Another View, Mine: May 2019

John Nieman

Regular visitors to this space are aware of my preoccupation with the sport of soccer. I began playing the sport in 1966, but since I live here in United States, my ability to watch top-level soccer was severely limited until the past few years. But from what I understand, even lifelong fans from around the world would agree that the past week has been the most exciting in world soccer ever.

From Vincent Kompany’s game-winning screamer last Sun­day, through the amazing comebacks by Liverpool and Totten­ham in the Champions League to the English Premier League’s Championship finish (which, even though it came down to the last day and the two teams at the top only separated by one point, after this week seemed almost anti-climatic) there has never been in my lifetime so much to relish in any sport.

There have been single games and moments in sport that were more exciting and inspiring, but there has never been a week of moments, one after the other, to make a fan appreciate and love their sport.

Now this is the place where I drone on about how all of this was virtually ignored by the media here in the United States. But even I have grown tired and bored about this constant complaint and so I’ll move on.

And so what is next for the true soccer fan?

I was privileged and lucky to be living in Chapel Hill and working in the sport of soccer during the late 80s and early 90s and to be able to experience firsthand the dominance of UNC Women’s Soccer. The absolute best women soccer players in in the United States all came to UNC to play. There were countless times where I told newcomers to the sport that if you really wanted to learn about the game go watch the UNC Women’s Soccer Team. The team is still top-notch, and it is not that UNC has declined, but that other teams have risen.

And so I look forward to this summer’s Women’s World Cup, featuring the always-favored United States team, populated as always UNC players.

There have been seven previous Women’s World Cups, the United States have won three and have never finished lower than third place. They are the current champions.

And so, if local flavor and nationalism are not enough to make you watch, catch a few games just to see the pure strategy and beauty of this wonderful game.

My wife, Martha, rides in equestrian events and we are the proud owners of horses. The finish of the Kentucky Derby may have been fair under the rules but it was certainly the most disappointing finish to a sporting event that I’ve ever witnessed. Luckily, the soccer got me through.

A hearty welcome to the High Point Rockers, the newest entrant in minor league baseball. I work in High Point and the stadium appears to be a future focal point for city growth. Will report in a later column once I’ve attended the game.

Plan on taking grandson Burke to his first NASCAR race next week at the Charlotte All-Star Race. Need to get him there before the sport completely implodes. Again, recent soccer events have so satisfied my sporting thoughts that even the dismal state of NASCAR cannot sour. There were more onlookers for accidents on I-85 South last Sunday then there were fans at the Dover race.

And even the fact that I am at the plateau of all plateaus will not be enough to wipe the smile off my face from this past week. Fat Boy Index: 295.