For starters, let me just say one thing: "Gooooalll!" There, that should wake up the sporting locust from his four-year hibernation and set his wings beating in fierce agitation.
Yes, somewhere in America, a tradition-minded sports writer -- or perhaps a blogger for some website -- is now rousing himself to belated action. He has heard that men in shorts from 32 nations are going to play soccer in South Africa starting Friday.
Of course, he is against it -- the soccer, not the shorts. (He has nothing against shorts except on soccer players. He sometimes wears shorts when he plays golf.) Worse yet, he has heard that the United States is taking part in this World Cup, which to him is against the order of nature. So he is dusting off the cobwebs on various cultural cliches to tell Americans not to enjoy it, just in case they might.
His column will say that this is all a colossal bore. Americans won't ever take to a sport where the result can be 0-0, or nil-nil, as the foreigners say.
Moreover, this is not an American game but alien, something that Arizona should take a stand against as an example for the rest of us. And don't call it football. It can't be football if the main object is kicking a ball with the foot.
The writer shall be praised for this daring commentary. Old men in barbershops will nod in agreement. Then they will get up and drive home past fields full of kids playing soccer. They will not notice the irony, because irony is an alien concept here in America.
Too bad. With old guys oblivious, the nation has been changing. America is always changing. That is the one constant.
Once upon a time, people went to the ballpark in coats, ties and hats as if they were going to a funeral. Today the ballpark is casual and unbuttoned and the only funereal sight is when the Pirates are playing.
Back in the day, people bought a cup of joe at a diner for a dime, and now they go to Starbucks to put down a mortgage deposit for a mocha frappuccino venti -- something that would have been incomprehensible 20 years ago. Now everybody understands "venti" is an Italian word that means bucket of caffeine.
And so it goes with soccer. There is nothing in the American character that says a round football is un-American. In fact, soccer has become as American as soccer mom and apple pie.
Show of hands, please. Who hasn't seen kids playing in their local community? If you haven't, then your cave probably doesn't have cable television either. Those "gooooalll!" moments sometimes make an appearance among ESPN's Top 10 Plays. Not often, but sometimes.
While Major League Soccer doesn't command the same attention as football, baseball, basketball or hockey, the game itself is hardly alien. All those kids and parents have educated America over a couple of generations. Many of them will be interested in the World Cup because it is the World Cup. As for the legion of soccer moms, they seem to find shorts rather fetching.
Not to boast, but I played a modest part in this growing familiarity with soccer in the United States. I was a youth coach for boys and girls around Salinas, Calif., and in the Pittsburgh area. Parents presumed I was an authority on the game, not because I displayed any knowledge but because I had a funny accent. They would be wise to me today.
Still, I am proud of my coaching career. We had our wins and losses. Indeed, if defeat is good for the soul, several of those kids grew up to be Mother Teresa. I remember the little boy and girl, about 7 years old, who played fullback for me. They held hands as they waited for the plays to develop. This did not deter strikers on the other team, but our goal area was a more sentimental place than usual.
In the 1950 World Cup, the United States achieved perhaps the biggest upset in all sports by beating mighty England 1-0. As it happens, the U.S. team plays England on Saturday and it would be an upset if the Americans prevail -- but not the greatest in all sports. The U.S. team is more than respectable now, precisely because of the huge base of athletes it draws from these days.
I hope my little fullbacks, now grown up, will watch the World Cup. I hope they stop holding hands only to gesture triumphantly and shout ""Gooooalll!" For Americans of their generation, it is an acceptably cool thing to do, no matter what the old troglodytes say.
Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. E-mail email@example.com.