Soccer is king at East Hampton High School — the team, in the absence of a varsity football squad, will be featured at homecoming this fall as the result of a student vote — and it has been king here at the adult level for years, beginning with emigrants from Costa Rica in the mid-1960s, after which came Mexicans, Colombians, and Ecuadorians, mostly from Cuenca (not to mention the Irish).
Yet some still refuse to credit the verdict of their own eyes. The crowd gathered around the television in the courtyard at Rowdy Hall last week for the United States-Belgium game was the largest I can remember there since the hot dog eating contest.
“All the parents now want their kids to move,” a father of two athletic daughters told me the other day. “They don’t want them staring at their iPhones and iPads all day. They want them playing sports like soccer, lacrosse, or track. I’m afraid it may be the end for softball and baseball.”
Not to mention football, which I’ve been told ranks behind bike riding, soccer, and ice hockey when it comes to concussions.
(Then of course, when listing sports on the rise here, there’s swimming, which boasts a robust youth movement that I would imagine is on a par with soccer and lacrosse.)
Back to the World Cup, I admit I was puzzled — I’d had the volume off — when all the American fans were cheering and applauding after the U.S. lost 1-0 to Germany, but later I was clued in. Yes, we lost, but because it had been such a narrow loss we had won!
How would that — winning by losing — sit with the red meat American psyche, I wondered. Much too subtle, like those power-sharing elections abroad.
Well, of course, we did really lose to Belgium, though, presumably everyone thought of Tim Howard, our goalie, as a winner.
As for the common American complaint that not enough goals are scored in soccer — which I think makes the game all the more riveting — count each one as 7 points, or 14!
In any event, to state the obvious, soccer is here to stay — not only in East Hampton, but in this country.