Who in America knew that in Finland, the term "football" - soccer to you - is spelled jalkapallo? That's what's so cool about "New Yorker" writer Hendrik Hertzberg - a sharp stylist whose research always goes the extra mile.
(For instance, according to Hertzberg in his latest magazine column, the term "soccer" is a British import (now lost in its homeland), that derived from the slang for rugby - ruggers - and the short form of Assoc. (which governed the new game.) Hence, soccer. Hertzberg pointed out that Americans no doubt neglected to register this information, being engaged as they were in 1863.
Anyway, the author has fun talking about conservatives' derision for soccer, despite the fact that more Americans watched the American soccer teams' defeat at the hands of Ghana than the average number of viewers of last year's World Series, the Kentucky Derby, the final round of the Masters golf tourney, or the Daytona 500.
(Conservatives tend to call soccer a "socialist" sport. Glen Beck, of Fox News infamy, said: "I hate it so much, probably because the rest off the world loves it so much.")
What attracts me to all this is not so much soccer - beyond trying to make a rather boring topic interesting while honoring a cool writer - but that America has changed so much since I grew up all too long ago. Back then, in the 1950s and 1960s, soccer was an oddity. Somewhere mixed in with fencing, lacrosse, and sumo wrestling. Now kid-people, and even not-so-kid-like people, all over the country are soccer nuts. They know field-wide plays I can only imagine, hoping for that final successful header.
I see our kids' love of soccer as a welcome sign of broadening perspectives. Call me a guy taking a seventh-inning stretch. Just don't call me a conservative. I've somehow never learned how to hate a sport just because others love it.