Just got off the phone with Frank Deford. Earlier today, I pointed out that his commentary about soccer this morning was reasonably positive about the upcoming World Cup. So has he changed his mind about the game? Not at all. He finds soccer's low scores tedious, the frequency of ties stifling, the offsides rule ludicrous. Besides, he says, even though soccer players can do amazing things with their feet, it's nothing compared to the proficiency baseball players exhibit in a 6-4-3 double play.
And yet he confesses to be blown away by the World Cup. He says he loves to be swept up in the passion soccer fans outside the United States feel for their national teams. The most passionate sporting moment he ever experienced in his entire career was in 1990 when he was in Cameroon. Like virtually every other living person in Cameroon, Frank watched television as Cameroon played England in the quarterfinals. Cameroon scored first, and it was as if the entire country erupted in joy. It was, says Frank, an amazing experience.
Frank's not traveling to Germany for this year's World Cup. But he plans to watch from home on TV. And he even has a favorite team: Italy. But I'm pretty sure that when the World Cup's over, he'll go back to teasing soccer fans for being in love with such a boring game.
Many soccer fans are not fond of Frank Deford for his occasional musings about soccer and its lack of popularity as a spectator sport in the United States. Deford says someone sent him this photograph taken during a soccer match several years ago at RFK stadium in Washington, D.C. He says it hangs on a wall in his home.