Subdued on soccer

The University of Louisville is on the verge of winning a national championship in the world’s most popular sport: football.

Only we don’t call it that in America. We call it soccer.

Louisville beat North Carolina on the goal above by freshman Aaron Horton with less than a minute left in the match to get into the final game of the NCAA Division I College Cup tournament in Santa Barbara, Calif.

It’s just one of those things. The more than six billion people on the planet see a sport where the 22  players on the field use their feet 95% of the time and call it football. Americans see a sport where one player of the 22 on the field uses his foot in maybe 1% of the game time call it soccer.

On Sunday, the No. 1-ranked Cardinals will face the No. 3 seeded Akron in the championship match of what’s officially called “association football.” According to Wikipedia: the word “soccer” originated as an “Oxford ‘-er'” slang abbreviation of “association”, and was popularized in the late nineteenth century by a prominent English footballer, Charles Wreford-Brown. This origin is evident in the sometimes-heard variation, “soccer football”.

Here’s how the folks in Louisville are treating the accomplishment. The Courier-Journal, the local paper, has it listed as the sixth story on its Sports internet page at 1 p.m. today. It was just dropped from the paper’s home page.

What’s worse, that the university’s Web page for the soccer team doesn’t even list last night’s result. When the school doesn’t even update the internet page, that’s a sign it isn’t the biggest even on campus. Everyone’s paying more attention to today’s basketball game against UNLV.

But soccer doesn’t get much attention in America in general. It’s estimated that 6,000 people attended last night’s semifinal matches. Compare that to the Michigan-Michigan State hockey game today that’s expecting a turnout of 110,000 people, 30,000 more than have attended one hockey game.

Don’t expect that kind of turnout in Santa Barbara for the world’s most popular sport.

NOTE: Here’s another thing that went unnoticed. Northern Kentucky won the Division II NCAA men’s soccer championship last Saturday in Louisville. So the state of Kentucky is the national leader in soccer. Would never have guessed that.

UPDATE: Akron won the final 1-o with a late goal.


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