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Don’t expect me to write about the World Cup

by J.W. Miller on 06/25/18

I have written before about this friend who is such a basic sports fanatic that I call him “Coach.” You probably know him. He’s the guy who walks up to you and throws out a non-sequitur that has nothing to do with anything in your sphere of interest, but exposes the fact that you didn’t watch the same college football spring game that he did. That’s not intended to reflect a fault as much as it is the fact that we live amid various denominations of the Church of Football and Some Other Stuff.

I saw him this week, and his opening comment to me was “Man, there is nothing going on now!” I had to think about that for a moment, but I knew what he meant. The basic sports fan has entered the annual hibernation period, commonly known as the “slow season.” Spring football practice is over. The NBA Finals and Draft are over. The Triple Crown of racing is over. The Saints have adjourned off-season training and won’t be seen until late July. Local teams were shut out of the College World Series and nobody can get too excited about Major League Baseball before the All-Star break. “Coach” is going to bed now and will pull the covers over his head until the Saints report to training camp. 

The eclectic sporting fan out there might be questioning Coach’s very narrow focus, especially in a week when the World Cup is about the coolest thing going in the rest of the world and is even drawing some attention from sea to shining sea. But I am with Coach on that subject. Don’t expect me to spend much ink on the World Cup. About this time in 2014, I wrote a rather pithy column about the USA’s advancing to the World Cup’s Round of 16. That column drew the lowest click-in rate of any column in the eight years I've been doing this thing. "Click-in rate" is cyberspeak for "nobody gives a rat's patoot!"

The column sounded like a good idea at the time. USA soccer fans finally had a legitimate reason to join the World Cup party. Alas, I suspect that such professed excitement was more out of patriotism than because they were soccer fans. The same fans probably would have cheered the USA just as avidly if it were a donkey basketball tournament. 

But this year, with “USA” sadly missing from all participating sweaters, nobody I know is rushing to watch the next group match between Senegal and Colombia. I even once made a reference to “Brandi’s Bra Moment” in a headline – citing USA soccer star Brandi Chastain’s stripping down to her sports bra while celebrating the USA Women’s 1999 World Cup victory. Still no interest. Sex might sell, but not with soccer. That’s not to cast basic American sporting fans as classless rubes, but, like “Coach,” the sports interests of my audience are drawn in a very narrow focus. 

This time of year is a No Man’s Land for the basic sporting fan. Drew Brees and his family is probably in Maui. The Pelicans brass are trying to decide what to do about impending free agents DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo. Ed Orgeron is having a beer while sticking pins in his Nick Saban doll. Les Miles is having a Shirley Temple while sticking pins in his Ed Orgeron doll. Death Valley, the Superdome and the Smoothie King Center are all idle, deserts of disinterest for the basic sports fan.

And I won't bore you with any more mentions of the World Cup. 

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NFL Selections 
Week 11

Take Lions +4.5 vs. Panthers
Take Steelers at Jaguars +4.5
Take Falcons over Cowboys +3.5
Take Bears over Vikings +2.5
Take Eagles +7.5 at Saints

Last week's results 3-2
Season results 25-22-3

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QB Drew Brees leaps the line for a touchdown during the Saints' 51-14 romp over the Bengals. Brees' play has earned him consideration for NFL MVP.