Friday, June 11, 2010

The Ritual Attack of the Soccer Scolds

It's happening again.

The most puzzling part of anti-American soccer obsession is that it's not like Americans don't like the game of soccer. We all play it at the youth level and--for the most part--have a good time. It's just that we graduate up to other sports and don't have much of an appetite for soccer played at the elite level.

And what's wrong with that? Our interest level in soccer is the mirror image of our interest level in football, which, comparatively few people play at the youth level, but which has great popularity at the professional level.

But the thing is, you never hear football--or baseball, or ultimate frisbee, or tennis, or cycling, or hockey, or curling--or any other kind of fans railing against people who don't share their passion as if there's something morally and politically wrong with them. Why is it that soccer fans care so much about what American's don't care about?

We'll never know.

I, for one, choose to be soccer agnostic in an attempt to facilitate world peace. Imagine, for a moment, if Americans really did care about high-level soccer and put real effort into producing professional-caliber players.

Now imagine what would have happened if, in 2006, the U.S. had won the World Cup with the dastardly George W. Bush as president!

Really, the rest of the world should be grateful that we don't care about their sport.

Update: The Czabe holds forth on why soccer doesn't blow his skirt up:

There are many stupid things about soccer, but the lack of scoring remains the stupidest.
A 1-0 deficit, and your side is playing with the burden of 11 elephants on their backs.
A 2-0 deficit and you are now just out there getting some exercise.
A 3-0 defeat and the newspapers back home will call you an “embarassment.”
This level of scoring just doesn't make sense. It is so hard to score in soccer, it would be like basketball played on 30 foot rims.
Soccer eliminates the most fundamentally exciting thing about sports: the comeback.


Unknown said...

Jon -

For a guy whose agnostic and doesn't care about soccer/futbol/football you sure do spend a lot of ink rallying against it.

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Unknown said...

I'm an American who actually loves soccer, looks forward to the World Cup more than the Olympics, and has made a few trips to London to watch Premier League games (well, mostly to drink in pubs with friends, but the "watch soccer" angle makes it more socially acceptable). My favorite sport always has been and always will be football, but I love soccer.

Yes, some people are hopelessly, stupidly enamored with soccer. But that's no different than any other sport. See, e.g., George Will; Ken Burns.

The difference is that, for soccer, the passion seems to begin at the border. So there's necessarily some overlap between anti-Americanism and soccer, with some people embracing it simply because the rest of the world does it differently than America. And that stinks.

But that love is often pure. I've never been big on trying to convert people to soccer, but I know many people are, in the same way that people are evangelical about anything they love:

music (no fewer than 5 people in the last 6 months have tried to convert me to some cult called The Black Keys);
movies (never understood Woody Allen, but that's not for lack of my friends trying);
books (Holden Caulfield was a dick);
art (Damien Hirst is proof that modern art is lost);
politics (Obama);

And whenever people talk about something they love and you don't, it's imbued with a sense of superiority. Because they see something you don't, and that makes them better, more astute, more observant, more sensitive. We can all claim that we're just trying to educate the populace, but we're really trying to open their eyes to the truth, which they just can't see yet.

Holy crap. I just realized how long I've been typing on this. I claim I'm not evangelical about soccer, but I'm apparently evangelical about defending soccer evangelism. I've just destroyed my own point. My apologies.

Anonymous said...

The simple answer it that elite athletes in Europe & South America play football/soccer: The elite athletes in the US play other sports.

The World Cup is for wide eyed, naive internationalists. Club football/soccer is where it's at: Wear a Yankees logo in Boston, you'll get dirty looks and maybe a comment or 2. Wear a Manchester United logo in Liverpool or in a Cockney pub in London and you are going to the hospital 9 times out if 10.

E R E said...


Jonathan B. said...

Certain people like it precisely because it is an un-American phenomenon. It is a badge of allegiance for a certain self-elected elite. It's the same people that deliberately only listen to music that nobody else has ever heard of or those people that brag that they're finding that Camus book they are reading "really makes them think about things in a different way".

Unknown said...

Ace of Spades HQ links to an article on NPR that reveals the real reason you racist teabaggers hate soccer:

... Raaaaacist!

Ace offers some alternative theories, but I like the "too many brown people" one. Sure, there are some disadvantages (e.g., the comparative racial make-up of the World Cup, which is largely Caucasian, and the NBA, NFL, or MLB, which are largely African-American or Hispanic). But it just fits so neatly with what we already know that it's simply got to be true.

Remigio said...

The lack of scoring is a quantity over quality thing. It makes every goal and every comeback the most epic miracle anyone's ever seen.

Also, think of it this way: if a team lost in US football 21 to 0, that's an embarrasment. But it's only 3 touchdowns! The amount of points from a score is arbitrary.

MrTuktoyaktuk said...

That should be "Counterattack" of the Soccer Scolds. Most defenses of soccer I've seen have been in response to rather broad statements outlining soccer's shortcomings. Some of these shortcomings are true. However, many haters run out a few shortcomings and disparage the entire sport. Let me put it this way - some may find my girlfriend homely, and this may be true according to current tastes, but if you call her ugly in front of me, I'll get in your face.

Unknown said...

More in support of your point:

Please note that the (American) author is not rooting for America, and he wonders why Americans have to screw up the World Cup by rooting for their own team.

I just puked a little.