Jun
26
2014

Should America be doing more to fake an interest in soccer?

This is not me mocking the game, per se – it’s just that we’re apparently doing fairly well in the World Cup, so far, and eventually we might actually win one. If and when we do, we should give serious consideration to figuring out how to pretend that America actually cares as much about this accomplishment as the rest of the planet apparently does. Because it’s going to severely annoy every other country in the world if we shrug it off; including the countries we actually like. A little judicious hypocrisy wouldn’t hurt, here.

Just a thought.

Moe Lane

PS: At the very least: if we ever do win a World Cup we should probably agree among ourselves to not needle the rest of the planet (like we do, cheerfully) by calling it ‘soccer.’  At least for a few days. A week, at the most.

50 Comments

  • Jeffstag says:

    Meh, I don’t know why it’s not watched here really. You could say its boring, but people watch golf on tv in large numbers. You could say its because its not played at the High school level, but volleyball is big in high school and no one watches that (not counting beach volleyball, but there are….other factors at work there). I’m not sure if I can say the hockey is or isn’t big at the high school age, I think that’s very regional.

    • Erin Palette says:

      As one of my Facebook friends said, “Why the US will never truly embrace futball? Because “It’s an exciting 0-0 game” makes absolutely no sense in American.”

  • Aruges says:

    Eh. I like the idea of us causally winning their little game and then blowing it off like it ain’t no thing. I also like the idea of just letting the rest of the world beat us at their little game that we don’t care about.

    If we ever do win the thing, I say we just hire some PR firms to run celebration campaigns everywhere in the world, except the US.

  • BigGator5 says:

    What is this “Soccer” and “World Cup” that you speak of? I do not understand.

  • dan.irving says:

    There is something to be said about letting everyone else win at /something/.

  • Jeffstag says:

    Wait, I’ve got it. Immigration, open borders…it all makes sense now. Big Soccer is behind this to change our demographics and make the sport popular here !

  • Spegen says:

    I thought the whole purpose of the World Cup was to make the rest of the world feel good at beating USA at something?
    On the flip side, having the coach or a player calling it soccer during the victory speech would be priceless.

    • Dave R says:

      Can’t beat us if we aren’t there; we didn’t even qualify for a 30-year or so period between the 50s and the 80s. Team USA these days is a pretty solid second-tier team.

  • LiberExMachina says:

    Soccer should be treated just like any other professional sport one does not care about: basically ignore it unless the local team hits the playoffs, then feign interest as we listen to the crazies (in this case, commie hipsters) ramble on about it and halfheartedly go “rah local sporting team”.

    Let me know when/if Team USA moves on pass the round-robins.

    But, then again, some sections of the blogosphere convinced me that soccer is a sport only for evil socialists, so supporting it in any way only helps the other side…

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/06/soccer_the_perfect_socialist_s.html

    • DemosthenesVW says:

      Some of us are soccer fans, and are neither commies nor hipsters. If you don’tcare about it, that’s cool, but don’t lump me in with the people you cordially despise.

      • LiberExMachina says:

        Sorry if you were offended. There are exceptions to every rule (and, to be fair, I probably should have included immigrants, people who still have stronger ties to their “old country” than to America, and people who learned to like soccer by playing it as a kid in the stereotypical “I like soccer” fanbase). You may not fit in any of those categories either.

    • RangerSG says:

      You know, articles like that one are why I think the people at American Thinker don’t.

      You don’t like a sport, fine. But I’ll clue you in on something: Calling soccer socialist while the NFL sits on a government-enforced, public-financed, crony-capitalist, oligarchy that would make Swedish Socialists proud, with enforced wage caps and restrictions on player movement, is simply laughable.

      Soccer in Europe is the last bastion of unfettered capitalism. And that happens to be a big part of why the most successful leagues are there.

      And American Football didn’t originate here either. It’s rugby with more pads and a forward pass. Just as British as baseball.

      • LiberExMachina says:

        My argument was based on the rules of soccer, not how the leagues are run, but fair point about the NFL.

        Yup, Football is modified rugby (arguably for the worse); basesball is modified cricket. Capitalism did not originate in America either. We like stealing ideas and making them our own. Mayhaps modifying soccer to better match rugby (get rid of offsides, introduce real tackling, punish floppers, stop the clock when play is not happening and start the clock again with a scrum) would make it tolerable.

        • RangerSG says:

          Tolerable to who? Again, MLS already outdraws pretty much every sport but the NFL in every location it has a franchise. So really, what does it have to ‘improve’ to draw fans?

          The idea that we need to change the rules to “Americanize” the game–and thus make ourselves less competitive internationally, btw–doesn’t pass either the smell or statistical tests. It smacks of concern trolling.

          I don’t care if soccer gets as big as American football. MLS is an established, growing league doing quite well, thank you. And the World Cup is hardly lacking for an audience either.

          So what, pray tell, *needs* to change, and for whom?

          As for punishing flopping. This is another meme that needs to confront the truth: Flopping is in every sport. Yea, even the NFL. Every time a Wide Receiver gets chucked illegally, he exaggerates the call to get the flag. Every time a kicker or QB is hit late, he goes down like he was shot to try to get a roughing call. Linemen get held rushing the passer? They twist and start to fall to call attention to the hold, because everyone in the stadium knows holding could be called Every. Single. Play.

          So yeah. Flopping is in every sport.

  • CWC says:

    IMO, modern soccer sucks as a spectator sport because so few goals are scored per match. Draws are common; many wins come through luck. In my limited understanding, soccer used to be a much higher-scoring game, until the development of better (but boring-to-watch) defensive tactics in the decades after WW2. So whenever I watch soccer (not often), I spend more time trying to dream up minimal changes to the rules/equipment to make the game much higher-scoring. My current favorite is to move the crossbars up 1 meter.

    • Luke says:

      Get rid of the stupid offsides penalty. Or change it to model on hockey–the ball must cross the line before any offensive player.
      Not being allowed to outrun your slower opponent is right up there with “not being able to use your hands” as things I find offensive about soccer.

      • Spegen says:

        Offsides is the biggest culprit, defenses actively cause offsides just to stop the offense

      • DemosthenesVW says:

        You are allowed to outrun your opponent. Offsides means you can’t already be behind them before someone passes you the ball. It was made a rule to prevent each team from stationing a couple players right near the opponent’s goal, hoping to snag an easy score on a long pass.

  • Luke says:

    Nope.
    Backwards people in backwards countries can like whatever they want. Most anything that lets them forget their misery for a while is fine in my book. That doesn’t obligate me to participate or share their proclivities.
    The same with my countrymen. A small fraction like soccer. A larger fraction likes tennis, golf, or bowling. I can easily find more entertaining things to do than watch any of them on television, up to and including bathing the cat.
    .
    Here’s the thing, the appeal of a sport necessarily ties into a cultural narrative for its appeal. For instance, Baseball (to us) is one man, standing against the world, and swinging. (The Japanese and Latin American countries have slightly different narratives it ties into.)
    Soccer’s narrative largely seems to be arbitrary rules, arbitrarily enforced, with a hefty dose of Procrustes’ bed thrown in for good measure. While I can understand how this can resonate with most people in the world who are forced to live under such systems, we don’t. At least, we don’t yet. And I pray we never do.

    • Luke says:

      Needless to say, I find soccer’s narrative to be repulsive.
      And take offense when I’m told I must appreciate it.

    • Darin_H says:

      Small fraction?

      Sunday’s World Cup match between the U.S. and Portugal averaged a record-setting total of 24.7 million viewers across two television networks, including 18.2 million spectators on ESPN. It shattered the previous record for the highest-rated World Cup contest – the 1999 Women’s final between the U.S. and China – which attracted 17.9 million eyeballs.

      According to the New York Times, ratings trounced the NBA Finals and World Series, as those two events averaged 15.5 million and 14.9 million viewers this year, respectively.

      And the NHL? Please. The Stanley Cup Finals only averaged 5 million onlookers.

      You don’t have to watch, and you certainly don’t have to care. But soccer is relatively popular.

      • Crawford says:

        It wouldn’t be so popular if we had control of the borders.

      • DemosthenesVW says:

        Don’t bother, Darin. Luke is bound and determined to take pride in the fact that he knows nothing about soccer.

      • Luke says:

        I’m willing to accept at face value your assertion that less than 1% of the population watched the World Cup. (BTW, that’s a very small fraction.)
        That said, the argument that roughly only 1 out of 200 watched the NBA finals or World Series is an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary proof.

        • Darin_H says:

          http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/24/business/media/bigger-than-baseball-us-portugal-world-cup-match-outdoes-world-series-in-ratings.html?_r=0
          .
          (yes I know, linking the ny times…)
          .
          The problem is your attitude. You don’t like soccer.
          .
          GREAT.
          .
          Don’t watch it.
          .
          But you don’t get to say whether other people should watch and for what reasons. Otherwise you come off the same as the stupid hipsters who talk about ‘futbol’

          • ChrisValentine says:

            Notice that the article specifically states that it beat the *averages* for those finals. Finals which are composed of 7 game series.

            Its pointless to compare one game to 7 games, there’s too many different variables. The only worthwhile comparison is American Football, since there are no series.

          • Luke says:

            The claim that soccer is more popular than baseball or basketball remains extraordinary. The evidence supporting the claim has been weak.
            .
            ChrisValentine already hit the absurdity of comparing the average of a 7 game series to a single game.
            TV ratings are generated via statistical analysis, based on a self-selected sample.
            When you’re doing that and get a result that flies in the face of expectations, the first thing to do is to question whether or not the sample is actually representative of the larger population. Bad samples are common. Especially when your sample is self-selected, and the underlying qualification is “must watch a lot of television”.

    • Jeffstag says:

      I don’t buy your ‘narrative’ argument. Hockey is popular here and if you stand back and squint its essentially soccer on ice. It has the same narrative drive. Basketball is another example of a team sport where there need not be any ‘star’ players but merely interchangeable players with seemingly arbitrary rules.

      Soccer hasn’t caught on big just because it hasn’t. There’s no great national story to tell or overreaching narrative here. Public tastes in things are hard to predict and can be much more arbitrary than the rules of any game.

      Consider this. It’s possible to win the overall NASCAR championship without ever winning a race. What’s more un-American than that?

      Basically its just a game. It’s not crypto-communism or collective mind control from Brazil. Get over it.

      • midwestconservative says:

        Basketball can have star players ( Jordan, Bird, Magic?)
        It also has far greater points scored.

        Hockey while low scoring allows people to hit each other.

        • Jeffstag says:

          I said there ‘need not’ be star players. You can have a perfectly serviceable team without one. Also, soccer had a biting incident the other day. You could say its boring to watch but I counter by saying “televised golf”.
          The point is that it has enough similarities to games already popular here that there’s no particular reason why it isn’t popular itself. It’s just a game with no deeper meaning that has not captured the American imagination through no fault of its own. No reason to get upset or defiant about it either way.

      • Luke says:

        You’d have to squint awfully hard. Hockey is rugby, played with clubs, while wearing razor blades on your feet, using a “ball” that can and does shatter bone.
        .
        It is “just a game”. Tell that to the peope who keep telling me that I need to care about it.

        • Darin_H says:

          That’s just it, NO ONE is telling you to care about soccer. Just don’t be an ***.

          • Luke says:

            I beg to differ.
            I’ve been told that I must start caring about soccer since before Pele moved to the US.
            .
            If this hadn’t been the case, my dislike of soccer would be no more intense than my dislike of tennis.

  • Finrod says:

    Heck, they get annoyed when I call it ‘metric football’.

  • acat says:

    Clearly, what’s needed is a requirement for each NFL team to host a soccer team at their stadium, and require each NFL fan who buys a ticket to also buy a ticket to see the soccer team…
    .
    Mew

    • nicklevi86 says:

      New England Patriots already own a soccer team that plays at The Big Razor. The second New York team is part owned by the Yankees. I’m sure package deals are in the works.

  • nicklevi86 says:

    I hold that a citizen can enjoy what he pleases without being called into question. The trolls are just as obnoxious as the hipsters. I haven’t seen hatred this defined since Bush was still in office.* Let. It. Go.

    *not just BDS. I lived in northern Indiana sandwiched between Michigan and OSU fanatics. Oy.

  • nighttwister says:

    I watched a little. It’s still professional diving. Until they add a penalty like they did in hockey for intentionally trying to draw a foul, it will always be this way.

    • Darin_H says:

      I wish they’d have some stricter after game reviews of diving. Amazingly, they have cracked down on it massively, and it’s gotten better over the last few years (though Italy loves to flop still).

  • Spegen says:

    I think this thread proves we care enough about soccer to make it one of the longer comment threads in recent memory. In more important news the World Cup is effecting our foreign policy

    • Moe_Lane says:

      Indeed. I am torn between not writing more posts that get valued readers riled up at each other, and… writing more posts that get valued readers riled up at each other. 🙂

  • RangerSG says:

    You don’t like soccer, fine. I love it.

    But let’s note this: The World Cup *IS* a big deal to the American viewership audience. The USMNT vs Portugal match trumped ESPN’s viewership for anything that isn’t NFL. And if you add in Univision’s audience (which isn’t just Hispanic, because honestly, they do better coverage than ESPN), it stomped the average NFL prime-time game.

    Yeah, it matters.

    The idea that soccer isn’t drawing OUTSIDE the World Cup is also very…1980ish. Seattle, Portland and Kansas City all routinely sell out and outsell any other sport in the city not named “NFL.” Yes, the Sounders outdraw the Mariners, and Sporting KC outdraws the Royals…despite SKC playing in a smaller facility. MLS attendance per game outdraws the NBA per game. And the facilities are generally comparable in size.

    So yeah, the 80s can take this meme and bury it alongside the idea that only lefties like the sport. I don’t make people like soccer. But I don’t need it spat on by people who think making left turns all afternoon is an athletic activity…or spoiling perfectly good walks with an ill-formed cane swinging at a much smaller ball.

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