For anyone who might be depressed that the USA is now out of the World Cup thanks to Ghana’s old fashioned third world boot to our national gentleman’s bits, I have a suggestion. Have you considered being a fan of professional cycling?
It has a lot of the same draw as the World Cup, and is even better in a lot of ways. It has the same great exotic locales, highly paid and colorfully dressed Europeans, and that vague sense that by watching it and knowing about it you are automatically entitled to be smug about purely American sports like NASCAR or competitive butter eating.
Perhaps best of all, we Americans are good at it! Lance Armstrong dominated cycling for seven years in a row, took some time off, then came back as a doddering old man and still places in the top ten overall. You know how when you see a cyclist you scream “GO LANCE” out the window of your SUV because you heard Uncle Bubba do it once and you laughed so hard you spilled your dip cup into your beer? That’s the guy!
We also have Levi Leipheimer, easily recognizable by his creepy bald head, and Dave Zabriskie, who has been known to cultivate a handlebar mustache and dress like Captain America.
There are other benefits as well. For instance, the vuvuzela is no threat whatsoever to the enjoyment of the race on television. The audio of the action is turned down so low you can barely hear the slap of a helicopter’s rotor against the air, let alone that of Cadel Evans’s open hand against other riders faces. If ten thousand people turned up to buzz vuvuzelas like a giant angry honeybee, you’d still be able to clearly hear Phil Liggett talking about whatever castle the camera helicopter happens to be flying over, and the riders would soon leave them behind anyway.
Also the professional cycling season happens every year. You don’t have to wait four years for the next Tour de France; there is one every July. This means that you can more easily familiarize yourself with the participants and know a little of the backstory before it begins.
It can be a little harder to find pubs to watch cycling in, but once you get there you will be treated to a host of rules that don’t make sense coupled with an admittedly confusing scoring system. However, if you are cheering for an American rider or an American team and they start to lag behind, you can immediately switch tracks and still feel like a winner. You see, there are American teams which employ foreign riders, but there are also foreign teams which employ American riders. The upshot here is that you can’t really lose if you’re good at changing your focus mid-race.
It’s not like college football where your wife and kids pack up and leave town for a few days if your team loses.
All I’m saying is, if you feel let down that the USA’s World Cup hopes are now dashed, and you still want to be a fan of an exotic foreign sport, consider professional cycling. The Tour de France starts in just a few short days and I would be glad to see you watching along with me!