An unhappy ending and NASCAR vs. soccer

by Chris Aaland

There were no Sunday sports in my boxer shorts, to paraphrase a great Bottle Rockets song. I didn’t lounge in front of the couch watching the Peyton Mannings and Brett Favres of the world, beer kozie in one hand, bag of chips in the other. Instead, I readied myself for the NCAA’s webcast of the Fort Lewis vs. Grand Valley State women’s soccer game, screened at the Irish Embassy Pub on Sunday morning. That meant donning my best hooligan garb: my 2009 championship ring, commemorative 1999 Skyhawk/Ska soccer jersey and a hat signed by most of the members of the 1999 FLC men’s and women’s soccer squads. My juju didn’t bear fruit this time.

Past Embassy showings of Skyhawk fútbol playoff escapades have been packed to the gills with hooligans singing and swaying their team to victory. Sunday morning was far different, as only the most loyal of the fervent faithful showed up. By my count, only about six or seven pints were consumed and a handful of traditional Irish breakfasts ordered. By the time my blood sausage and eggs arrived, the Fort was already staring into the face of a 3-0 deficit. When I had sopped up the last of the creamy potatoes with my bread, the scoreboard read 5-0. No happy ending this year, yet the accomplishments of the 25-or-so women who represented the Fort on the pitch can’t be ignored. FLC women’s soccer won its first-ever league regular season title, climbed to No. 3 in the national polls, and advanced far deeper into the big dance than they’d ever gone before, all the way to the national quarterfinals.

So I trudged through the Sunday sleet back to my office to start the process of wrapping up the season. In the process, I missed what the ESPN guys called a great Sunday of the other football. Strangely, this fall’s NFL slate hasn’t really moved me. But I took in the MLS Cup, which featured the Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas on Sunday night in Toronto. And I did notice a few clips of NASCAR’s final Sprint Cup race in Homestead, Fla., in which Jimmie Johnson came from behind to claim the season title for the fifth year in a row.

Thus, I considered the irony of my Sunday sports viewing: The left-of-center, Bill Maher-watching crowd enjoyed a day of soccer. The tea-bagging, Glenn Beck-worshipping crew watched rednecks drive around in circles, smash into each other and burn fuel at an astronomical rate. America’s yin and yang, played out on vastly different stages.

I consider myself a bed-wetting liberal. Thus, I like soccer. But there’s certainly no shortage of redneck wirings in my brain, either, and I’m always tolerant of and a scosh curious about auto racing. One of my best high school friends, Shawn Nichols, even raced a few seasons at the Colorado National Speedway near Erie. Back in the ‘80s, it was a dirt track, a 3/8 mile oval that drew hundreds of Bubbas and Betties each Saturday night to watch drivers make the endless left hand turn, crash into the walls and get into fistfights in the pits. Shawn was a beast back then. He was the state high school heavyweight powerlifting champion and had signed on to play on the defensive line for the Fort Lewis football team. And he was in tears as they lined up for his first race, thinking of what fate awaited him during the race. He didn’t crash that day. He ran safely behind the pack and crossed the finish line. A moral victory.

So it was with regional pride that I screamed at the TV as the Rapids won their first-ever MLS Cup Sunday. And then I watched SportsCenter and was somewhat excited about Johnson’s record-setting, fifth straight Sprint Cup.

Thanksgiving week normally means more TV watching than music here in D-Town, what with the college kids gone and many others traveling to see family and friends. Still, there are a few happenings.

Celebrate Black Friday at Steamworks with the Give the Gift of Art event, starting at 3 p.m. It’s the opening of an art show that affords 30 artists the opportunity to showcase their work for all your holiday shopping needs. Buck the trend of wine and cheese at art openings in favor of beer and nachos, as happy hour draws of $1 award-winning Steamworks suds will be available.

This week’s Summit slate of events includes a Thanksgiving Freaking Fest with DJ Benjamin K, Peter Robot and DJ Make Believe at 8 p.m. tonight (Thurs., Nov. 25); an acoustic happy hour with Eric Kiefer from 6-9 p.m. Friday; Lucy with special guests at 10 p.m. Friday; another acoustic happy hour, this time with Rupnow & friends from 6-9 p.m. Saturday; RedEyedJinn at 10 p.m. Saturday; an open mic jam at 9 p.m. Tuesday and DJ Double D’s karaoke/Gong Show spectacular Wednesday.

The Starlight is sadly closed for Thanksgiving (what, no Bacontini to counter the effect of tryptophan?), meaning no Salsa Night, but it does boast a cornucopia of activities the rest of the week: dancing with DJ Double D from 9 ‘til close Friday, a “white party” with Smiley Coyote from 9 ‘til close Saturday, Musica del Mundo from 9 ‘til close Sunday and Swing Night with DJ Denny, offering free swing dance lessons starting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Also happening this week: Black Velvet plays the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio on Saturday; and Leo Rondue and the Dynamite Tales do alt-country at the Ska Brewing World Headquarters on Monday.

This week’s Top Shelf list examines auto racing vs. soccer:

Best tailgating: NASCAR, hands down. I’ll take ribs over tofu any day.

Best-dressed ladies: Daisy Dukes vs. Capris? Sorry, soccer moms.

Best punks: Colorado’s title game MVP, Conor Casey, edges out NASCAR bad boy Tony Stewart in a photo finish.

Best stadium music: Skynyrd vs. Oasis. Duh.

Best toys: Foosball tables vs. Hot Wheels sets. Score one for soccer.

Most annoying noisemakers: Vuvuzelas vs. the roar of engines. South Africa, hands down.

Best pin-up: Brandi Chastain’s abs vs. Danika Patrick lying across an Indy Car in a leather outfit. Danika hasn’t won diddly-poo. Chastain won a World Cup. Advantage soccer. ï®

Never did win no checkered flags? Email me at



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