Which of the following trends is not a threat to America?

a) A record and rising $17.5 trillion national debt

b) An historically low labor-participation rate

c) Decaying infrastructure

d) Soccer's rising popularity from sea to shining sea.

Correct answer: d.

Yet some on the right wrongly see soccer as a menace. Last week, columnist Ann Coulter even wrote: "Soccer is like the metric system, which liberals also adore because it's European. Naturally, the metric system emerged from the French Revolution, during the brief intervals when they weren't committing mass murder by guillotine."

Too bad too many folks absurdly detect insidious motives behind virtually every human endeavor - including sports. That includes folks on the left: Alex Kane, world editor of alternet.org, recently bemoaned the ongoing World Cup for its "displacement of the poor," "worker mistreatment" and "environmental damage" in Brazil.

Picky, picky, picky.

Hey, left, right or in between, it's OK to like - and play - more than one sport.

For instance, Obed Ariri, aka "The Automatic African," played both futbol and football for the Clemson Tigers from 1977-80. He then played both pro soccer and pro football.

Pop test: Who was the holder for Ariri's then-record-setting placekicking on the Clemson football team? (answer at column's end).

Back to the pitch

Among the life lessons Americans should learn from "The Beautiful Game" ...

Patience: Those long waits for goals pack powerful tonic for what ails our instant-gratification culture.

History: When the Germans, who made the quarterfinals with Monday's 2-1 rout of Algeria, sing their national anthem, the lyrics no longer include "Deutschland über alles." That's because though Germany beat the U.S. last week, it didn't beat the U.S. - or Russia or Britain - in World War II.

Life isn't fair: A few tough breaks (and bad calls) led to Greece's "knockout" loss to Costa Rica on Sunday (1-1, then 5-3 on penalty kicks).

Philosophy: Greece's lone goal Sunday was scored by Socrates, aka Sokratis Papastathopoulos. He even engaged in some Socratic debate with the blundering officials.

All the world's a stage: The Netherlands got past Mexico, 2-1, on Sunday with a rally capped by a "flop" as Arjen Robben fell to the turf to draw a dubious foul call inside the penalty box. He then converted the penalty kick for the clincher. See, life really isn't fair.

But lest you brand futbol as un-American because it's so unlike football, keep in mind that our so-called national pastime is very unlike football, too. The late George Carlin delivered an epic account of that contrast.

So yes, you can still root for the U.S. to win the World Cup by winning four straight, starting with a victory over Belgium today, without fearing a soccer-popularity surge that destroys our republic.

And yes, you can see high-quality futbol up close and personal at Daniel Island's Blackbaud Stadium at 7:30 p.m. July 12 - Charlotte Eagles vs. Charleston Battery.

Big-time talent also graces college soccer in these parts.

Flash back to Furman's 1-0 squeaker over the College of Charleston in the 2001 Southern Conference Tournament semifinals at Patriots Point:

The only goal was scored by Patrick Tanner. But the assist came on a corner kick from Paladin freshman Clint Dempsey - the current U.S. captain who's already scored two goals in the World Cup.

Answer: Bo Blanton, who stepped down after 16 years on the Dorchester District 2 School Board in 2012, was Ariri's holder at Clemson.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.