Why 'Some Americans' Don't Like Soccer (Part 2 of 4)

Homer SimpsonCorrespondent IAugust 25, 2010

Over the years, I've heard various reasons why "some Americans" don't like soccer. Here are my collective rebuttals to some of the arguments.

Note: I'm only saying "some" and not generalising because I know many Americans do like soccer. And this article is in no way an underhand dig at America or its sports, of which I am also a fan. You can refer back to Part One of this article.

Many of the reasons why "some Americans" don't like soccer actually exist in their own US-based sports.

7) Skeptics say, "You don't use your hands, so it's not a proper sport. Opposable thumbs are what separates us from the apes, and soccer eliminates the use of one's hands."

This is a bit of a lame excuse. The USA has no problem supporting its track athletes during the Olympics and all they do is use their legs to run very fast.

So what’s the problem with soccer players doing the same?

The answer is there is no difference.

Also note that the ignorance of "soccer haters" isn't just limited to soccer when they claim that "opposable thumbs are what separates us from the apes;" all primates have opposable thumbs and even some other mammals and amphibians do. 

8) Skeptics say, "Other countries only like soccer because they don't have any other sports like football, baseball, basketball, or ice hockey."

Again, this idea stems from ignorance.

England, for example, has Rugby Union, Rugby League, cricket, tennis, and golf, as well as soccer. What has happened in England is that, over the decades, soccer has become more popular than all those sports put together.

You can pick any country in the world and see that they also watch and play other sports. And let’s not forget that wherever you are in the world satellite TV enables you to watch ANY sport. It's pure stupidity to think that the USA is the only country in the world with access to hundreds of sports channels.

So even with all these choices, the majority of the rest of the world still chooses soccer.

9) Skeptics say, "It's good for kids, but once they grow up they move onto American sports that pay better."

Sure, American football players get paid more than MLS players.

But the best-paid soccer players aren't on skid row.

David Beckham makes $50m/year. Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Kaka, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Emmanuel Adebeyor, and Yaya Toure (to name just a few) are all on a basic wage of around $15 to $20m/year before endorsements.

So, yes, you can make some serious money playing soccer.

And the growth potential of soccer means these figures will go up. The takeovers of EPL clubs by Americans show that they know soccer is still undervalued.

With mega-rich buyers coming into the EPL now (Man City are now owned by the Abu Dubai Group, who apparently sit on $1 trillion worth of oil), the money looks to be going up and up.

Who benefits? The players of course.

Soccer has a global market; US-based sports, due to expense and athletic discrimination, are limited to a few countries (if that) in the world.

Now you tell me which sport has the better growth potential?

10) Skeptics say, "The better team usually loses in soccer."

The chance of this happening in a one-off game is higher, but in soccer the better team usually wins.

Sometimes they don't.

But winning the statistics battle shouldn't—and sometimes doesn't—mean you win the game in soccer.

In the NFL on any given Sunday, there are several teams who are outgained on offense, outplayed on defense, but catch a few lucky breaks and win the game. So it happens in American sports as well. If a team that won the statistics battle always won the game, that would make for a boring sport.

"In uncertainty lies the drama of life," so said a certain Frenchman. 

11) Skeptics say, "Soccer invented hooliganism."

Sure, soccer has its bad element, but then so does any American sport.

No matter how many college games end in drunken mob violence (as many do), and no matter how many American city centres see running battles between sports fans and riot police, certain contingents of US sports media continue to present hooliganism as something utterly un-American.

There are riots in the streets after a championship comes to a town in any sport.

Looting, burning cars, terrorising women and ripping their clothes off as part of the ceremony seems to have reached obscene levels.

In 1998, Denver Broncos fans rioted in the streets after their team won Super Bowl XXXII. Fans rioted and destroyed property after the Oakland Raiders lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII. Lakers fans stormed the streets of Los Angeles after the Lakers' victory over the Indiana Pacers in the 2000 NBA Finals. Boston Red Sox fans rioted just outside of Fenway Park after they won the Championship Series over the Yankees in 2004.

Also in 2004, a brawl erupted between Pacers players and Pistons supporters.

12) Skeptics say the game is boring.

Can some soccer games be boring?

Yes, some games can be dull, but then any sport can say this. Sometimes, you appreciate the better games more if you have endured the dull games as well.

Boxing can be dull, but sometimes you get contests that give you lots of knockdowns or a knockout. Other times, you get nothing apart from a match being stopped for a cut above the eye.

Good contests, bad contests; it's the same in soccer.

Soccer, as a sport, reflects life: the tedium, the highlights, the effort, the perseverance, the heartbreak, sometimes the great effort for no reward, the immense effort sometimes needed to actually score.

99.99999999 percent of people have many lows in their life and a few highs. You can remember the best parts of your life, right?

Why? Because you have had to endure the many lows, the highs seem so much sweeter. A sport that gives you permanent highs becomes boring after awhile.

As a rule, permanent highs don't exist in sports, which is why America created pro wrestling. There, the contests are acted, staged, and fixed to give continuous action to those who want it.

But of course, these are just acted-out fight sequences; there is no "theatre" or "drama" in it at all.

Regarding the NFL, there are about 12 minutes of action in a three hour game, interrupted by endless commercials for Burger King, Budweiser, or a middle-aged couple who might or might not be in the mood for Viagra.

That must say something about Americans: they willingly spend time and money watching millionaire athletes do nothing.

Now that must be boring.

And the TV networks just love this status quo, as they can pummel their audience with advertisements for a huge length of time. NBA games that end 110-105 are pointless until the last two minutes. Lots of scoring, but they can be boring as hell.

13) Skeptics say, "Soccer players are not athletic enough and do not possess athleticism that American sports fans crave."

Sceptics argue that, whereas soccer is a sport of skill, if the players were athletic enough it would easily draw an American interest. Reggie Bush, for example, has 4.2 speed, and a 43-inch vertical leap.

Now, soccer requires a multitude of skills (e.g. speed, passing, control, technique, shooting, strength, heading, dribbling, tackling). But because of the nature of the game, some players have some of these attributes, whilst others have different ones.

Those players that have all of these skills are usually the best in the world.

Some soccer players are fast: in his prime, Theirry Henry could run the 100M in less than 11 seconds. When Theo Walcott signed for Arsenal, he beat Henry's club record which had stood for years. There are literally hundreds of other players (Ronaldo, Messi, Marc Overmars, Arjen Robben) who are or were just as fast.

Also, some top players run 16 kilometres on average in a 90-minute game, so endurance is a big factor. With only one halftime break, there is little recovery time.

A NFL running back, wide receiver or defensive back may be quicker, but with the stop-start nature of football, they get a rest almost every 30 seconds.

Soccer players are, in general, fitter than most. Their body fat percentage is incredibly low, between four and eight percent. You can't say that for some "athletes" in the NFL. And the weight issues of MLB players have been mentioned countless times for a justifiable reason.

So lack of athleticism is an invalid excuse.

Continue to points 14 to 20 of this article.

Please keep comments between bloggers polite & respectful!


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