There was great interest and enthusiasm shown for the USA's run in the World Cup.

For our country to make it to the final 16 was wonderful, especially considering the drama the players created in the games while advancing to that level.

While it was fun, don't look for the rest of the world's version of football which we call soccer to replace America's football anytime soon here in the states.

This isn't to take away from the accomplishments and the great athletic abilities of our soccer players. It's just that American's have gotten comfortable with their football.

Here's why football will stay up there with baseball as America's favorite pastimes:

Ÿ It would be difficult to create "Fantasy Leagues" in soccer. In football, you pick quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends, defensive players, etc. and your success depends how well those players do. There aren't enough statistics kept with soccer to warrant such a "Fantasy League" interest; at least not compared to football.

Ÿ The Brits always brag that their version of football is more physical than our football since they don't have time-outs and there are no delays between plays. Part of the fun of football is the strategy aspect of it. Certainly soccer has a certain amount of strategy, too. But in football, it's fun guessing between plays what will come next: a long pass or a run through the middle or a reversal. It's great to see a long kickoff return or an amazing reception for a touchdown. These are the things missing in soccer to a football fan.

Ÿ Americans are infatuated with statistics. That's why we love hearing how many yards a running back has accumulated, how many sacks a lineman has made, and how many touchdowns a wide receiver has caught. Such stats are hard to gather with soccer.

Ÿ Las Vegas has to like football better because of gamblers' variation of betting formats, especially during the Superbowl when betting is done on which team will score first, who will lead by the half, will the first touchdown be by a pass or a run, etc. Even the football 'blocks' purchased during playoffs in offices would be an impossibility in soccer.

Ÿ For advertisers, the time-outs and changes of possession make football a better deal than soccer.

Soccer is catching on fast in the United States. More youths play soccer than football.

It's likely after the accomplishments of the American team in South Africa, that soccer here will be getting even more notice. The team in the World Cup proved a great representation of our country.

From a spectator point of view, though, don't expect soccer or English football to surpass American football any time soon as a top spectator sport.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com [1]