Sorry, I’m Still Bored By Soccer


If God had wanted man to play soccer, he wouldn’t have given us arms. ~Mike Ditka

This one still perplexes me. It’s like a Zen koan. Why the hell, if I can sit riveted to a baseball game, even on the radio, for two or more hours at a time, can I still not embrace soccer? I don’t chalk it up to my American jingoism…I’m one of the more worldly Americans you’re likely to meet, and I spent 5 years living in soccer-crazy Germany. It’s not a lack of appreciation for the sport, either. Like many Gen X’ers, I spent an obligatory few years playing the Beautiful Game, though I spent more time chasing butterflies than goals. I have nothing but respect for the players, male or female. It takes one tough hombre (or chiquita) to play soccer.

So what’s the problem?

The theory is covered well in Franklin Foer’s How Soccer Explains the World, so I won’t rehash his arguments. I’m sticking to what I think this time, so please don’t assume I speak for every American. I’m just speaking from the point of view of one average American woman (well, maybe slightly abnormal.)

First of all, soccer doesn’t have enough action to sustain me for 2 1/2 hours of my life. Call it the Michael Bay effect if you like, or that unique American diagnosis of ADD. I appreciate the strategy of soccer, the endurance it requires, the pure intellectualism. I feel the exact same way about chess. But guess what? Chess is pretty damn boring on TV. One could make the same argument about hockey or baseball, where 2-1 scores are commonplace and often there are stretches without action. However, I usually like to listen to the commentary. Soccer commentary is about as interesting as watching paint dry.

There’s also the peculiar issue of whether soccer is patriotic for Americans. Before you guys get all riled up at me as being ultra-American or anti-American, I always pull for the USA no matter what sport. I watched the men’s World Cup last year and this year I was cheering for the women’s squad. Ditto for the Olympics and hell, even the CONCACAF Gold Cup. It’s good for our country when we win. I still can’t really figure out why Americans haven’t fully embraced soccer. A large number of American kids play but usually don’t watch as adults. If I had to guess, it’s the same reason most Americans don’t dig pierogies or ska music or doing the waltz. It’s because those things weren’t invented in the USA either.

I think they meant soccer...

Last but certainly not least, soccer is my dimmest light in a whole galaxy of sports choices. This isn’t true in most other countries; in fact, soccer is the ONLY sport in some parts of the world. When I lived in Germany, many Germans were equally obsessed with tennis or equestrian sports, but soccer was king. There’s also no ESPN or buffet of cable channels in Germany (or at least there weren’t when I lived there.) Given the choice most Americans have, they’re gonna pick the Michael Bay movie over the latest dramatic import from Sweden or Nigeria. Unfortunately true.

Like I said, I’m not like a lot of Americans (for one thing, I like pierogies.) I want soccer to succeed in the US the way baseball and football has, and I think it will with the expanding global marketplace and an influx of immigrants. But it never will be king. At least not for another hundred years or so. As for me, with the NFL and NBA lockouts still in place, I’m sticking to post-steroid baseball for now. Even on the radio it’s still more intriguing than soccer.

That being said, congrats to the women’s team for their runner-up performance. You guys did great. I didn’t watch a minute of it, but you did great.

Got comments or questions? Send ’em my way! Enjoyed this post? Click “Like” and subscribe to P&Q!

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on July 18, 2011.

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