The World Cup is held every four years. The only reason I believe it is held only every four years is that nothing would get done while the games are being played if it came around more often. Also, I don’t think we could stand an annual dose of those blasted noise makers, the vuvuzelas, as they would drive the sane populous stark raving mad.
My kids all played soccer from the time they were old enough to strap on shin guards. In the beginning, the audience was the wine-sipping, landed gentry. Nowadays, the audience at most American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) games has morphed into more of the middle class.
In 2002, we went to Tanzania to visit our older daughter as she was in the midst of her three-year stint in the Peace Corps there. We landed in Dar es Salaam, the capital where Islamic jihadists recently had blown up our embassy. The World Cup was in full swing and the enthusiasm for the game was on high alert. We went on a safari to a preserve 300 miles inland at a place called Ru HaHa. En route, we would pass small native villages and we would see a cluster of men and boys circled around what we thought was a fight or something. But no, they were watching the World Cup on what must have been the only television in the village. The power for the television must have been provided by a generator somewhere as they had no power lines that we could see.
It was really funny to watch them watching the World Cup on television. They were so engrossed in the game that I don’t think a herd of charging elephants would have distracted them from taking in every play. Here, they were in the middle of nowhere watching television and World Cup soccer to boot. It was really neat to see their enthusiasm for the game.
Our older daughter caused a small revolution when she first arrived in Tanzania. She taught chemistry at an all-boys school and it had a soccer team. They invited her to watch a game, after which she asked them if she could play. They were shocked. They never had any females play soccer. My daughter conveniently had brought her shin guards and soccer shoes with her to Tanzania in hopes she could play some soccer while there. They let her play soccer with them and she knocked their socks off with her level of play. The powers that be were thinking seriously of starting female soccer teams as a result of my daughter’s play and enthusiasm for the game.
Locally, when my older daughter attended Reed High School, we did major battle with the athletic director for the Washoe County School District for the implementation of a girl’s varsity soccer program in the high schools. The district had one more boy’s varsity sport than it had girl’s varsity sports and the inequity violated Title IX rules that make it illegal on an equal rights basis to have that kind of imbalance.
I had the athletic director yelling at me on the phone over the matter and I calmly told him either to implement girl’s varsity soccer at the high schools or we would see them in court about the matter. Washoe County School District now has girl’s varsity soccer and has since the mid-1990s. Gooaall!!!
Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.