TV

World Cup Begins

As the World Cup kicks off today in South Africa, all eyes are on Saturday's matchup between the US and Britain (ESPN, 1:30 p.m.)



As someone who carries the passport and citizenship of both countries, I know who I will be pulling for.



Rule Britannia!



Here's why: Americans don't give a flying fig about the beautiful game. Should the US win tomorrow, there will be some celebration, some high-fiving, etc. But even if the US were to make a run and win the Cup, would the average American even care?



Would there be parades, headlines, confetti and so forth? I think not.



Stop anyone on any street in the US and ask them to name even one player on this year's US squad. The average person can't do it, let alone name the team's starting lineup.



If I thought a US victory would lead to a boost of soccer interest in this country, I'd wholeheartedly support the team.



But let's face it -- the US held the Cup tournament in 1994. Did it lead to a boost in soccer interest then? No.



Soccer is barely a blip on the collective US consciousness, while in Britain, it's a way of life. People are identified by which team they support. (My dad's is Tottenham, btw).



The closest equivalent in the US would be college football, in which people really identify with the school they support. (In some parts of the country, such as Tobacco Road in North Carolina, it's college basketball).



Do you ever see soccer coming close to that level of fandom in the US? I think not.



ESPN has been hyping the heck out of its World Cup coverage (all matches will be televised on at least one of the channels in their network during the Cup), but let's face it, this is the same ESPN that employs Alexei Lalas as its "expert" and has dubbed Landon Donovan as the face of US soccer.



I actually agree with that -- Donovan has been the face of US soccer's mediocrity over the years. Remember his performance in the Cup four years ago? Don't feel bad -- nobody does. That's because he didn't do anything on the field as the US bowed out early.



At the end of the day, sports is all about having a passion for a team. The Brits feel this passion for soccer, and so do I.



WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Sunday has two highlights -- the season finale of "Breaking Bad" (AMC, 10 p.m.) and the third season premiere of "True Blood" (HBO, 9 p.m.)



"Breaking Bad" has been its usual level of awesome, and last week's ending was one of the best the show has ever done. I can't wait to see what happens next.



Meanwhile, "True Blood" picks up where last season left off: Bill has been kidnapped just after proposing to Sookie; Erik has been dealing vampire blood to humans; Jason is trying to live with the consequences of accidentally killing someone during a misunderstanding; and Sam is seeking his true parents. This season, werewolves, the ancient enemies of vampires, enter the picture.



"True Blood," at first savaged by the critics, has grown into a major hit for HBO and is a ridiculous amount of fun. For Middle Georgians, there's the added bonus of Macon-born Carrie Preston being a regular on the show. (There's a recap for the show's previous season at 8:45 p.m. for those who need a refresher.)



Other highlights this weekend include a new "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 8 p.m.) tonight and a new "Flashpoint" (CBS, 9 p.m.), as well as the season finale of "Stargate Universe" (SyFy, 9 p.m.) and a new "Merlin" (SyFy, 10 p.m.)



On Saturday, there's a new "Doctor Who" (BBC America, 9 p.m.)



On Sunday, "The Tudors" (Showtime, 9 p.m.) winds down, while CBS broadcasts the Tony Awards, beginning at 8 p.m.

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