June 12, 2002

I love one of Neel's early lines: "Who cares when or whether soccer will ever become popular in the United States?"

That would basically sum up the attitude of most pro-soccer Americans. Which brings me to a point of perturbation: Most of the anti-soccer columns and blogs I've seen over the last few weeks start with some variation of this premise: "I'm sick of these people trying to shove soccer down our throats, and complaining that America is backwards because it doesn't accept the game like the rest of the world."

It's an odd premise because that scenario doesn't exist. Where has been this clamor that "America is backwards"? Who's been trying to shove the game down Americans' throats? That's a friggin straw man.

Oh, maybe that angle was bandied about in the '70s, when pro soccer was trying to get off the ground here. And maybe to some extent in '94, when the World Cup was hosted here. But for heaven's sake, I haven't read a single commentator lately -- and I read a shitload of soccer stuff -- who's complained about the game's (lack of) popularity in America. Yet the anti-soccerites continue to lash "back" when they haven't been lashed "at" to begin with.

To those who don't like the game: Fine. And feel free to elucidate why. But no one has demanded that you like it. That part of your argument is fallacious.

If someone can dig up a column, written in the last year, that criticizes Americans for not "getting" soccer, I'd like to see it.

Posted by: The Mad Commenter at June 13, 2002 08:39 AM

Well, Andrew Sullivan wrote one a couple weeks ago.

The local sports columnist for my cities local paper whines about US sports fans not liking soccer in his forum on the paper's website.

He then writes an article in which he claims he's not preaching, but basicaly whines about US sports fans not liking it.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/sports/columns.nsf/Bernie+Miklasz/ACB6051B04DAF87986256BD0005BC2D4?OpenDocument&highlight=2%2CWorld%2CCup%2CSoccer?opendocument&headline=Bernie+Miklasz+%3A+Victories+will+do+the+most+to+boost+soccer+in+the+U.S.

I think he recently said in his forum that if you didn't enjoy the US-Korea match, you weren't trying hard enough to like it. (He's the top sports columnist in St. Louis, and is on radio & TV a lot as well).

And you seem to be complaining about it.

Posted by: Jeremy at June 13, 2002 11:33 AM

Thanks Matt for the link to that fine little piece.

My reading coverage of the cup has been spotty up til now (two weeks out of town with meetings and the til-yesterday more important impending beautiful victory of the Lakers distracting me), but I did run across a bunch of blogs and other pieces from an American perspective which seemed to be generating a stream of idiocy regarding the cup and it's nice to see a counterweight.

As the Mad Commentator rightly puts it, anyone is freely entitled to not like soccer. Great. But there's no mass movement by those of us who are fans in cohoots with every other country in the world to force you to like it and it's lame and tired when a bunch of anti-socceristas react so disproportionately to a perceived challenge that doesn't exist. Those of us who are fans seem to be quite satisfied for the most part with how things are and quite frankly most of us couldn't be bothered in the least with converting those Americans who don't share our enthusiasm.

Don't like it? Don't tune in. It's simple.

Lakers!

Posted by: pk at June 13, 2002 11:37 AM

Jeremy: The Bernie Miklasz column to which you linked doesn't chide Americans for not liking soccer. In fact, about all it does is the same thing so many others do: alludes to this alleged "haggling" between supporters and non-supporters and calls the supporters "missionaries."

Again, this "haggling" is fiction, and I'd love to know where these mysterious missionaries are.

As for your observation that I seem to be "complaining about" soccer's lack of popularity: All I'm complaining about is the false premise upon which so many anti-soccer tirades are based -- this idea that soccer supporters go around scolding Americans for not liking soccer. IT IS A STRAW MAN. SUCH SCOLDING HARDLY EXISTS. IT CERTAINLY DOES NOT EXIST TO THE DEGREE SO MANY SOCCER BASHERS LIKE TO PRETEND.

Those of us who like soccer are satisfied by liking soccer. Most of us couldn't care less whether you or anyone else joins us.

Posted by: The Mad Commenter at June 13, 2002 12:05 PM

I'm happy to scold: People who can't appreciate soccer have small imaginations and are probably lousy in bed.

> Most of us couldn't care less whether you or anyone else joins us.

Not true. The last thing I want is for soccer to become as popular as, say, basketball, where an average ticket runs $48 because, thanks to its popularity, that's what the market will bear. And I shudder at the thought of going to a soccer game and having to wait in line for beer.

U-S-A!

Posted by: Young Luke at June 13, 2002 03:36 PM

As a lifelong soccer player, I have run into many, many people who try to preach the benefits to the masses. I personally don't care if anyone else likes to watch it on tv. I know it can be tedious, especially for people who have never played.

But there are sooooo many kids out there playing now, and so many my age (22) who have grown-up playing. The overall popularity in the US is bound to increase.

Football is an ultra-contact sport. Basketball is fast and has lots of showy scoring. Soccer can be a very, very beautiful game to watch. I personally watch it every chance I get. But I also love football and basketball for the reasons mentioned above.

I don't like baseball for a number of reasons. I wouldn't want some baseball fan to lecture me about how I'm just not refined enough to enjoy the game. I have definitely heard that from soccer people.

Posted by: Jackson Cooper at June 13, 2002 03:58 PM

Football.

Football.

Football.

I'm a european who grew up in the states playing football. I hate to say it, but soccer is not the name of the game. nor is it european football. just plain Football.

I played varsity Football in high school (both versions) and in Football you put the foot on the ball. in football (the other one), you throw and catch.. - and occaisionnaly punt.

Enough complaining.. I spent nearly 12 years playing Footbal in the USA. It has a HUGE following at junior and college level. Why not at professional level? Befcause the very money hungry medias can't fit in an ADVERTISMENT every 10 to 15 minutes (or more).

I have been watching the World Cup avidly since the 31 may.. (over here play is at 8:30/11:00/13:30 - work suffers not sleep :)

I loved the USA-Portugal game. The USA showed that Football lives strong over there! And all the better. Portugal are historicly a great team. But they just didn't expect to have to PLAY FOOTBALL with the USA. Now there out (as are France (désolé Manu - tu as au moins une autre équipe à suivre! ;), Argentina and Croatia (3rd place in 1998 behind France and Brazil)

The fact that the games are at 3 in the morning in the US suits the medias! no lost advertisment time! So profit from it and watch as many games as you can!! maybe those with the money to make Football a mainstream sport in the US will take notic once they see the audience levels even a 3 in the morning!

In any case.. good night and enjoy the game!

a+
ajm

Posted by: ajm at June 14, 2002 03:14 PM
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ds out there playing now, and so many my age (22) who have grown-up playing. The overall popularity in the US is bound to increase.

Football is an ultra-contact sport. Basketball is fast and has lots of showy scoring. Soccer can be a very, very beautiful game to watch. I personally watch it every chance I get. But I also love football and basketball for the reasons mentioned above.

I don't like baseball for a number of reasons. I wouldn't want some baseball fan to lecture me about how I'm just not refined enough to enjoy the game. I have definitely heard that from soccer people.

Posted by: Jackson Cooper at June 13, 2002 03:58 PM

Football.

Football.

Football.

I'm a european who grew up in the states playing football. I hate to say it, but soccer is not the name of the game. nor is it european football. just plain Football.

I played varsity Football in high school (both versions) and in Football you put the foot on the ball. in football (the other one), you throw and catch.. - and occaisionnaly punt.

Enough complaining.. I spent nearly 12 years playing Footbal in the USA. It has a HUGE following at junior and college level. Why not at professional level? Befcause the very money hungry medias can't fit in an ADVERTISMENT every 10 to 15 minutes (or more).

I have been watching the World Cup avidly since the 31 may.. (over here play is at 8:30/11:00/13:30 - work suffers not sleep :)

I loved the USA-Portugal game. The USA showed that Football lives strong over there! And all the better. Portugal are historicly a great team. But they just didn't expect to have to PLAY FOOTBALL with the USA. Now there out (as are France (désolé Manu - tu as au moins une autre équipe à suivre! ;), Argentina and Croatia (3rd place in 1998 behind France and Brazil)

The fact that the games are at 3 in the morning in the US suits the medias! no lost advertisment time! So profit from it and watch as many games as you can!! maybe those with the money to make Football a mainstream sport in the US will take notic once they see the audience levels even a 3 in the morning!

In any case.. good night and enjoy the game!

a+
ajm

Posted by: ajm at June 14, 2002 03:14 PM
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