Monday, June 14, 2010

Bend Loves Soccer: And, OK, I'll admit it... so do I, kinda

Who thought a 1-1 tie could be so exciting.

Posted By on Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 11:59 PM

Because I'm a patriot, among other reasons, I stopped by the theater at McMenamins Old St. Francis School late Saturday morning to watch the USA vs. England World Cup match. I opened the door and couldn't see a damn thing in the darkened room, other than the massive screen displaying the 1-0 score (England was a head at the time) so I stood about six inches within the door, completely blind.

Then my eyes adjusted, revealing the place to be packed like a Justin Bieber concert on Bieber Day in the Republic of Bieber. You couldn't even walk to the bar unless you wanted to rub bellies with a line of dudes standing at the back of the room wearing an array of soccer jerseys and those scarf things that soccer fans tend to wear around their necks. They cheered at moments that seemed mostly mundane and drank merrily.

With claustrophobia setting in and nowhere to sit, stand or breath, I exited the theater, where sitting next to the door was a local TV reporter who gave me a "crazy in there, ain it?" sort of look. Yes, it was crazy. Crazier than the football (the tackling, concussion-enducing, helmeted kind) games the venue houses in the fall and winter. Crazier than some concerts than have been there. Crazier than a lot of things.

It was then that I realized then that Bend likes soccer. A lot. And this makes sense. Bend is the sort of place that would like soccer. We've got plenty of European imports in addition to the throngs of Northwesterners who grew up playing and ultimately loving a game that has never caught on in this country as it has in the rest of the world. We're forward thinking like that.

I hurried home and watched the rest of the game and actually leapt from my couch in excitement when the English keeper decided to let the ball go into the goal, apparently as a long-overdue apology for taxation without representation and/or ruining the Gulf of Mexico. I held my breath in the last minutes, hoping the US could hang on.

Then, against everything I've ever been taught by teachers, coaches and the cast of The Cosby Show, I cheered because of a tie. I was jazzed, not because we won, thus proving that we're better than England, but because we tied, indicating that we're precisely as good as England at soccer. I've spent a good ten years of my life (since a couple World Cup infatuations in '94 and '98) doing everything within my power and rights as an American to make fun of, if not completely detest, soccer.

And that, my friend is becoming a lot harder than I could ever imagine, which is why I'll admit that I've come to sort of, kind of like soccer... for the most part.

That is, except for the damn buzzing horns.

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