I’ve been reporting sports in the Twin Cities since the fall of 1968. There have been several revolutions in American sports, including:
Pro football overwhelming baseball to become the national game, and stock car racing becoming the king among motor sports, and boxing gorging itself on initials to the point it’s less popular than the grotesque exercise called MMA.
None of these compares with what took place after Title IX was written into the education amendments of 1972 — a few words that brought equal opportunity for girls and women to participate in sports.
I’ve said this, and many people choose to disbelieve based on a few paragraphs critiquing the state of women’s basketball in a long-ago notes column, but it is fact:
The greatest occurrence in my career was the chance for half of our population to compete fully in team sports.
And I’m now starting to feel that No. 2 on the list of sports revolutions is the arrival of soccer as a spectator sport of significance in this country.
OK, I get the old argument: “Zealots have been wrongly selling the idea of a ‘soccer boom’ to this country since the 1970s, when crowds of debauched youth descended on NASL stadiums and parking lots to party.”
I’ve promoted that idea on occasion to dismiss a game that doesn’t do it for me — never has, never will.
Which is OK, because soccer in 2014 sure as Hades doesn’t need me, with men and women who played the game now ensconced with their families in Maple Grove or Woodbury, and with our new immigrants bringing their soccer passion to our neighborhoods.
The TV ratings for soccer will dazzle only in the World Cup for the foreseeable future, since only then do we see the “home team” against the best.
Football, baseball, basketball and hockey offer us the best leagues in the world. In 2013, Major League Soccer was ranked No. 7 internationally.
No matter. We have a soccer crowd of significance. And while I’m sure drinking on asphalt remains an attraction, it’s not the only reason these folks are involved. They also like watching soccer.
Plus Three from Patrick
Three-year run in the Timberwolves draft room:
2009: Select Ricky Rubio (No. 5 overall) and Jonny Flynn (6). Miss: Steph Curry (7). Gave away: Ty Lawson (18).
2010: Select Wes Johnson (4). Miss: DeMarcus Cousins (5). If only: Paul George (10).
2011: Select Derrick Williams (2). If only: Klay Thompson (11) or Kawhi Leonard (15). Gave away: Chandler Parsons (38).