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Column: Love thy country

By Tim Fontenault
On May 8, 2014

There are many ways to show American pride, but mine is a little different.
Unlike a lot of Americans, I love soccer. Where a lot of people see 22 players kicking a ball around with little hope of doing anything exciting, I see 22 players playing an incredible sport that requires the highest level of athleticism, intelligence and confidence. Few things are as difficult as beating 10 players and a goalkeeper to score a goal, no matter how easy Cristiano Ronaldo makes it look.
A lot of Americans admit to only caring about soccer during the World Cup, when the United States national team competes against 31 of the best countries in the world.
Luckily, this summer brings the World Cup back into our lives, and I urge you all to embrace it.
Like the Olympics, the World Cup unifies us all. No matter where we come from or what professional team we root for, we all share a common love for the United States. Celebrating that passion together is a wonderful thing.
This passion is best displayed by the American Outlaws, an organization of 10,000 fans in 124 cities across the United States. During every match, these rowdy fans (at least those unlucky enough to not be bound for Brazil on one of the Outlaws' chartered flights) will pack their home bars to sing patriotic song and cheer for Jurgen Klinsmann's team as they fight their way through the Group of Death.
If you live in Connecticut, Damon's Tavern in Hartford will be the place to be during the World Cup. Damon's is the home of the Hartford chapter - and Connecticut's only chapter - of the Outlaws. With more than 200 members, the Hartford chapter is one of the largest and most passionate in the country.
Some of the people who frequent Damon's on the day of a game did not care for soccer before they joined the Outlaws. In fact, some were just at Damon's for a drink, saw the crazy fans supporting their country across the bar and decided to join in.
Now, they are at Damon's for every game, belting the national anthem and taking pride in being part of a group that simply loves its country.
You can watch the World Cup on your couch and enjoy it just fine. But I encourage all of you, especially you opponents of soccer, to find your local American Outlaws bar and join them for a game.
It will be one of the best decisions you ever made.

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