Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympic Soccer

I've long been saying that soccer will never become a major sport in this country and the reaction to the losses in the Olympics by the U-S men and women's teams are further proof. Hardly a whimper when the Women lost their opener to Norway last week. Today the Men failed to make it out of pool play when they lost to Nigeria 2-1. If the U-S basketball teams failed to make it past pool play there would be lots of angst! The reaction today was Oh...tough luck. Soccer is a niche sport and will remain so!

Lost among the much deserving Michael Phelps love fest has been the play of the U-S Men's Volleyball team. Yeah I'm biased because my son plays H-S volleyball...but the U-S beat one nemesis Italy the other day and faces another tough match against Bulgaria. A win over the 4th ranked team in the world--the US is actually 3rd--and the men will make it into the Quarterfinals. A huge accomplishment since they lost all their matches in 2004 in Athens. All this is playing out surrounded by the tragedy of Coach Hugh McCutheon's father in laws murder last week in Beijing. The U-S team is lead by 36 year old Lloy Ball. The 6'8" setter has carried the team on his shoulders with terrific play the last couple of months. The U-S won a big international competition last month beating the top ranked Brazilians in the Semifinals of the tournament. Ball is an interesting character who turned down a chance to play basketball for Bobby Knight at Indiana in the early 80's to go to I-P-F-W where his father is the volleyball coach. Most guys would have taken the chance at glory over playing for Dad but then again I really can't see the free spirited Ball playing for Knight. In the long run I suspect he has had more glory as a volleyball player than he would have seen in hoops. Word is he earns about $800 thousand a year as the setter for one of the top Russian League teams. Catch a match you might be surprised how enjoyable and exciting it can be.

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