Mike McFeely Column: World Cup fever alive at Moorview
Every once in awhile, the world of sports offers a surprise or two. Take the case of a certain local sports writer, assigned Friday to roam the expanses of the Moorview Soccer Complex and see if he could detect a hint of World Cup fever among the...
Every once in awhile, the world of sports offers a surprise or two. Take the case of a certain local sports writer, assigned Friday to roam the expanses of the Moorview Soccer Complex and see if he could detect a hint of World Cup fever among the 1,500 youngsters running and kicking in this weekend's Moorhead Soccer Invitational.
You know the World Cup, the international futbol tournament that is perhaps the grandest and most anticipated event on the planet -- if you don't count the United States as part of the planet. A recent USA Today/CNN poll revealed 74 percent of Americans were either "not too interested" (21 percent) or "not interested at all" (53 percent) in the World Cup.
The same poll found 72 percent of Americans saying they would watch none of the World Cup on television.
That puts the World Cup right up there with bocce ball and lawn darts as a spectator sport among U.S. citizens.
So naturally, the sportswriter figured he would find a similar lukewarm attitude at Moorview.
In an entirely unscientific and wholly unreliable informal poll, the young athletes of the Moorhead Soccer Invitational have a certified case of World Cup fever.
Some of the older ones, like Bre Vinchattle of the Capital City (Bismarck, N.D.) Soccer Club's 16-under girls team, have risen (or stayed up) until 2 a.m. to watch some of the games live on television.
"It's cool," she said. "It's a huge event."
The younger ones, however, are relying on tape-delayed telecasts or on parents, who are giving their VCRs a workout taping middle-of-the-night matches.
Take 10-year-old Nick Geraghty and 8-year-old Jacob Geraghty, brothers on the Moorhead Jets 10-under team. Their dad was flipping through the channels the other night when he stumbled across a tape-delayed game on ESPN.
"They were like, 'Whoa, wait, let's watch that.' So they sat and watched it," Tom Geraghty said.
They've been watching all they can since.
"I just like watching all the shots they can take and the saves some of the goalies make," Jacob said. "They are awesome."
Tom Geraghty sees the World Cup as an opportunity for young soccer players to learn from the best.
"I use the games to help explain the game to them," he said. "Watch them. Look at what they are doing. Where else are they going to see that level of soccer?"
The elder Geraghty, and many others like him, are the second -- and maybe larger -- part of the World Cup surprise. He is 44 years old, and wasn't exposed to soccer growing up. The only time he saw a soccer ball, he said, was a couple of times a year in phy-ed class.
But now Geraghty's kids play soccer, and guess what?
He's a soccer dad.
"I'll sit and watch the games with them, but I don't get as big a kick out of it as they do," he said.
One person who does is Cal Kopp of Bismarck. The 47-year-old was a self-described baseball/football/basketball nut until his oldest son wanted to play soccer.
"I was like, 'Why? Here's the baseball gear, go use that.' But he wanted to play soccer and I'm glad he did," Kopp said. "It's really turned out to be a great thing for our family to be involved in."
And now the former baseball/football/basketball nut says he's more interested in the outcome of the World Cup than the Super Bowl or the NBA Finals.
Kopp's daughter, Katie, is a member of Bismarck's 16-under girls team. She is watching as much World Cup action as she can, and is particularly interested in the United States' matches.
She was asked by the surprised local sports writer what was so alluring about the World Cup that she felt she had to watch.
"It's all about the love of the game," she said.
There's a lot of that going around the Moorview Soccer Complex this weekend, even if the national polls suggest otherwise.
Readers can reach Mike McFeely at (701) 241-5580 or email@example.com