U.S. finally notices soccer on TV; Falcons flying under the radar


I have been watching the World Cup intently since 1990. Soccer was a bad word in this country at that point, unless you were talking about the suburban rec leagues that were full of grade school kids. But no one really liked watching soccer on television in the U.S. It was boring, it was low scoring, it was a “communist sport”. I didn’t understand the game at first ex- cept that when the checkered ball found the back of the net, it was a goal. The best part about the World Cup for me – and the one or two friends I knew that watched the spectacle – was the uniforms.

Why did Italy wear blue jerseys if the national colors were red, white and green? Why were Germany’s road digs Kelly green, almost like Ireland? Is there a reason why Holland wore so much orange? It was all a great big mystery to me, which attracted me even more. Adding to that spark was the passion the rest of the world showed for the game.

Despite living in the Siberia of the soccer world, I could tell the sport meant everything to people in other parts of our planet. Also, who can’t appreciate the World War II implications when nations like Holland and France played Germany? Or the palpable tension when the Soviet Union played one of the Eastern Bloc nations?

For years, the World Cup remained nothing more than a nice little diversion for myself and a few other Americans every four years. So it has been a bit of a shock when, suddenly, every bar in the country is jam-packed not only for the USMNT matches, but also for affairs like Argentina vs. Belgium and Colombia vs. Brazil.

Twenty years ago, no one even knew if the U.S. fielded a soccer squad. Now, the Americans play on television in front of more than 20 million of their own countrymen. It is good to see that mainstream America is no longer scared of liking soccer. There was never any reason to be afraid of the game our English cousins developed and spread throughout the rest of the world. While we won’t win it all for quite some time, it will be interesting to see how much this nation supports the US-MNT, which is a year-round process. If you follow the team through the friendlies, qualifiers and “other” tournaments throughout the years, you know that a lot goes into becoming a com-petitive soccer nation prior to the World Cup.


I’ll admit it, the Falcons were a little weak last year. They needed to get back to the basics of football – blocking, tackling and controlling the trenches. It looks like they’ve done it. The acquisitions of Tyson Jackson, Paul Soliai, Jon Asamoah and Gabe Carimi beef up the Falcons’ lines of scrimmage. They drafted linemen with their first two picks (one on offense, one on defense) and also selected a whopping four linebackers. Bruising running back Steven Jackson will benefit the most from this transformation and should improve astronomically over his team-leading 543 rushing yards last year.

The NFL’s best wide receiver duo returns healthy and Matt Ryan will be protected behind a re-vamped offensive line. While the national media fawns over the Saints and Panthers, the league’s biggest surprise plays its games right here next to CNN.


One of the good guys in all of college basketball is Georgia’s Mark Fox. He is roundly re-spected in the game by his peers and has never aroused suspicion from the NCAA for wrong-doing. His gameplans are routinely sound and his teams always play hard. The one problem Fox has is talent. He never seems to get it in Athens, at least on a regular basis.

Turtle Jackson plays at Athens Christian, right under Fox’s nose. When he committed to UConn in February it looked like another one got away, which drove Georgia fans crazy. However, Jackson flipped to Georgia Monday in a huge get for Fox. What remains to be seen is if the Bulldogs’ staff can capitalize on this bit of good fortune.

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