Sixteen years ago, I felt a few pangs of withdrawal. I had been able to watch maybe half of the World Cup games on my little TV in my little living room in my little apartment. After that dreary final … nothing. No MLS. No regular European broadcasts. No women’s soccer.
Sunday, an hour after bidding farewell to the group of friends who came over to drink Dutch and (blech) Spanish beer while we gorged ourselves on food and watched a final that was a little less dreary, I went back into our HDTV room downstairs and flipped to Fox Soccer Channel. WPS — Washington Freedom vs. FC Gold Pride. And while the officiating was just as atrocious as the worst of what we saw from South Africa, I could rest assured that I was still watching soccer. As I’ve said elsewhere, U.S. soccer fans have been enabled. We can watch all weekend. And all week. Sorry, Tim Dahlberg, but we don’t need your permission.
And because we’re sports geeks who watch and comment on every competition shy of the foosball games downstairs (for the record, I was able to play an actual game against someone tall enough to see the table for once, and I won twice by a 10-2 count), we have much else to follow as well.
Women’s soccer: USA’s revenge over Ghana! The USA start play Tuesday in the U-20 Women’s World Cup, and it’ll be an upset to end all upsets if Ghana duplicates its 2006 and 2010 2-1 men’s victories. Dive all you want. Not going to happen.
Cycling: Lance Armstrong is now fourth in the Tour de France … on his own team. We can see if Team Radio Shack regroups to give Levi Leipheimer a push for the final podium, but more realistically, we’re looking at a Cadel Evans-Andy Schleck-Alberto Contador shootout.
Olympics (winter and summer): We’ve seen speedskaters take up cycling. Bobsledders recruit from football and track. So can skeleton veteran Katie Uhlaender make it back to the Olympics in weightlifting?
Volleyball: The U.S. men made a nice run at the World League final six, beating Russia in the first match of two in the final weekend. But the pool leaders came back for a 3-1 win in the finale, and the USA didn’t qualify as the “lucky loser” second-place team.
Basketball: Gold medal for USA U-17 men.
Track and field: Tyson Gay beat Asafa Powell in the highlight of the Diamond League’s stop in England.
Rowing: USA women’s eight still a powerhouse.
Poker: We’re down to 2,557 players in the World Series of Poker Main Event. Exiting gracefully on Day 2B were poker legend Doyle Brunson, baseball great Orel Hershiser, Seinfeld‘s Jason Alexander, Phil Ivey and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson.
Some of the names we’ll be watching on Day 3 (which is really Day 7, but they have four Day 1s and two Day 2s to accommodate the crowd):
- Bruce Buffer, UFC cage announcer
- Hank Azaria, Apu and many, many other Simpsons voices
- Johnny Chan, two-time Main Event winner
- Chris Moneymaker, 2003 surprise winner who helped start the poker boom
- Joe Cada, defending champion
- Daniel Negreanu, top poker pro and lively Twitter personality
- Allen Cunningham, like Negreanu a former WSOP Player of the Year
- Frank Kassela, sure to be this year’s Player of the Year
- Jennifer Harman, top poker pro
- Phil “Unabomber” Laak, one of the better nicknames among poker pros
- Vanessa Rousso, Duke grad like me but obviously much smarter
- Jack Ury, age 97
- Gabe Kaplan, Mr. Kotter
Sunday was a rest day at the WSOP, but they’ll be back on the Tour de France’s rest day Monday. Strange how that works.
Rugby: New Zealand sent what some in the U.S. media might call “a message,” dominating South Africa 32-12 in a Tri Nations matchup ahead of next year’s World Cup in New Zealand.