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Appreciating the beauty of sport, soccer to boxing

By Dave Reardon

LAST UPDATED: 10:24 p.m. HST, Aug 5, 2011

He went to every meet. He was extremely involved, knew everything about the athletes and followed all levels of competition. Then his kid graduated, completing her high school track and field career. And superfan was never seen again.

I thought this was kind of tacky ... at first. It didn't take long for me to adjust that thought, though. Who cares? What does it matter to me? Good that this parent supported his kid while she was in the sport.

It's our prerogative to be as fickle as we want as sports fans. So much of the rest of our lives requires commitment; we deserve flexibility in our relaxation.

And so it is that I now happily put my soccer-viewing on the shelf for the foreseeable future. Sorry, I'm just not hooked. Just as I wasn't when I played it as a kid, just as I wasn't when the Americans won the Women's World Cup in 1999, just as I wasn't last year when the U.S. men made a deep run for the Cup. I'm a bandwagon guy; I'll watch when the rest of the casual observers watch.

I've come to the conclusion I'm never going to love soccer for the nuances of "the beautiful game." To me, it is simple, with the same object as most other sports: create a mismatch at a point of attack and put a ball in, past or through a goal. Sure, there are different styles, different tactics ... but when you boil it all down, soccer strategy and tactics are not any more diverse or layered than those of football or basketball or a half dozen other team ball sports.

That doesn't mean I can't appreciate a great soccer game with plenty on the line, like Japan edging the United States in the World Cup final. I don't know about Japan "needing" to win, but people who have dealt with so much anguish in recent months can now enjoy some national pride, and that's very cool. And America can likewise be proud of a classy team that made no excuses after the loss, probably the toughest one for all involved.

If you now find yourself a newly minted soccer fan? Hey, knock yourself out, enjoy. I'll see you in three years, sooner if we get a local player in the Olympics, the University of Hawaii team gets something special going (and there's a good chance of that, with Michele Nagamine as the new coach), or a very compelling human interest or underdog story comes out of the local high school ranks.

As for the cretins who felt a need to somehow relate a soccer match in 2011 to Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Social media has leveled the communication playing field and given everyone a voice. When so many use that voice to display racism it makes a sad, lingering reality apparent. At least messages of apology from other Americans drowned out those of the ignorant.

IN THE WORLD championship event over the weekend that an American won, Brian Viloria delivered for the home crowd again. As he does always.

The Waipahu product who enters the ring to "Hawaii Five-0" is now 5-0 in Hawaii.

A world title, Viloria's third. But if it even made the ESPN crawl, none of us in the sports department saw it.

Flyweight boxers just don't make the national news anymore, no matter how good they are (except in the Olympics).

International? Well, Viloria is huge in the Philippines. His fights there draw in excess of 10,000. Saturday's promotion, which drew only around 2,500, would have been a dicey fiscal proposition for the Viloria camp if not for pay-per-view in the Philippines.

For the next Viloria fight here (hopefully within one year, not two), a better effort needs to be made to market the card in traditional boxing hotbeds like Kalihi and Waipahu ... also the military bases.

Hopefully the economy is better upon Viloria's return, because $55 is a lot of money for many fight fans, even for a world title bout.

And we need heavyweights on the card. They don't even have to be very skilled. The prospect of big men whaling away at each other adds spice to any fistic lineup.

Yes, MMA's overshadowing of boxing is a large factor. But not one that can't be overcome.

Like I said, you choose what you want to get behind as a sports fan. But Viloria is 30 now. You might regret it later if you never see him fight in person.

Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at, his "Quick Reads" blog at and

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