THE CHEAP SEATS with STEVE CAMERON: Soccer — and politics — get readers riled up

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A couple days that include the Fourth of July should be…

Quiet.

No, not in parks, on lakes, and everywhere else folks choose to watch gorgeous explosions.

I’m referring to correspondence.

Wednesday and Thursday of this week figured to be pretty light on readers’ emails. I mean, really, you have so many other things to do.

But I was wrong.

That victory over England by the U.S. women’s soccer team — plus Alex Morgan’s cheeky “sip of tea,” and the ongoing anti-Trump patter from star Megan Rapinoe — seems to have wound people up in all sorts of directions.

I suppose there have been two-day periods when I’ve received more emails, but there’s never been anything CLOSE to all the weird and very different directions that arrived in this batch.

Perhaps one amazing theme covered plenty of them, and it finally brought the United States into line with the rest of the world.

At last…

We’ve lumped politics and soccer together in one mob scene.

AND YET…

The question that drowned out everything else may surprise you.

Although the following matters turned up in various emails, none of these debate issues came in at No. 1…

• Why doesn’t Megan Rapinoe just shut up and play?

• Or: Can’t President Trump just sip a Diet Coke and watch Rapinoe dazzle on the left wing?

• Was Morgan’s little shot at the Brits just one more example of squad arrogance that’s gone just a little too far?

• Or: Why is everyone whining about Morgan and her mates having a little fun?

• Is this second straight World Cup title just a foregone conclusion?

Or: Are we smug Yanks • Or: Are we smug Yanks overlooking the European champion Dutch, who are the only team in the world with depth even approaching the U.S.?

• How is Rapinoe’s dodgy hamstring?

• Or: Was there ever anything wrong with the hamstring in the first place, or was crafty coach Jill Ellis simply saving her veteran star’s legs for the final?

• Will the women visit the White House, as Trump put it, “win or lose”?

• Or, good grief: Are you kidding, with teammates Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris getting married after the tournament?

YEP, I’VE now got email files related to all those issues — with some pretty strong language, too.

My favorite came from a gentleman who wrote: “Who does Alex Morgan think she is, acting like a prom queen? But man, I wish she were still single.”

With that classic published for all time, let’s move on to the question that topped them all…

• “Why aren’t the U.S. men as good as the women? Or at least, not an embarrassment?

As one reader put it, the women are suing because they make so much less money. So why can’t these well-paid guys beat Honduras, or Trinidad and Tobago, or the other dinky nations in our region?

Needless to say, the men have never won a World Cup — or even come close.

They DID upset England 1-0 in 1950, still considered the most humiliating loss in English history.

But when you actually watch our guys matched against the globe’s elite teams, well, the Belgians and Germans and Spanish and Brazilians and the Liechtensteiners look like they’re playing a different sport.

Right now, we truly might be underdogs to ICELAND — which is like saying we couldn’t handle the Newfoundland Over-50 Men’s Club.

We’re even struggling with Mexico these days, and after a successful decade of winning these games, we’ve turned into soggy tacos.

IN FACT, the men get a crack at their longtime rivals on Sunday — yes, World Cup day for the women — when they face Mexico in the title game of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The ladies and Dutch kick off at 8 a.m., with the men featured in a 6 p.m. nightcap.

Perhaps I should wait until after these two matches to explain why we have huge success with one gender while plodding in mediocrity with the other.

We can delve into issues and recent changes, but here’s the short version…

The U.S. women’s national team got girls interested — maybe “crazed” is a better word — with their dramatic World Cup win in 1999.

Brandi Chastain took off her shirt after the winning penalty kick, and (literally) millions of American girls said, “I want to do that.”

And now they are — including losing their shirts for lots of glossy magazine spreads.

Meanwhile, the men…

Well, the rest of the planet has lived and died for the sport since the Brits invented it — all while we’ve been playing “football” and rarely putting a toe to the thing.

It’s a long, long way from Vince Lombardi to “Bend It Like Beckham.”

Sometime soon, we’ll talk about what makes it all even more complicated — a bit beyond the difference between Brandi and Cristiano Ronaldo ripping off their shirts.

But for now, hey, how about a USA sweep on Sunday?

Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns for The Press appear on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Steve also contributes the “Zags Tracker” package on Gonzaga basketball once monthly during the offseason.

Email: scameron@cdapress.com

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