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Give it time, soccer fans, and your sport will rule America

by Mike McFeely

You have to give Ann Coulter credit. Or maybe you don't, since she's basically repulsive. But the conservative pundit had soccer fans atwitter last week when she wrote a syndicated column that poured a five-gallon can of gasoline on their favorite sport and torched it beyond all recognition. Soccer aficionados were left to sniff about Coulter being nothing more than a "troll" (the word younger generations use to dismiss opinions they don't like, therefore excusing them from making a cogent argument to buttress their own opinions).

Coulter's column opened with her saying "any growing interest in soccer can only be a sign of the nation's moral decay" and only got more offensive/entertaining from there. Coulter shockingly blamed liberalism and the media for trying to foist soccer on the American public, the same way conservatives blame liberalism and the media for everything they deem wrong with the world including the economy, unrest in the Middle East and George Will's bad toupee.

As a long-time skeptic of the "soccer is really catching on" mantra repeated ad nauseum since the 1970s, I appreciated some of Coulter's jabs. Such as: "Remember when the media tried to foist British soccer star David Beckham and his permanently camera-ready wife on us a few years ago? Their arrival in America was heralded with 24-7 news coverage. That lasted about two days. Ratings tanked. No one cared."

Boom. Coulter could not have been more correct.

It was Coulter's next, and final, paragraph that was both deeply offensive and wrong. It's also where she completely missed the point of the future of soccer in this country.

Coulter wrote: "If more 'Americans' are watching soccer today, it's only because of the demographic switch effected by Teddy Kennedy's 1965 immigration law. I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer. One can only hope that, in addition to learning English, these new Americans will drop their soccer fetish with time."

Referring to immigrants as "Americans," in quotation marks, should anger anybody whose parents, grandparents or great-grandparents came to this nation to put down roots and make their lives better. Coulter is playing to her right-wing audience's xenophobia and thinly-veiled racist suspicion of anybody with skin color different than hers. It's inexcusable.

It also misses the obvious. America is, as always, becoming more diverse. Growth trends in the U.S. have for years shown the Hispanic population booming through immigration and birth rates. And a study released last week said immigration by Asians outstripped that of Hispanics for the second straight year. We continue to welcome immigrants from South America, Africa, Europe and every other spot on the globe. America, thankfully, continues to be the melting pot of the world.

And the melting pot, for the most part, prefers soccer. New Americans

were not weaned on the monstrous NFL or baseball. They love futbol.

Combine that with the millions of youngsters playing soccer (and growing concern over head injuries in American football) and, eventually, the numbers of soccer fanatics will multiply and overwhelm every other sport being played in this country.

America's sporting interests have changed over the years. Boxing was once this nation's first love. Then it was baseball. Now it's football. It'll happen again. It's a mathematical inevitability. It won't happen because of this year's World Cup, or the World Cup four years from now. It may take 40 years. But soccer will rule.

Be patient, you grieviously insulted soccer fans. At some point, you'll be able to visit Ann Coulter's grave and do whatever grieviously insulted soccer fans do to show their displeasure.

(Mike McFeely is a talk-show host on 790 KFGO-AM in Fargo-Moorhead. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcFeelyKFGO.)