John Steigerwald's Sports Column
Winning one game in four is not an accomplishment
I’m still proud to be an American.
Our soccer team losing to a team from a country that is 1/22 the size of Texas is no reason for any American to hang their head.
We fought the good fight.
The Americans played four games and won one.
They tell me that, in soccer, that’s pretty good.
The soccernistas in the media would have you believe that the awe-inspiring 1-2-1 performance by our guys has already established soccer as America’s next big sport.
They don’t like to point out that “our guys” aren’t really ours the way, say, the U.S. hockey team at the Winter Olympics was our guys.
The coach is from Germany.
Five key players were born and raised in Germany.
The German coach cut Landon Donovan, who – I’m told – is the best American player ever. Several other players are American only for the purpose of playing in the World Cup.
And that was no accident, apparently.
The German coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, started with a plan to make the American team as un-American as possible.
Here’s what Sam Borden of the New York Times Magazine wrote back in June: “Klinsmann believes that, if the United States is ever going to really succeed at a World Cup, a specific and significant change must occur within the team. That change does not necessarily have to do with how the Americans play; rather, it has to do with the American players being too American.”
How would that little piece of news had gone over with the huge crowds of American flag-waving people gathered in front of outdoor screens around the country?
We’ll know that soccer has really arrived as an American sport when there are enough kids who were born and raised in America to fill out a competitive national team’s roster.
Does it qualify as ironic that crowds, who were gathered more out of a sense of patriotism and the opportunity for a party than because of any real interest in the sport, were cheering for a team that didn’t want to be “too American?”
• Meanwhile, what could be more American than college football?
Big changes could be coming to a college football program near you. The Ed O’Bannon class-action, anti-trust lawsuit wrapped up last week and it’s in the hands of U.S. District judge Claudia Wilkening. A decision, which will probably be appealed, will be coming down in a few weeks.
The suit would like to bar the NCAA from preventing college football players from profiting from the use of their names, images and likenesses.
The NCAA’s defense was the same tired, old, phony story about maintaining amateur purity.
When the suit began, a sports attorney and former owner of a major professional sports franchise told me he expected “a crater where the NCAA is now.”
He said it would be the end of the NCAA as we know it.
I asked him, on the condition of keeping him anonymous, how he felt now that the case has been heard.
“I haven’t followed the testimony closely enough to predict the outcome, but ultimately it doesn’t matter,” he said. “(NCAA President) Emmert and his cohorts are like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in the final scene where they fought off their pursuers, not realizing there were scores more awaiting them.
“The NCAA as we know it is dead. It’s just a matter of who and what, individually or collectively, delivers the kill shot. The big conferences will have complete authority, and the NCAA will be figuring out how to fund the hundreds of millions of dollars of judgments against it that await.”
As much as I would like to see the NCAA disappear, because of one of the plaintiff’s main arguments, this will only make it easier for the NFL and NBA monopolies to use colleges as a free minor league system and will increase the number of unqualified “student” athletes.
The plaintiffs claim because the top-level NCAA schools are the only places where these athletes can sell their services, they suffer economic harm.
They should be able to sell their services where baseball and hockey players sell theirs - to professional teams who can develop them in the minor leagues.
• The headline on the Washington Post read: “Bryce Harper is still just 21 years old, but he needs to stop acting like he is 12.”
Harper, who plays for the Nationals, is having some trouble dealing with what comes with being his sport’s next super-duper star at a young age.
He complained about his spot in the batting order and publicly second-guessed his manager.
Makes you appreciate Sidney Crosby.
• The Penguins are grittier and tougher than they were last week. Check back in May to see if it matters.
John Steigerwald writes a Sunday column for the Observer-Reporter.