Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all philisophical, but just like almost everything else in my life, I’ve learned a lot about sports in these last three weeks of working in Tooele County.
1. Soccer in the United States has survived the conversation of “will soccer ever make it big in the United States?” Maybe it’s just because I actually like soccer, or maybe it’s because I’m in Utah — a hotbed for the sport — but soccer has finally made it. Take a look at the crowds at a Real Salt Lake game and you will see supporters who not only love their team and the sport of soccer, but would be called a respectable fan base in the rest of the world. Take my old roommate Colby for example. He was the biggest redneck American who hated soccer when I first met him. When he came back from his mission to Peru, he had a South American accent and wardrobe filled with soccer jerseys — and not just Peruvian teams, he had shirts from teams all over the world. Last week he took his little sister to Real Salt Lake game, and I’m pretty sure it was a first for both of them. Colby’s post-mission experience may be limited to those living within the Mormon footprint, but experiencing soccer like he did will convert almost any other of the sport’s critics.
2. Jurgen Klinsmann knows he’s not going to get out of group play this Worl Cup. I’ve never seen a “group of death” so frightening as I have this year. Having Portugal or Germany in the group would be hard enough, but the U.S. has to go through both of them as well as Ghana — the team that beat them four years ago — just to get out of group play and move on. Yes the Americans beat Azerbaijan 2-0 the other day, but that’s creampuff compared to what they’re going to face in Brazil. It’s like saying the Grantsville basketball team is preparing for the 5A state tournament by playing the Grantsville Junior High team. Not going to happen.
3. Speaking of Klinsmann and the national team, I learned it’s OK Landon Donovan was left of the squad. Would the American team be better with the all-time MLS leading scorer? Undoubtedly. But there is no way the Americans are going to get out of group play with or without him, so there’s really no need for the old man to strain himself. When Klinsmann left him off the squad, he was already conceding an early knockout. With so many young players, he’s building for the 2018 World Cup — you know, when the Americans might actually have a chance. While you can compare the Americans this year to the Looney Tunes basketball team in Space Jam, Landon Donovan is not Michael Jordan and cannot defeat the Monstars.
4. The unified soccer championship may not carry any clout from the varsity sports perspective, but as Gumby said in his column a week or two ago, the Grantsville championship meant a lot to certain individuals. In addition to Gumby’s thoughts, I believe that state championship means Tooele County may become a hotbed for soccer as well, if it hasn’t already.
5. Speaking of lesser known sports, I’m a little bit surprised at how little hockey is spoken about here. At Utah State, students and members of the community alike love to watch Aggie hockey games. It’s not a varsity sport there, but the club team has been to nationals on a fairly consistent basis in the past 3-5 years. I realize I haven’t spoken to or met very many people in Tooele County, but it seems the general consensus so far can pretty much be summed up in one word: apathy. Does anyone even know about last night’s overtime win for the Chicago Blackhawks? Please let me know if you do — I feel like I’m the only one here who cares about hockey.
Shameless plug: Speaking about what people in Tooele County do like, I need some ideas for my newcomer’s guide to Tooele County review. I don’t know about many recreational opportunities here yet besides golf courses, which I plan to test thoroughly this summer. Any ideas on outdoor activities that a newcomer might be interested in will be greatly appreciated. Hit me up on Twitter: @StuTranscript with your ideas. That’s the same Twitter account I’m going to be live-tweeting football games from come this fall, but yeah, if anyone knows about good rock climbing, hiking, volleyball or any other summer or outdoor adventures, let me know.