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I was in Indianapolis last week. The weather was mild, and lots and lots of families were out and about, enjoying the Super Bowl Village and riding the zip line. The name Manning seemed to be on everyone's lips and replica jerseys. But Egypt was on my mind.
I'd intended to write about Michael Bradley this week, and still will. But the contrast between the riots at the game between El Masry and Al Ahly in Port Said stand in such startling contrast to the football fun fair that went on around me in downtown Indianapolis that I'm having trouble thinking that soccer is important.
But soccer is important. It's always been important to me, providing common cause with disparate and unlikely souls, thrills and despair galore, an appreciation of art, athleticism and drive, and ultimately a chance to linger as a big kid in a righteous adult world that's lost its ability to laugh at itself.
There is nothing funny about what's happening in Egypt. I came of age in the 1970s during the weekly nihilism of English football hooliganism. I never understood it as a kid, and I don't understand it now. But skinheads looking for a punch up with the police and visa versa is not what's happening in the land of the ancient pharaohs. Something much bigger is playing out across history and the 24-7 news channels before our eyes.
In a short while, I'll revert back to business as usual. I'll continue to be impressed by Bradley's completely unanticipated sterling Serie A season with Chievo Verona and ponder its portends for USA national team success. I'll also keep wondering when the mass of U.S. soccer fans who denigrated his selection on the national team during his father Bob's tenure as nepotism will give him the credit he deserves.
Yet, more than anything right now, I hope that Egypt's turbulence settles. That soccer in that country is just the same life accessory of dreams, diversion and delight that it's always been for me.