Eastern Wake: Opinion

Column: Enjoying the sporting experience with girls

Johnny Whitfield, columnist The Eastern Wake News and the Garner-Cleveland Record.
Johnny Whitfield, columnist The Eastern Wake News and the Garner-Cleveland Record. tiwabu@newsobserver.com

The good Lord, in His mysterious way, somehow decided I would become the father of two daughters, with nary a son in sight.

With that decision, I missed out on going to Friday night football games at the high school and cheering for my boy. But, honestly, that’s been just fine. My daughters have both been active children and there were T-ball and softball games to attend, soccer matches to watch, band competitions to see. All those things, yes, even the Tball games, satisfied my competitive appetite and I have never wanted for any more than I got.

My oldest child played soccer in high school, where I was not allowed (by her) to cheer for the team out loud. That was a hard rule to follow and I failed on many occasions, but I was careful not to get so carried away that she wouldn’t speak to me for the following three days.

But that soccer experience has given me an appreciation for a sport that existed only as a middle school intramural experience when I was growing up.

That means these days are exciting. On Tuesday night, the U.S. Women’s national soccer team won its Women’s World Cup pool play round with a 1-0 win over Nigeria. I stretched out on the sofa to watch the game with Anna Kate and promptly fell asleep. Something woke me up just in time to see the U.S. star Abby Wambach score the only goal of the game. I decided, if I didn’t want to miss the entire match, I had probably better sit up, so I moved across the room and sat in the easy chair. That did the trick and we spent the next hour or so watching the rest of the game.

The Women’s World Cup seems like it’s a universe away from all the scandal which has surrounded FIFA, the NFL of soccer. But the truth is, FIFA is the sanctioning body of both the Men’s and Women’s World. That organization is in turmoil after U.S. and Swiss officials filed criminal charges against the leaders of FIFA with all manner of shenanigans related to the site selection of World Cup venues and the like.

Somehow, though, when the players take the field, all that goes away and everyone wraps themselves in their country’s flag and cheers their home team on.

Scores, unlike in college basketball, the NBA and the NFL, are hard to come by. The Americans scored only one goal Tuesday, meaning just one well-placed kick from Nigeria could have drastically changed the outcome of the match. That makes every shot even more important and you can’t help by scoot to the edge of your seat as the action on the field picks up.

The U.S. win Tuesday means they will move on to the so-called knock-out round with a game Monday night against a team that has yet to be determined. One loss and your team is out of the tournament.

Regardless of how it turns out, I’ll be excited once again to have a sporting event to enjoy before football and the baseball playoffs begin in the fall. And that makes life good.