A GRIP ON SPORTS
Ever since the New York Cosmos signed Pele, the Michael Jordan of soccer, to a contract, the sport has experienced many a most-important-day-ever in this country. Read on.
• Americans like things to be nice and tidy. At least the American media does. That's why, as soccer has grown in this country, there has been a great search for a turning point. The day soccer will become mainstream in the nation. Well, why most image makers were out searching for an ah-ha moment, soccer has integrated itself into American culture from the bottom up. Want proof? The TV numbers bear it out. According to Nielsen, 15.9 million people watched the U.S. and Ghana play last week. That number includes the little more than 11 million who tuned in via ESPN and the almost 5 million who watched on Univision, the Spanish-language station. This wasn't the most-watched soccer match of all time in this country – the U.S. vs. England in 2010 was – but it was the most watched one that was on cable and during the work week. Think about this. The same week, the NHL determined its champion and drew six million viewers for its deciding game. And the NBA had 17.9 million for the fifth game of its finals. In other words, U.S. soccer can now draw more viewers for its most important games than hockey can and nearly as many as pro basketball. Which brings us to today. It's probable, being that it is a Sunday, the match with Portugal could draw even more eyeballs than the Ghana match did. Many of them, like last week, might be drawn just for the chance to root for their country. They may not understand the sport but they do understand excitement. If today's game brings some, whether in the form of a taut battle or a stirring comeback, then soccer has again made some converts. A boring, build-from-the-back defensive battle may cause just the opposite. But either way, there is no more most-important-days-ever for United States soccer. The sport has arrived. It's part of our culture like hockey and auto racing and golf. It's not among the big three but it's close. And that's fine.
• WSU: Not a lot of news out of Pullman these days but the Cougars did have another football player decide to attend this fall. And he's expected to be pretty good.
• Gonzaga: Just thought I would pass along this Lexi Bando story in the what-might-have-been vein.
• EWU: The Big Sky Conference decided to make a bunch of lists of its bests at the 50-year mark. And, of course, Eastern has more than its share of athletes and moments though it has been in the conference just since 1995. Jim Allen shares them all in this story.
• Seahawks: It's not often the defending Super Bowl champion has a great season. Heck, only once since 2004, only one defending champion has even won a playoff game. So, what will happen to the Hawks this season? Larry Stone has some thoughts on the matter. … The offseason work is over. What were the most important aspects of it? … There could be a heated battle for the right tackle spot. … Jesse Williams hopes his knees will hold up and help him contribute to the Hawks' success.
• Mariners: The M's showed a little KC mojo for the second consecutive night, scoring a run in the top of the ninth to take a 2-1 victory over the suddenly cooling Royals. Dustin Ackley (pictured), who came on as a late-inning pinch runner, came through with the game-winning hit. … Brad Miller also had two hits, raising his average above .200. … Here's one man's major league power rankings. … The M's have not had the best of summers recently. … There may just be more arms in the minors than we thought.
• I don't know about you, but today seems to be a good day to get a nice breakfast and then relax until the soccer comes on. Wish I could do at least one of those things. You do them both and I will live vicariously through you. Until later …