Football that primarily uses the players' feet? Uncanny! It's the growing sport of Soccer, what the rest of the world calls football, and if it can overcome its internal difficulties it's set to become the next great American sport!
Yes, the "Other Football" may not have the glory of the Gridiron yet, but if the growing popularity of the American Soccer League is any indication, this popular European sport, which is already outpacing Basketball as America's favorite Second Tier sport, the future of US Soccer may be golden.
The ASL is bringing in the fans up in the US northeast by attracting the best talent from England and Scotland. The many European imigrants that have come to this great nation have brought with them a love for the sport, and they are happy to share the enthusiasm with the native born.
Soccer is an athelete's game for sure. No hands, just feet, heads, and bodies, requiring a complete rethink on the possibilities of the human body. While not quite the violent crush match of its American homonym, Soccer, much like Basketball, is a fast-paced constant motion game of positions unbroken by downs or outs. The young men are constantly darting, sprinting, and moving the ball, and a fan dares not take his eyes off the game for a second, less he miss the big GOAL.
Several incredible teams are lining up on the field, including the great Bethlehem Steel team, the Boston Wonder Workers, the Brooklyn Wanderers, the New York Field Club, the Paterson Silk Sox, the New Bedford Whalers, and the Bridgeport Bears. But the undisputed masters of this athleticism are the Fall River Marksmen [shown above; image from wikimedia], a Boston area team who have well earned their name given the deadly accuracy of their kicks. Who can forget their 1924 Open Cup Final victory over Vesper Buick of St. Louis?
Fall River has a two-pronged power with an offense dominated by the devastating forward Harold Brittain and defended by the nearly impassable Ned Tate and Finlay Kerr. This dream team has dominated the field for this entire dacade, winning nearly every ASL championship and Challange Cup and placing no less that third in the few titles they missed. No one else even comes close to matching the devastation of the Marksmen!
And it pleases us at the Cabaret to notice the natives and new arrivals, immigrants and not, catholics and protestants and jews and others all playing as a team, proving once again that our nation's strength is its unity. Take that, KKK and Nativists! Now if only the color barrier can be breached...all in good time, I guess.
Yet all this assumes the sport even has a future. Infighting and competative venues between the ASL and the US Football Association, the two big Soccer groups, threatens to tear the sport apart at the seams. Charles Stoneham, a Tammany Hall guy with some shady connections to Arnold Rothstein, has convinved the ASL to boycott the USFA Challange Cup. Not everyone is in agreement whether this was a wise choice, particularly given the recent emergence of the World Cup as a worldwine venue.
Whether this infighting will hurt this fledgling star spectacle remains to be seen*, but don't count Soccer out yet, folks, for if this sport has one thing going for it, it is gumption!
So let us celebrate this new great American sport with a cocktail that stings like a Brittain drive: the Stinger:
[image from liquor.com]
Pour into an Old Fashioned glass with crushed ice and stir well. Garnish with mint sprigs (optional)
* Needless to say, this dispute, followed closely by the Great Depression, sounded the death knell for American Soccer. It's only in recent years that Soccer has made real inroads into the US despite being the world's most popular sport.