Monday, May 22, 2006


"But what drives me nuts most about soccer is the theatrics of the players."

Right Wing News has a feature every so often called Q and A Friday, in which John Hawkins will take questions in a comment section and then select a few he's interested in and answer them on his blog. The initial experiment was so successful that now he's done 40 of these by this date and it is a regular feature.

Last Friday, RWN answered the question "Are Americans Excited About The World Cup?"

Answer: Oh, yeah, a lot of people are excited about the World Cup. In fact, it's such a big deal that I hear that the ESPN Alternate 2 channel is about to drop semi-regional ping pong tournament finals being held at the Boise, Idaho YMCA just to show the World Cup.

Also, there are people with insomnia who'll get the best night's sleep they've gotten in months as they nod off as Angola and Togo play to a thrilling 0-0 tie.

Otherwise, I'm not sure that most Americans are ready for a sport like soccer that features all the excitement of a well played game of checkers and all the strategy that we've come to expect from a game of freeze tag.

All sarcasm aside, Soccer (Football) never caught on in the United States like it has other nations, and commenters discussed why:
I thought that ESPN2 was going to preempt this for a Magic: the Gathering tournament.

Anyone who says soccer is boring and then says they love baseball has zero credibity in my books (unless you like watching men spitting and scratching themselves!).
-by Paulehansen


"I thought that ESPN2 was going to preempt this for a Magic: the Gathering tournament."
Heh. That would be cool too.

Seriously, soccer will probably never be as big in the US as football (huge), basketball (also huge), or baseball (still big) - but its got a good chance of passing Hockey for 4th place.

The thing about soccer is that it is alot more fun to play than to watch, and you probably won't enjoy watching it unless you've played it alot. It's also a great game for mixed gender. It can be played as a low enough contact sport in which physical size is less important than experience, endurance, and speed.

But the real attraction to soccer, and the real reason its so loved by the rest of the world, is that it doesn't take much equipment to play the game as its intended. Since this is less of an issue in the US, I don't think it will ever be the game in the US.
-by Celebrim

I actually enjoy soccer-football during World Cup time, which pretty much means I enjoy soccer-football every four years only.

What I like about it: there's a lot of thinking going on on the pitch (field for us Americans). The execution of strategy during a hurried rush up the field can be dramatically exciting. For most of the players they are constantly running while others may not be running. PLUS, big for me, no commericals during the match; there's no mandatory T.V. timeout or any stupid crap like that like at the SuperBowl.

What I hate about it: I've seen some complete Drunk Fests on the pitch, meaning a majority or all of the players on both teams must be drunk because they can't seem to handle the ball, even when its dry and sunny out. BIGGEST PET PEEVE: THE INCONSISTANT OFFSIDES CALLS! Catching a highlight of the Champions League Cup between Barcelona and Arsenal I watched four plays whislted dead and one of the goals that was similar to the previous four whistled dead plays be allowed.

Granted, this is a sport where the rest of the world sticks it to the U.S., but I do enjoy it every four years, and unlike the previous World Cups our team is ranked very high in the FIFA power rankings. I think we might have a chance.
-by Corporate_Cabana

Speaking as a fan of any and all sports (yes, even women's golf. Natalie Gulbis. mmmmm) soccer has its moments ... but they are few and far between. Like beating Mexico four years ago. The MLS? Never watched a game. Never will. And whose bright idea was it to create a women's professional soccer league?

Anyway. What's with stoppage time and not being able to know how much time is in stoppage time? Only the ref knows how much time is left? Why should we believe him?

Get rid of offsides. If you can't get your butt back behind the last offensive player - at all times - then you deserve to be scored on.

But what drives me nuts most about soccer is the theatrics of the players. You scored a goal. Bully for you. Act like you've been there before. And worse? I have, never, ever seen a bigger bunch of floppers, con artists and, well, p*ssies when it comes to contact. Somebody so much as breathes on another player and he's down, writhing in pain like his leg is broken in 10 places. Yet, lo and behold, three minutes later he's running the field like nothing happened. Can't stand it.

In any case, I'll watch a few of the games. I have two, favorite teams: The US and any opponent of the Axis of Weasels.
-by jimg

From London where I play soccer 4 times per week: I once watched the Dallas Cowboys play the Chicago Refrigerators at 'football' at Wembley. 3 hours of pom-poms and standing around. God almighty. These literal and figurative tossers in helmets and padding would collapse on a rugby field.
When I used to play indoor soccer in Houston it was great apart from the mixed games. Ugh. I was told there that soccer is the biggest participation sport in the US. It seemed like it. In Manhattan at Chelsea Piers it was awful. Constant substitutions. You never got tired.
Bottom line if you don't play when you're a kid, it's not in your blood and you play clunky. It's great that Yanks think 'football' is interesting. What a mystery.
I love soccer to play, but rugby is the best spectator sport.
-by markadams999

>tossers in helmets and padding would collapse on a rugby field.
Not likely. The rugby players would have a brain hemorrhage the second they were tackled by an American Football player. There is a reason we wear helmets and padding: our footballers weigh 300 pounds, mostly solid muscle and tackle each other with the full force of it.

It is a complete myth that Brits are tougher because they don't wear gear; in fact they are foofoo Frenchmen compared to our guys.
-by economicliberty

I don't think many people in the US are excited by soccer or the world cup, but there are not a few fans, especially in college where it's considered cool and enlightened to like soccer, even if you don't really, because europeans are big fans.

And regarding pads and being tough: pads work two ways, they allow you not only to sustain more damage, but to deal more damage. You can do things such as charge full speed into an opponent wearing pads that would break bones and knock you silly without them. Yes, gigantic guys crushing into you without pads would be very bad for the crushee, but it would be for the crusher as well - that's why while rugby is a full-contact sport, you don't see NFL type guys doing NFL type tackles.
-by Christopher_Taylor

"But the fact is that its easy to get banged up by a 130 pound knock-kneed Brit on a rugby field without padding; now put that wanker on an American Football field in all the prissy padding and let him get hit by one of ours - 250 or 300 pounds of solid rock muscle, throwing him down on the ground, piling on him by twos and threes."
Dan Carter for the All Blacks might well be able to play in the NFL as a strong safety if he wasn't in rugby, but yeah - nationalist triumphalism aside - he'd definately want to do so in pads.

You're right that they don't have anything like linemen in Rugby, but the bigger players could play the secondary, running back, and possibly outside linebacker. I think that they lack the raw speed or size or strength of some of the NFL's positions, and they're definately under height pretty much across the board, but these are serious atheletes. Doug Flutie for instance would have been a great rugby player, maybe even a better rugby player than he was a quarterback and he was a darn fine QB.

Of course, the thing to keep in mind here is that even the best Rugby team in the world is drawing on a smaller pool of atheletes than any single NFL team. The All-Blacks have roughly the same pool of available atheletes as one of the larger college teams. If New Zealand was sending players to the NFL instead of Rugby, it would probably send one or two a year. Still, I've little reason to believe that the Kiwi's couldn't field a respectable football team. In fact, they are one of the few places in the world outside the US that I think could.

While I'm on the subject of not appreciating the subtlty and atheletic ability of sports you aren't familiar with, I use to say that NFL offensive linemen could easily push around Sumo wrestlers. I assumed looking at them that they were just tubs of lard that relied only on thier size, much as rugby players feel about American football players. That was until I saw a top Sumo wrestler lift a 300 lb guy up to his shoulder and with the delicacy of a ballerina, while balancing only on the toes of one foot, neatly slam the guy out of the ring with a 'German Suplex' (I don't know what the move is called in Japanese) while gingerly taking care that no part of his body touched the ground before his opponent did.

Since them I've been careful not to assume that people who love a sport don't know what they are doing when they play it.
-by Celebrim

Baseball is and always will be "America's Sport" and the "American Past Time"

It's about history, tradition, Teamwork, legends, and beacher seats.

Until anyone can name just 10 great american soccer players, that game will be justfied in america as a good way to get excersize and a good way to get some zzzzzzz's
-by wino

There is only one true sport and it is called college football.

That is all.
-by President_Friedman

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Anonymous said...

I've been building a pet theory about the US over the past few years, and it goes something like this: the US is to international culture what the Galapagos Islands are to evolution. America is a place removed from the world's cultural ebb and flow and thus has preserved or developed its own cultural norms.

The US developed basketball, football, and baseball, sports that are enormously popular here but not so much elsewhere. Soccer, on the other hand, has a cult following everywhere but here. As well, the US, as opposed to most first world countries, is deeply conservative and religious (relatively speaking).

I would argue that it isn't a symptom of arrogance as much as it is simply one of distance: we Americans aren't nearly buffeted by the winds of international norms as, say, France is.

Christopher R Taylor said...

That is a good point, the isolation of the US makes it somewhat distinct from much of the rest of the world. Another thing I think that makes a big difference is the way that the founding philosophy of the US was so much different than even places like Canada. Not only was there a desire for liberty, but a recognition of the need for religion and virtue as a neccessary heart of a republic.

Unknown said...

Wow we really rook a turn from why people in the U S A like soccer and why they dont. I think it has nothing to do with religion or being more or less conservative then Europe. I firmly believe that alot of it has to do with the avg Americans attention span. As shown by the popularity of baseball falling and the rise of x-game sports and arena football. I also think we seem to lack a fundamental understanding of the word team and what that really means.