What Game Are They Watching?
Sports radio is not ready for soccer, even World Cup soccer. Even Jim Rome, that rare host with an IQ above room temperature, disses the first true global sport. Why?
It can't be just the relative lack of familiarity with it. I grew up in college basketball country, back before the game became a national obsession every March, when ACC hoops was its own little world. Pro football, college football, and baseball also mattered. When I got to college, my roomie Chris Lanser was a big Islanders fan during their great Stanley Cup run. I knew nothing about hockey, but I watched it with him. Guess what I found out? I'm a sports fan. Put me in front of a well-played match in whatever sport, preferably with a cold beverage in my hand, and I'm happy. The play's the thing.
The World Cup matches, including this mornings USA-Germany game, have been exciting for all the reasons sports are exciting: athleticism, drama, loyalty to a side. Boring? Only if you think a pitcher's duel is boring. The level of skill and intensity is top-notch. The rules are no more arbitrary or dumb than the rules of any other sport.
Yet the commercial voice of the American sports fan still can't get behind the game. Maybe it's the influence of the existing leagues they cover, which fear competition. And there is one other great thing about soccer: no ads to interupt play. Is that a reason the American media still shrug, because they worry that the advertising dollars that drive US sports won't follow soccer? They would have to be mighty limited in imagination to think that, but then, listen to the average call-in show.
One of the last matriarchs of a vanishing subculture died today. Leah Louise Baach Tannenbaum, 87, was a civic leader in Greensboro for more than six decades. She fought for civil rights when that struggle was at issue, and she funded and pushed and celebrated the arts and education. She had a long, happy life and nurtured a successful family. And she was a hell of a lot of fun.
Leah was a doyenne of the society created by Jews who emigrated to the South from Germany. This migration occured earlier than the much larger wave that followed from eastern Europe, and many of its members became prominent in the business and cultural life of the Southern states in the latter part of the 19th century and for much of the 20th. It would not be much of an overstatement to say that the modern city of Greensboro was built by the descendants of German Jews, including Leah's ancestors, the Sternbergers--but they left no finer legacy than Leah.