Waffle House > Belgian waffles

What's that? Belgian waffles, per se, are not popular in Belgium? They prefer Brussels waffles and Liege waffles?

Chicken and waffles > Brussels and Liege

Futbol fever.

Coleman Boulevard is not Copacabana Beach. But lots of different soccer jerseys have been spotted during World Cup watch parties at Wild Wing Café in Mount Pleasant, where it will be red, white and blue for Tuesday afternoon's U.S.-Belgium match.

Run the picket fence at 'em.

Flood the zone.


We're cheering here, there and everywhere between Edisto Island and Catalina. The combined ESPN/Univision TV ratings for the U.S.-Portugal draw (24.7 million viewers) topped the NCAA men's basketball championship game, the World Series, the NBA Finals, the Daytona 500, the Masters, the Stanley Cup finals and Wimbledon.

And the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

ESPN's radio coverage from Brazil, highlighted by analyst Tommy Smith's biting critiques, is even better.

World Cup mania in the U.S. is simply explained: Americans, who have always liked top-level sports entertainment, have embraced the World Cup as pushed along by young video "gamers" and a social media frenzy that finally connects the U.S. with fever-pitch world interest.

Yes, this is important enough to drink beer and hope for your least favorite players, no how many caps they have, to be "sent off" before a game ends in penalty kicks. Viva international flavor with local flair.

FIFA, the video game

There was a line outside The Alley last week, South Carolinians waiting and sweating on Columbus Street to get into a bowling-themed bar and grill to watch the U.S. play Germany on some pitch in Recife.

A group of hungry baseball players eating lunch between travel league games in Columbia on Sunday were as captivated by the Mexico-Netherlands match as with any part of their Firehouse subs.

Clerks at GameStop video game stores in West Ashley and Mount Pleasant said Monday sales of Electronic Arts' FIFA video game - the underrated key to American soccer popularity - have been brisk during the World Cup. That goes with the national trend; FIFA represents 25 percent of all EA sales, and EA senior producer Nick Channon told USA Today there has been a "huge influx" during the World Cup.

Most of those players are young people who were familiar with World Cup jersey colors and stars long before this summer's first match in Brazil.

Statistics indicate that most of these gamers will grow up and have kids. Those kids are not as likely to have the cynical disdain for soccer seen in previous generations.

Though some of that is warranted.

The World Cup is so American. A melting pot of competition.

The World Cup is so un-American. We advanced with a loss? The most powerful nation in world history has only one victory and that was against dreaded Ghana?

Flat participation

The wave of soccer interest might get oddly splintered after the World Cup.

Youth participation?

Probably not so much.

The U.S. Soccer Federation, the organization that governs most youth soccer leagues, reports that signups were essentially flat from 2008-2012. With lacrosse gaining in popularity, soccer might stay that way or lose players without a large impact from recent immigrants.

But with FIFA (the video game) and FIFA (the World Cup) gobbling attention among soccer fans that have never or only briefly played the game, the seeds have been sown. Even without a Brazilian dance beat and beaches, the 2018 World Cup in Russia will shatter TV ratings.

In Colombia, and Columbia.

Not just in a Lowcountry (Belgium), but in the Lowcountry.

Pass the wings and waffles.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.