Since the start of the 2018 World Cup June 14 in various venues in Russia, my normal routine around the house has waned. With games mostly at 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., I’m glued to the couch and the tube.
With the absence of the U.S. national team, low TV viewership here in the states was predicted by many of the pundits, but that hasn’t happened.
So far, World Cup has averaged 3.7 million viewers on Fox Sports and Telemundo, and that doesn’t include the many folks livestreaming the matches.
On Anna Maria Island, Slim’s Place in Anna Maria is World Cup headquarters.
The level of play reinforces the incredible talent and skill of the players and teams. One bright spot has been a mandate from FIFA to not reward the typical flopping and diving by divas of the sport who, in past World Cups, spent too much time falling to the ground, writhing in pain.
Some players — Neymar from Brazil and Eden Hazzard of Belgium — still are trying to draw fouls by falling when a defender sneezes near them, but the referees are generally not buying it. The signal to play on leaves the team a man short while their teammate fakes injury.
The only improvement might be for the referees to hand out yellow cards to the divers. Two yellow cards result in a one-match suspension, so players would be reticent to risk diving if the referees penalized them.
Other positives from the Cup have been the upsets, including Iceland tying Argentina 1-1 June 16, Mexico’s 1-0 victory over defending World Cup champion Germany June 17 and Croatia’s 3-0 dismantling of Argentina June 21.
The best match so far may have been the 3-3 tie between favorites Spain and Portugal June 15 that saw the GOAT (greatest of all time) Cristiano Ronaldo tie the game in the 89th minute on a fantastic, curling free kick from 25 yards out.
With the final group matches set to conclude next week, some of the sport’s heavyweights are hanging on by threads, including Argentina, Germany and Brazil, which typically would clinch a spot in the knockout stage after two matches.
Who will win it all? Hard to say, but I’m liking Belgium’s chances to hoist the cup when play concludes July 10.
Key Royale golf news
Herb Clauhs and Art McMillan got the golf action at Key Royale Club off to a great start June 18 in a modified Stableford-system match.
McMillan and Clauhs both carded plus-4 to finish in a tie for first place. No work on who had to buy the post-match drinks in the clubhouse.
The women took to the course June 19 for a nine-hole, individual-low-net match in two flights.
Karen Mitchell earned clubhouse bragging rights for the day after firing a 4-under-par 28 that gave her a wide margin of victory in Flight A. Helen Pollack was alone in second place after carding a 6-over-par 38.
Sue Wheeler’s 1-under-par 31 gave her first place in Flight B over Jana Samuels and Fran Barford. Samuels finished in second with a 2-over-par 34, while Barford was another stroke back in third place.
Marilyn Niewijk managed a chip-in on the sixth hole to round out the round.
The men were back on the course June 21 for a nine-hole scramble. The team of Herb Clauhs, Lex Halakan, Art McMillan and Joe Muscatello matched the 3-under-par 29 carded by Mike Gille, Dick Mills and Karen and Scott Mitchell to share clubhouse bragging rights for the day.
Two teams emerged from pool play and were left to battle for the day’s supremacy during June 20 horseshoe action at the Anna Maria City Hall horseshoe pits. The team of Dom Livedoti and Jay Disbrow and walker Neil Hennessey managed the only 3-0 records in pool play. However, Livedoti and Disbrow were too much for Hennessey as they recorded a 21-15 victory to earn the day’s bragging rights.
Hennessey was again in the conversation during June 23 action, forging the lone 3-0 record in pool play and earning a trip to the winner’s circle.
Play gets underway at 9 a.m. every Wednesday and Saturday at the Anna Maria City Hall pits. Warmups begin at 8:45 a.m. followed by random team selection. There is no charge to play and everyone is welcome.
Last chance for youth soccer
The last day to sign up for the youth indoor soccer league for ages 3-17 at the Center of Anna Maria Island is June 30.
Mandatory player evaluations are set for Monday, July 2, starting with the 8-10 division at 6:30 p.m., the 11-13 division at 7:15 p.m. and the 14-17 division at 8 p.m. The younger divisions will take part in skills clinics and pickup games rather than evaluations.
The schedule begins July 10 with games played in the gym on Tuesday and possibly Wednesday nights.
Cost is $10 for members and $96 for non-members. To register, visit www.centerami.org or you stop in the center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.
Volunteer coaches are sought and questions about the league can be directed to Will Schenerlein at firstname.lastname@example.org or 941-778-1908, ext. 9205.