Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Soccer Fans Show Passion in Early Hours

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Soccer Fans Show Passion in Early Hours

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods, Times-Union sports columnist

The first question: Stay up really late or get up really early?

The second: When a stranger graciously agrees to let you show up at his home at 2:25 a.m. to watch TV, what do you bring? Beer and pretzels? Coffee and bagels? What's the proper food for a 3:15 a.m. halftime?

"Did you forget to pay your cable bill?" Dave Proehl asked.

Actually, I have a satellite dish. However, if I did have cable, I would be tempted to "forget" to enclose a check and "accidentally" slip in a copy of the mayor's quotes from last week. But that's another matter. This wasn't about cable wars in Jacksonville. This was about a World Cup battle on the other side of the globe -- and finding soccer fans here who would be up watching it.

U.S. vs. South Korea.

I know, I know. You're probably rolling your eyes, making some crack about how you can't imagine being able to stay awake through a soccer game that ends at 4:30 a.m. You probably feel like the co-worker of mine who, the day after the U.S. upset Portugal, walked over to a window, looked around and said, "I don't see anybody dancing in the streets."

No, but earlier that morning, Proehl was jumping up and down in his family room. Dancing in the dark. Alone. Which somehow seems fitting.

I'm not going to argue that soccer has, or will, catch on as a huge spectator draw here. I will argue that the Americans who do love soccer are as passionate as any fans anywhere. I mean, it's easy to be a soccer fan in England or Brazil, just like it's easy being a football fan in Florida. But being a soccer fan here?

That requires hard work, devotion and, this month, an alarm clock.

"I set mine for 2:24," Proehl said when I arrived (with coffee). "But I woke up early."

He explained that it reminded him of being a kid, when the biggest thing in the world was going fishing with his grandfather and father. …

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