Face it: As a nation, we're lagging. While the rest of the world has caught on to soccer, the metric system, and ethnic foods, we stubbornly hang on to baseball, inches, and french fries with ketchup. The time has come for Americans to stop resisting the inevitable. For decades we've been teaching our children soccer; now it looks as though we have to start caringabout the game.
And what better place to further our indoctrination than a big-time double-header at the 'Stick? Both games of international soccer (Guatemala vs. Peru and El Salvador vs. Paraguay) feature stalwarts of the South American fútbol landscape, battling it out as a precursor to the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football) Gold Cup. Peru and Paraguay are also tuning their legs for the qualifying matches of the 2006 World Cup (some kinda big-deal soccer party). Come out for all the low-scoring action! The first match starts at 7 p.m. at Candlestick Park, 602 Jamestown (at Harney), S.F. Advance tickets are $30-50; call 467-1994. -- Kevin Chanel
Lion Pride A fanciful dance tradition
San Francisco has managed to stay relatively SARS free, and for this we may have lion dancers to thank. Historically, lion dancing (involving a performer in a richly colored lion costume) has been staged to scare away evil spirits and to bring good luck at weddings and the like -- and to keep infectious disease at bay.
If you were near Chinatown on any weekday afternoon in May, you probably heard or saw it: A drum, cymbals, and a gong make lots of noise, and the dancing "lion" leads their playing. It's part performance art, part martial art, and all of it rich in tradition. If you missed the dancing in the streets, catch the National FreeStyle Lion Dance Championship. The competition begins at 9 a.m. at USF's War Memorial Gymnasium, on Golden Gate between Masonic and Parker, S.F. Admission is $20; call 577-8155 or visit www.lion-dancing.com. -- David Lionetti
Built in Sonora, weighing in at 2,650 tons, and able to carry a helicopter on her deck, the Mexican naval training ship Zapoteco is bigger and stronger than most ambassadors, but that's exactly what she is. The ship is here expressly to foster good will and international friendship between Mexico and the United States, and with the drama of her 237 feet, she's much more likely to promote oohs and ahhs than shock and awe. Perhaps our own armed forces could take a diplomacy lesson: The event is put on by Sail San Francisco, whose motto is "One World, One Ocean." Awww. The craft is open to viewers starting at noon on Thursday at Pier 45, Embarcadero & Taylor, S.F. Admission is free; call 447-9822 or visit www.sailsanfrancisco.org. -- Hiya Swanhuyser