August 01, 2004

Why America hates football: The best-selling author of The Meaning of Sport explains

posted by Pete to soccer at 03:34 AM - 18 comments

Makes sense to me except that I think, over time, real football will claim more of the fanspace.

posted by billsaysthis at 03:03 PM on August 01

I think, over time, real football will claim more of the fanspace Problem there is, to probably 90% of America, "real football" is already the #1 sport in the country, both NFL and NCAA. Not necessarily their favorite, just acknowledged as the most popular sport in the land. I think the article misses a major point. America is not among the best at it. We are not a small nation to whom just making the World Cup is a big deal, call us when we win it. And you better stay up among the elite, as our attention span doesn't abide losing. Why watch MLS when you know that if any of these guys were really any good they would be playing in Europe or South America or wherever. This is especially so in the larger cities represented by not just three or four of the major sports mentioned in the article but also many of the minor sports (NASCAR - which is probably no longer "minor", Arena League, Minor League baseball, major colleges, other auto-racing, WNBA, etc.) that soccer will actually need to compete with to gain a foothold. The mere fact it will never be called football in this country doesn't help either. Also, as much as everyone seems to like the workarounds, I would still wager big network execs aren't thrilled with the no commercial breaks aspect of putting on soccer games. Only viable adspace to be had is on the players, and ads on uniforms doesn't seem to go over well here. Without a real push from the networks to get it going, it will also be tough to sell to the country.

posted by pivo at 06:21 PM on August 01

Seriously, I don't have the time it takes to learn new players, teams and history. I'm booked up. Between MLB, NFL, NCAA Football, baseball, hoops, and the PGA, I already qualify as a shut-in. And I am one of a few Americans who actually went to Euro 2004 this year. I had a blast but I am at my saturation point.

posted by usfbull at 09:45 PM on August 01

The number one reason that Americans tell me they don't like it is because of the low scoring...well there ya go dumbass...don't watch it then. If you can't understand that scoring a goal is rare and therefore exciting beyond any touchdown or basket...there is no help for you. Second reason is, its boring...again, i have had it with that shit too. If you can watch a baseball player scratch his balls, adjust his hat, adjust his sleeves, hit his shoes with his bat, adjust his crotch again only to have a new pitcher come in and get warmed up for 10 minutes before anything happens...well you got problems. And you probably should KEEP watching baseball. And if you like timeouts and commercials, then basketball and Helmet football is for you too. Each American football and basketball game is 60 minutes...yet they last 3 hours or more. Sounds fucking exciting to me! I don't care to convince any of my friends or acquaintances anymore about Football. It is the best sport in the world and the most exciting. If they can't see it or understand, i don't even bother to talk to them. There are plenty of people here in the US that DO like it, play it, watch it, understand it, live it...and as long as i can watch the European Leagues i'm happy.

posted by StarFucker at 01:01 AM on August 02

I agree. Who cares if professional soccer never flourishes in the United States? In fact, if MLS is any indication of the character of US soccer, I hope it never succeeds. As long as they keep showing top UK/European matches on American TV, most of us will be happy.

posted by molafson at 04:10 AM on August 02

it is the best sport in the world and the most exciting. You've obviously never seen the Villa play under John Gregory. zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

posted by BigCalm at 04:16 AM on August 02

I'm sick of these mournful "America just doesn't get it" articles about football - as though the game somehow lacks validation because of that. I wish someone would write one highlighting the fact that the longer America keeps its grubby little sensationalistic money-grabbing paws off the beautiful game, the better!

posted by JJ at 04:38 AM on August 02

Yeah! Because there is no sensationalism or money-grubbing in any other leagues around the world! Puh-lease.

posted by pivo at 05:04 AM on August 02

Americans (North Americans actually) prefer hockey, which is basically the same game except much better.

posted by dzot at 08:46 AM on August 02

Yeah, football is the most pristine, purest distillation of the human character in the sporting universe. It is ludicrous to be snobbish about the superiority of any sport over another. That kind of jingoism merely stops you from enjoying the pure sublime greatness of the truly endless array of sporting disciplines that are out there to color your cultural palate. Especially hockey.

posted by chicobangs at 09:01 AM on August 02

In the United States, the only way to see the Greece-Portugal final, or any other match in the tournament, was to make a special, costly arrangement with a satellite broadcasting company or to find a pub that was showing one of the games. Any such pub would invariably be located in an obscure corner of a large city and filled with people speaking languages other than English. And we have the Irish broadcaster Setanta to thank for that screwing. Leading in with such a loaded perspective, the article doesn't get much better. How about this? We have a bunch of sports that have been around for a while, there's only so much time in the day, and without TV coverage it's hard to generate interest in new sports (even ones that kids are growing up playing), furthermore when it comes to international events, we only care if we can win (see the Olympics or WC2000). I don't think it's hopeless though. Given the number of kids that play football and the growing availability of cable/satellite TV coverage of Euro/SA football, the popularity of the sport will only grow in the States.

posted by kokaku at 10:52 AM on August 02

Why football will become more popular than American football. In some respects, it already is.

posted by rocketman at 12:24 PM on August 02

Was Euro 2004 big in the parts of the world that worship football but aren't in Europe?

posted by Smackfu at 12:39 PM on August 02

I was in Malaysia during Euro 2004 and they were obsessed with it. Major coverage in all the press, live on TV and a party during the final (at about 3 in the morning). I was in Thailand during WC2002 and that was similar.

posted by Pete at 01:59 PM on August 02

Second reason is, its boring...again, i have had it with that shit too. If you can watch a baseball player scratch his balls, adjust his hat, adjust his sleeves, hit his shoes with his bat, adjust his crotch again only to have a new pitcher come in and get warmed up for 10 minutes before anything happens...well you got problems. And you probably should KEEP watching baseball. This is so true and completely mystifying to me. Even if goals are rather rare, at least the ball is almost always moving. And I'm not sure how rare the scoring is--a 3-2 result is fairly similar to 17-14 or 17-10 in NFL terms, three scores to two if you see what I mean. How many scoreless draws are there in an EPL/Primera Liga season anyway?

posted by billsaysthis at 02:23 PM on August 02

a 3-2 result is fairly similar to 17-14 or 17-10 in NFL terms But the NFL has a higher-scoring game! Can't you understand?

posted by rocketman at 02:44 PM on August 02

In Canada all the Euro 2004 games were shown on TV. In general, we get more soccer on regular TV than the US. However, for some reason the Old Firm matches (yawn) are shown only in pubs. And off the top of my head, I don't think Spanish Premiera Liga matches are available.

posted by molafson at 03:03 PM on August 02

>And off the top of my head, I don't think Spanish Premiera Liga matches are available.Rogers Sportsnet was showing a few Spanish league games as teasers to buy the Fox SPorts World package. But yes, there's a lot of football televised here: EPL, Italian Serie A, the French league, Uefa Champions League. >Helmet football I like that. Helmet football.

posted by Philfromhavelock at 11:22 PM on August 02

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