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2018 World Cup: America out, ratings down – a column by Joe Ferolito

The every-four-year men’s soccer extravaganza World Cup will come to a close Sunday. As of Monday, four teams – France, Belgium, England and Croatia – were left, out of the starting 32 teams in the event. It’s been reported that ratings are down for this year’s World Cup. Imagine that?

Purists don’t want to put one reason at the top, but I will. The main reason ratings are down is there’s no American team in it. We’re not hyper fans about soccer like much of the rest of the world. But if we have a dog in the hunt, we’ll watch it. If not, whether it’s politically correct or not, we won’t. Let me explain my take on the sport. When I was recreation director in Quincy I ran a soccer program and liked it.

It was not an expensive sport, needing only a ball, a T-shirt and some shin guards for each player. The playing field wasn’t hard to line, and girls and boys through the ages we sponsored the games could play together. Throughout the years we had what I considered successful programs, with sometimes upward of 100 kids involved.

As far as personally watching the sport, I claim to be anything but an enthusiast. I never watch pro soccer. The only time I watch the game is World Cup time and the Olympics, and to be honest I’d rather watch the women play. The main reason for that, I guess, is because most time our country’s women are a big dog in the hunt, because the American women have fielded some excellent teams recently.

Also, to me, the women seem to play with more passion and less bickering than the men do in their matches. All that leads to this: I’ve only watched two Cup matches this year, mostly because there was little else on. I saw England beat Colombia and Croatia beat Russia. Both games ended in kick-offs, which I thought was the best part. It’s kind of like a baseball walk-off game – it’s suddenly over.

Some of the game’s purists don’t like the kick-off rule because they think it’s kind of a cheap way to end things. But after watching the teams kick around a ball for two hours, including the overtime periods, in my opinion, something needs to give. I may watch the semi-final matches, or at least parts of them, or I may not.

If I do, I’ll pull for Belgium and Croatia, which I feel are somewhat underdogs. I wouldn’t pull for the Brits or the French anyway, as, politically, I think both countries have gone to Hades. So if it’s France and England in the finals, this set of eyes sure won’t help the ratings, and I may not watch it if Belgium or Croatia make it to the finals. I really don’t have a dog in the hunt.

By Joe Ferolito