The World Cup is always exciting. But rarely is it exciting because of Belgium or the United States. And Belgian-U.S. relations rarely dominate the fervor of the American spirit; even less often does it dominate the sports pages.
Americans know about U.S. football, baseball and basketball… and, if they grew up in some regions, perhaps hockey as well. But soccer is what kids play on Saturday; it is not what dads and mom watch on Sunday.
Americans know about France – it has Paris and croissants – and England (though most will rarely know how that relates to the U.K) But Belgium? Yes, we know it is an area with fabulous waffles, beer and chocolate. But to most, the country consists largely of tasty food and brews floating somewhere in Europe.
Tony Kornheiser is a smart man. He is perhaps the most glib, silver tongued sports and current events commentator of our time. But he oozes with honesty. And so he freely admitted to his radio audience that he knows little about soccer and less about Belgium. A great opening for a former U.S. Ambassador to Belgium who both visited the Belgian National team and attended both friendlies between the United States and Belgium.
I have long admired Tony. It was a blast to do his show:
Belgium made a strong push in tournament, making it all the way to the quarter-finals where they battled the talented Lionel Messi and Argentina. The game was close in score, but less close on the pitch. Iit was in fact separated by four years of confidence. Argentina played defense and the Belgians remained tentative. Perhaps the most talented team in the universe learned that it also needed to have the confidence that goes along with that skill.
I was disappointed. I have long believed in Belgium, sometimes when natives have believed less in themselves. With Belgium having players like Hazard, de Bruyne, Lukaku who can score any time on any one and a keeper like Cortois who can stop anyone at any time, the American in me wanted a win.
But no matter. To many viewers and to many Belgians, Belgium making it that far in the tournament was its own reward. Belgians knows that they put a place holder on the map. People will begin to know the difference between the Netherlands and Belgium. They will begin to associate the country with people and talent, not food and beer. Belgians know that four years will pass quickly… they will be back.
via Howard Gutman http://ift.tt/1nXU2MJ
from WordPress http://ift.tt/X9tQFb