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Gastelum: Let’s convert America into a soccer country (Feb. 9)

Andrew Gastelum | Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I just informed Adam Schefter and Chris Broussard that I have cancelled the NFL and the NBA seasons indefinitely. Sorry, Mr. Stern, now I am the most hated commissioner in all sports — but not really, who could ever take that title away from him (see the Chris Paul trade veto). It’s basically this past summer all over again, but now I called the players’ bluffs.

No more Super Bowl, no more Slam Dunk contest, no more hands — unless you want a yellow card.

That’s right, it is time to witness the rise of soccer, the original football.

As an American, I don’t have the hutzpah to cancel baseball and I don’t want to create an international crisis by canceling hockey and upsetting our neighbors to the north (see Vancouver riots). And as an Italian, I can’t stand to see soccer’s popularity continue to dive in a way that would even make Cristiano Ronaldo proud.

Soccer is the world’s game. It stops wars — such as in the Ivory Coast in 2006 — makes headlines and brings a country together like nothing else I have ever seen. Remember Landon Donovan’s last-second goal in 2010 or even Abby Wambach’s header against Brazil last summer? Kids playing football switched to soccer, casual viewers became fans, fans became die-hards. Now when do you remember a Super Bowl ever doing this?

In third-world countries, soccer is often the fabric that keeps the country together and creates national heroes. But as far as soccer goes, America is a third-world country. The money and resources put into soccer in the United States probably couldn’t even pay off Albert Pujols’ 93-year contract he signed with the Honolulu Angels of Anaheim (another thing I changed as commissioner to show how ridiculous the name change is).

America is undoubtedly the most athletic country in the world. So think of this: what if the best athletes in America played soccer?

Just imagine LeBron James jumping completely over the horrid Robin Van Persie (much to John Lucas’ delight) for a header into the top corner of the goal. Perhaps imagine how crazy it would be to see Larry Fitzgerald receiving a pass from the simply unreal Lionel Messi. Or how about Anthony Davis not moving whatsoever to make a save in the corner of the goal with his seven-foot wingspan (if he doesn’t make the save his unibrow will).

After all, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant admitted they would be international soccer stars if the money had been there.

So I am going to take all the money and resources in the NFL and the NBA and put it toward the MLS, which is one of the biggest jokes in the sporting world right now next to Dolphins fans posting pictures of Peyton Manning in a Fins jersey holding the Lombardi trophy and M.I.A. showing us her love of birds.

If you build it (stacks of straight-up cash), they will come. World-class players will easily hop the pond to play in the United States for the right price. And fans will surely flock to stadiums with these great athletes playing right down the street, coupled with the not-so-tragic loss of the NFL and NBA.

Then, we would be able to build the real soccer academies and the 80,000-seat palaces that have made the competition so great in Europe.

The fanaticism will quickly build and soccer will become the biggest sport in America. Could you imagine if the United States won a World Cup, which has basically been the sole property of Europe and Brazil? We would have McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and the World Cup — which would bring an enormous amount of hate and jealousy from the global community. What else could we want?


Contact Andrew Gastelum at agastelum@nd.edu

The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.