Most Americans don't care whether other countries have better soccer teams than we do. After all, soccer games are often slow-moving, and a bad call from an official can ruin everyone's fun.
We've already got a sport like that here.
However, the World Cup is starting this weekend, and a small percentage of the U.S. population (somewhere in the vicinity of 1.3 percent) would like that to change.
But first, soccer must compete with the big three sports. In some places, Major League Soccer enjoys a popularity similar to that of hockey or NASCAR; in other places, people are more likely to be able to name five professional lacrosse stars than pick David Beckham out of a lineup.
The popularity of soccer ultimately comes down to how it's being talked about—and this is the first World Cup during which Facebook and Twitter will be factors.
Pretty much everyone has seen Zinedine Zidane's famous head-butt during the 2006 final, and popular videos of goals or samba-like footwork number in the thousands on YouTube. In a high-profile World Cup ad, Nike featured the world's biggest soccer stars—people far less recognizable to Americans than Kobe Bryant and Homer Simpson, who also popped up in the ad.
However, ads and social networking can only do so much to boost soccer's popularity here. Ultimately, that's up to the U.S. team, which is ranked 14th in the world, and whose players enjoy better name recognition in other countries than they do here.
THE WEEK ON THE RANGE
We started rolling out our coverage of the 2010 elections with summaries of various races; let you know that the National Rifle Association endorsed Sen. John McCain; shared a new campaign ad from Republican J.D. Hayworth bashing McCain; and let you know that Democrat Rodney Glassman, who also has his eye on McCain's seat, had named his campaign bus "RVive Arizona."
On the fallout-from-SB 1070 front, we let you know that Los Lobos was cancelling its Arizona appearances. In somewhat related news, we told you that Prescott officials wanted artists to "lighten the faces" of non-white that were painted in a mural on the side of a school.
We also let you know that the Tucson City Council was considering the annexation of the westside Painted Hills area.
We featured David Kish's photos from the Pima Air and Space Museum, and a variety of other snapshots by UA journalism students Taylor Medeiros, Chen Ziniu and Caroline Bruner and Robert Alcaraz.
On the travel beat, we told you that Life magazine has named Flagstaff one of the "most underrated cities" in the Western United States. Meanwhile, Eric Firestone, who closed his dynamic downtown gallery, has taken his Warhol: From Dylan to Duchamp collection to his new gallery in East Hampton, N.Y., where it is making quite the splash. We also reminded you that you still have time to catch the spectacular Warhol show at the Tucson Museum of Art.
On the Chow beat, we let you know that Don's Bayou Cajun Cookin' and Kingfisher are out of oysters from the Gulf of Mexico; linked up with Janos Wilder's blog; and shared the news that Nimbus is opening up a new pub at River Road and Stone Avenue.
COMMENTS OF THE WEEK
"Just another example of ignorant people who jump on the media bandwagon and overreact to a misrepresentation of the law. Does anyone not understand why they call it ILLEGAL immigration to begin with? Name any other country that just lets you waltz in without proof of legal identification and doesn't throw you in jail or worse ... please."
—Stacy Philippou, on our Facebook posting about Los Lobos joining a growing list of bands that won't play in Arizona because of SB 1070.
"So anyone who disagrees with the law is 'ignorant'? Not very convincing. If you think they're wrong, give a reason why, not just ad hominem."
—Gordon Zaft, in response to Philippou.
BEST OF WWW
It's wedding week at the Weekly! Look at this column online or go to our multimedia page for a video to go along with our special Wedding Section. We've also got a preview of the War Brides show now playing at the Pima Air and Space Museum (see Margaret Regan's review on Page 27), which features the pictures and stories of the women who came home with U.S. soldiers after World War II.