Bill Simmons Like Soccer

Bill Simmons, who writes the Page Two section on ESPN, is also known as the Sports Guy, but he’s becoming a soccer fan it looks like, and he writes marvelously about his trip to Mexico City and Azteca stadium to take in the United States versus Mexico match. And after seeing the United States versus Mexico there’s really no going back.

On the day of last week’s World Cup qualifier between the United States and Mexico, a Mexico City newspaper polled citizens asking if they felt the country’s national pride was at stake. Seventy-six percent said yes.

Think about that for a second. Americans are obsessed with sports. We currently sustain four major professional sports leagues, as well as NASCAR, the MLS, MILS, the WNBA, every conceivable NCAA sport, dozens of golf and tennis events, boxing and UFC cards, the WWE and even the Little League World Series. Can you remember a sporting event making us feel as if our national pride was at stake? Me neither.

Take all the sports we care about here, mix that passion together, condense it into one mega-sport, and you’d have soccer in Mexico. Had the U.S. crushed Mexico’s Cup chances in the legendary Estadio Azteca last week — that’s right, the U.S., the big bully to the north, a country that doesn’t care about soccer even 1/100th as much as Mexico does — it would have been a national tragedy.

Maybe it’s not amazing that 76 percent of the people felt as though their pride was at stake because the number wasn’t higher.

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