FanDuel - WFBC

January 17, 2008

Soccer Is As American As Apple Pie: The Guardian's Jeff Wells responds to some false assumptions about The Beautiful Game in the USA.

posted by owlhouse to culture at 10:07 PM - 81 comments

I realise, of course, that I am asking for trouble...

posted by owlhouse at 10:21 PM on January 17

The title of this story is obviously wrong that everyone knows it. Everyone else in the world likes (football), not soccer because that word makes the sport sound soft. Soccer right now is being forced on America with David Beckham and everything. The only way that Americans will ever like soccer is if actual soccer superstars in their prime came to the US. Americans like sports that are high scoring for the most part basketball, gridiron football although hockey and baseball are low scoring for the most part. And no people who play soccer are not gay, what about football players like quarterbacks and running backs who look at the offensive blockers behinds. Which soccer player has come out of the closet saying he was gay? Wasn't the guy in the NBA Amaechi or something like that gay or that Hawaiian dude in the NFL? I'm not saying I hate gays, just stating facts. Soccer is a very tough sport for the most part. You have to do a lot of running and there is only a halftime break and no commercial breaks before that, just when the game is over. I love mostly all sports, they all have good and bad sides. I'm trying to answer as logically as I can.

posted by Scars at 10:44 PM on January 17

Soccer is a slow, boring, low-scoring, meaningless, super-sucky pseudo-sport played exclusively by lesbians, small children and homosexual Nazi psychopaths with bad haircuts. And terrorists. Children who play soccer all grow up to be "asshole incompetents" and "knock-kneed milksops" and "flopping on the ground, writhing-in-pain homos". Soccer is being forced on the American people by the sinister "global elite" secret world government. Soccer, in short, "sucks bat-shit off cave walls". And did we mention that it's gay? I could not in a million years said it better. May soccer live forever (other than the U.S.)

posted by Nakeman at 10:45 PM on January 17

What's goin on Nakeman, that is a funny ass story no doubt but people can say any kind of sport is "gay" if they don't like it.

posted by Scars at 10:59 PM on January 17

Rolls eyes. Checks watch. Nothing to see here but the usual, please move along.

posted by trox at 11:30 PM on January 17

You people... Always bad-mouthing soccer. If my high school would have had a soccer team, I would have probably played. (luckily they didn't so I played football instead)

posted by canstusdis at 12:20 AM on January 18

Soccer is a game that requires agility, balance, 180 degree vision, speed, smarts and a steely will. The game of soccer is an example of a basic form of non-lethal combat, where one group attempts to impose it's will on another group. The reason why there is not much scoring in soccer is that leagues are typically set up so that players are of equal ability. If someone wants to see high scoring, put a skilled team up against an unskilled one - many soccer parents often witness the result of such matchups during their kid's early soccer years. The US men's soccer squad is one of the highest ranked in the world, the women are either first or second in ranking (Germany can make a claim as #1 on the women's side). US soccer is doing ok and extremely talented players have migrated into the sport. During the recent past (10 years ago), only a couple members of the US team played in elite European leagues, now something approaching 1/2 - 2/3 the men's squad play in elite or second tier leagues across Europe. In addition, top tier players are playing in Major League Soccer. The next decade will see competition between the champion USA PRO team and the European championship team, or the champion of one of Europe's premier leagues. I am one that predicts that soccer will overtake baseball and/or basketball in popularity within the next 10-15 years. I do not see any reason why that prediction will not happen.

posted by Cave_Man at 12:27 AM on January 18

More... Soccer share similarities to football, except for tackling where a body is thrust into another body. A midfielder is a quarterback in soccer, that person attempts to locate situations where an attacker has broken down a defender, or can break down a defender. I played football and basketball in high school. I played soccer later in life and often watch kids play soccer now. Soccer is a more intensive game than basketball or football, it requires the stamina that constant fast breaking basketball teams possess and requires the explosiveness and field sense that creates offensive opportunities in basketball and football.

posted by Cave_Man at 12:37 AM on January 18

Cave-Man and Scars- I'll not dispute any remarks about skill or agility of your average soccer player. I've tried to watch soccer and was bored to shit. Soccer may be a great participation sport, but in my opinion, will never catch on as a spectator sport. I did not mean to demean the sport with first post, however I thought the writer went overboard with some of his rantings and just wanted to see them by themselves in the context of a post instead of the full article.

posted by Nakeman at 12:46 AM on January 18

Soccer may be a great participation sport, but in my opinion, will never catch on as a spectator sport Where have you been living? What? Oh.

posted by owlhouse at 12:54 AM on January 18

Where have you been living? What? Oh. In the U.S. owlhouse, the U.S.

posted by Nakeman at 02:09 AM on January 18

Soccer share similarities to football, except for tackling where a body is thrust into another body. So its football, but without those pesckie parts that make it fun? Great! Hey hows-a-bout if we start writing sitcoms, but leave out all the jokes! (after the writers come back, of course) or we can have porn, but not show any bresteses! (too far? ok, ill stop) Joking aside, im offering a forum for all the soccer appologists, and enthiseists (sorry guys im still having trouble with firefox) to make your case. Someone explain to me why i, as a football fanatic, as a passionate baseball fan, as a guy who pretty much starts the day looking for new sports headlines before i brush my teeth in the morning, why should i like soccer? convince me.

posted by elijahin24 at 04:59 AM on January 18

Why? Why does a sport watched by billions need to validate its existence to fans of a sport watched by millions? If you're actually asking, "What should I look at/ for so I can appreciate soccer?", that's great and there's a trove of threads in the archives answering that question. What really rekindled my interest was watching the World Cup through the eyes of our more seasoned members. Simply looking at final scores tells you nothing about a game.

posted by yerfatma at 06:01 AM on January 18

iI not talking about the millions, or validation. Im talking about me. Why should I watch it? What should i look for that i will enjoy? No sport needs to validate its existence to me, but i do need a selling point if im gonna sit infront of the tv and watch a bunch of guys run around for three hours and only score three times.

posted by elijahin24 at 06:29 AM on January 18

The best thing about that article is the first comment : "If Jim Rome fell into a massive pit of alligators, got chewed up, spit out survived, fell of a cliff onto a pile of broken glass and then got doused with copious amounts of lemon juice, I would have a party. "

posted by Mr Bismarck at 07:08 AM on January 18

i do need a selling point if im gonna sit infront of the tv and watch a bunch of guys run around for three hours and only score three times. This is silly. A 2-1 baseball game sounds like a pretty good pitchers' duel to me. A 14-7 NFL game sounds like an entertaining defensive struggle. Since when do you have to have tons of scoring to make a game entertaining? By that definition, basketball is WAY better than any other sport. I'm not a massive fan of the beautiful game although I try to keep tabs on the international contests, the top club teams and the MLS from time to time. But I always watch the World Cup, which I think could be the key to finally shutting the soccer-haters up once and for all. My extremely inexpert analysis indicates that while the US has developed some quality midfielders and goalkeepers, our strikers have been pretty subpar on the whole. It's my opinion that a great US striker could dramatically change the perception of the game in this country.

posted by Venicemenace at 07:39 AM on January 18

What do people see in soceer,I just can't get into it,but yet in Europe,and south america it is a famous sport.Let me know what you like about soceer.

posted by rhecker at 07:51 AM on January 18

I realise, of course, that I am asking for trouble... Maybe, a little bit, in that you linked to an article whose subject is antediluvian prejudices against a sport that enjoys huge worldwide popularity. It is to be expected that you'd hear some responses that regurgitate the same tired old canards about soccer: slow, boring, not fast-moving enough to keep my attention, etc. The thread somewhat invites that, and so while comments to the effect of "that's a stupid sport/I hate that sport" are normally very bad form on SportsFilter, you've somewhat legitimized them in this thread. What makes them not so legitimate is that the article is mostly not about how "soccer is as American as apple pie"; it's about the phenomenon of soccerphobia. Thus, I think a lot of the comments are not so much reflections on the subject of the article as they are "no it's not" comments in response to your thread title. Personally, I find soccer-phobic attitudes disturbing, in that they're usually quite irrational. So you don't like the sport -- so what? Don't play it. Don't watch it. But announcing to the world that you don't like a sport that you are not compelled to watch or play seems silly. Likewise, soccer-phobic attitudes often seem to indicate a certain lack of perspective on what it takes to appreciate any sport. I love baseball; so do millions of other people. I also recognize that baseball isn't a love-at-first-sight sport, unless you're talking about the highlights reel -- and I wonder if every sport isn't like that. Appreciation takes patience, a willingness to look deeper, an acceptance of the fact that you're not going to get what's cool about a sport with a casual glance. If a sport is an important part of your culture, it's much more likely that you'll be exposed to it enough that you'll develop that appreciation, even if you aren't the sort of person who normally has that sort of patience. That doesn't make your culture's sport of choice intrinsically cool and watchable and better than other cultures' preferred sports -- it just means that, through years of constant exposure through the popular culture, enough of it rubbed off for you to develop that level of appreciation. I don't have that appreciation for soccer, but I don't kid myself that that's because of something about soccer -- it's something about me, and the time I haven't put into watching and playing and trying to understand the game. If I spent that time, I believe, soccer would prove to be just as fascinating as baseball.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:02 AM on January 18

God bless Steven Wells - always entertaining, the ol' sonofabitch. And if you don't like soccer, then don't like it. I personally don't understand what is so difficult to appreciate about it - it's clear to me that it's an athletic and aesthetic success - but there's no requirement to like it. Do you care whether or not any other nationalities like the NFL? or NASCAR?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:13 AM on January 18

I hate to pull out the old standby comment, but here goes: If you don't like a specific sport, why come into a thread about it and shit all over it?

posted by hawkguy at 08:46 AM on January 18

Soccer/football doesn't catch on in America because American television is run by corporate whores who won't put a beautiful game on the television because they can't bloody interrupt it every 30 seconds to sell some stupid bloody product no one bloody needs! The sport is the most played in the United States already! The television networks just use their circular logic to keep it off the air. They don't put it on because their advertising overlords won't let them and then they claim there is no market for it. Bullshit. Fox Soccer Channel realized how stupid this was and they air many many games from around the world (and the MLS); and because they do, Premiere League teams (and other football associations) are finding new fans in the states... and making tons of money in the process by selling merchandise, etc. Don't blame the game for your own short attention span. What I will give you is that it is harder to follow the beauty of the game when you can't see everything going on on the pitch. Same as American football though. When one is at the game one can see the nuances of the game and the movement of the players away from the ball. Same with hockey. Same with almost all other sports, with the exception of basketball. The beauty of a game is in the details and the work done by players away from the ball. But if you don't like the game and don't have an open mind, keep your ignorance to yourself, please. Part of the beauty of this community is that we don't rag on people for their affections for a sport (whether we believe it is a sport or not). If you don't like it, don't participate. Find a thread that does interest you where you do have something to contribute. Ok, my coffee and homemade cinnamon buns are done.

posted by scully at 09:20 AM on January 18

Owlhouse, the article was really funny. I too belonged to the American Legion of Soccerphobes until about 15 years ago. A co-worker was also a youth soccer coach with a fairly high-level traveling team. We got into a discussion of the game one day, and he proceeded to teach me how to watch it. I had never really seen the intricacies of attack and defense (or is it defence?). I began to understand positioning and movement off the ball. The similarities between soccer and other sports that require putting an object into a goal (hockey, basketball, lacrosse) became apparent. It was a revelation. Having said that, I must confess that I am still not a fan. I will watch a Premier League or top tier European or Latin American match if it is available and fits my schedule, but I won't go out of my way to do so. I bear no ill will toward the game, but the diving, complaining, and seeming lack of consistency on the part of the officials leave me cold. Soccer is slow in the sense that an offensive build-up requires time. There is almost no "transition game" as there is in hockey and basketball, likely caused by the relative size of the playing surface. As a red-blooded American, I do agree with the assessment that soccer does offer the opportunity to kick some foreigner in the shins, and thus deserves some measure of acceptance. Any time I can vicariously rub some commie pinko bastard's nose in the dirt is a good time for me.

posted by Howard_T at 09:43 AM on January 18

yerfatma said "What really rekindled my interest was watching the World Cup through the eyes of our more seasoned members." The summer of 2006 was a great time. Many of us hung out on the unofficial SportsFilter chat site and watched the games together. Members from all over the world. And people new to soccer/football could ask questions and have them answered in real time. Euro2008 will be played between July 7 and July 29. If you are someone who is genuinely interested in learning more about the game, consider tuning in then either online (see the Guidelines for details on the chats) or check local listings and hope that ESPN2 will decide it is better to air Euro2008 rather than a hotdog eating contest.

posted by scully at 09:45 AM on January 18

When one is at the game one can see the nuances of the game and the movement of the players away from the ball. Same with hockey. Same with almost all other sports, with the exception of basketball. The beauty of a game is in the details and the work done by players away from the ball. Terrapin and LBB hit the essence of soccer pretty much on the head. The game is not instuitive such as football and to some extent, basketball and to a much lesser extent, baseball are. A person has to have been born in a soccer nation and have played the game for a number of years to understand what is happening at all points on a soccer pitch (field), once that understanding exists, one sees the beauty of every good move by a player, even if it does not result in a score. The arguments used to pan soccer by those that dislike the game can be used to describe the experience that baseball is encountering worldwide (except in countries like Cuba, some South American countries and Japan, all of which got a heavy dose of baseball culture from the USA). Baseball, like soccer is a game that is difficult to understand if a person does not spend years watching the game, or playing it.

posted by Cave_Man at 09:46 AM on January 18

There is almost no "transition game" as there is in hockey and basketball, Not true, Howard_T. Happens all the time. It is part of the excitement. A team presses forward and brings the defensive players up in order to have more numbers. A missed pass and suddenly the other team is on the attack and with the defence forward everyone has to rush to get back and defend. IMO, that is more exciting on a larger playing surface than on a smaller one, and it is part of the reason players need to be fit in order to go all out for 90 minutes, with out time outs. Damn, I wish it was Saturday or Sunday now :)

posted by scully at 09:51 AM on January 18

Soccer less intuitive than (American) football? I don't think so. I'm not knocking any sport, but I think soccer is about as intuitive as they come. Any game where kids can turn up on a field with a ball and four jumpers is clearly not that hard to grasp. For Americans who don't like the game, that's fine. Any sport is obviously going to be lessened if you don't have an emotional attachment to it. Supporting a team, or knowing what is at stake in the match is what matters. I do find it amusing how many Americans still seem to want to loudly proclaim how much they dislike soccer. It's not like you see European sports writers with "baseball sucks" articles.

posted by salmacis at 10:44 AM on January 18

I did not mean to demean the sport with first post Oh no, of course not. Likewise I'm not demeaning you when I agree that crassly xenophobic, casually homophobic, tediously sexist and smugly pig-ignorant soccer-bashers are scum. I'm just seeing what that comment looks like in the context of a post. /wink wink/

posted by r8rh8r27 at 10:59 AM on January 18

I am an American who grew up watching baseball and football, but playing youth soccer. I have remained a huge fan of American sports, but over time, I have become a bigger and bigger fan of soccer. Soccer is a fantastic sport due to its simplicity. Compared to the American sports of baseball, football and basketball, soccer is near anarchy. While those sports have huge rule books, the official FIFA soccer "laws of the game" is a tiny pamphlet. Now, that might sound un-american in itself, but think of the American Constitution as an example. While other countries have super complex documents, the US has a simple, straightforward, yet ultimately broad document that is more about what the government can't do, rather than how citizens are to behave. Soccer is like that. Simple, full of improvisation, with fairly little input from officials. For my money's worth, the reason why Americans can not get into soccer has nothing to do with whether it is boring or not (personally I find the sport fascinating). Rather, I think it has more to do with American statistics based sports culture. Think of out sports; there is a stat for everything. Everything can be measured and mathematically analyzed. We enjoy that. Hell, I enjoy talking about Albert Pujols' OPS or Randy Moss' yards after catch. Soccer on the other hand, has relatively few stats. Sure, you can count goals, but how do you statiscally analyze the value of a Claude Makalele (for those of you uninitiated, he is the best defensive midfielder in the sport)? But lets think about boring sports for a moment. Baseball, as much as I love it, is horrendously boring. It moves at a snails pace, has little direct interaction between participants, and has a commercial break every 5 minutes. We love baseball because we grew up with it, not because it is so much fun to watch. It becomes fun as we become engrossed in the culture of the sport. If you don't know all the tons of rules, baseball is impossible to follow. Think about cricket as an example. Do any of you not part of the Commonwealth have the foggiest idea what the hell is going on? But, see this is the hope for soccer in America. Soccer, not baseball, basketball or football, is the most played youth sport in America. Every year more and more kids grow up with the sport, much like myself. While they may continue to enjoy American sports, growing up with and understanding soccer will lead to more people loving the sport. The NASL couldn't last because there was no base, but the MLS has lasted and is steadily growing due to these young fans. For those of you who don't like the sport now, you likely never will. But I predict that over time there will be fewer and fewer like yourselves.

posted by Chargdres at 11:09 AM on January 18

These soccer fans are getting upset with us for asking what is so great about their sport. If it is so great i would think they would jump at the chance. I could start a wnole blog about what i love about football. Baseball too. If you're saying the sport sells itself, clearly it does'nt or we wouldnt be having this conversation. I joke about soccer, but i do respect that it is the most popular game in the world. I assume that there must be a reason for that, so soccer fans, here is your chance. Make your case. Otherwise, im just gonna assume you love it because you always have, and if you weren't born into it it, you never will love it. If that is the case, then no, it will never catch on in the states. i sincerely want to know what is so great about it. so please drop the defense mechanism, and promote your sport.

posted by elijahin24 at 11:17 AM on January 18

eli, don't you think that as more and more kids who grow up playing soccer get older, it will become more prevalent? In my opinion, that just makes sense. That said, I never played, and only watch during the cup or Olympics. (Also in my opinion, no fan of any sport should ever have to justify (promote) their love of a sport to anyone.)

posted by hawkguy at 11:29 AM on January 18

Every year more and more kids grow up with the sport, much like myself. While they may continue to enjoy American sports, growing up with and understanding soccer will lead to more people loving the sport. The NASL couldn't last because there was no base, but the MLS has lasted and is steadily growing due to these young fans. Those that dislike soccer point to youth participation not trnaferring to a braoder adult fan base. Those people probaly have not played the game and probaly seldom attended any games that their kids participated in. The number of youth teams have increased something like 10 fold within the last decade, so much so that playing fields are difficult to come by and have to be scheduled well in advance, even when those fields have many playing time time slots available. The number of adult leagues have increased four to five fold. It is not a matter of whether soccer becomes the top USA professional sport, it is just a matter of when that happens. I say that it overtakes baseball within the next decade and pulls even with basketball in terms of fan base. American football will be harder to overcome, but as more people understand the beauty of soccer, it will ultimately overtake american football. There is nothing in any of that to be affraid of, all sports will continue to be played and have their fan base.

posted by Cave_Man at 11:30 AM on January 18

If you're saying the sport sells itself, clearly it does'nt or we wouldnt be having this conversation. I joke about soccer, but i do respect that it is the most popular game in the world. You see how you basically answered your own question about it selling itself. Soccer was invented (for most intents and purposes) in Britain. Now see where it's popular. Now try to explain this whole idea of "you only like it because you're born into it and can't defend it". Try the Chinese first. Then move onto South America. And I don't care if you like or not - of all the sports in the world it needs your fandom the least - but I do take umbrance against people professing logic where there is none.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 11:48 AM on January 18

These soccer fans are getting upset with us for asking what is so great about their sport. If it is so great i would think they would jump at the chance. Soccer requires exceptional fitness, great balance and limb control, a brilliant sense of timing, excellent anticipation of events that have to be reacted to in a split second if they happen, excellent mobility, great acceleration, and a great sense of position on the field of play. The individual battles among players on the pitch are part of a continum of battles taking place all over the pitch. Dangerous players are fronted one on one by an opposing player, but constantly shadowed by one or more additional opposing players. Those are the features that I love about the game. As I wrote, I played football and basketball as a kid and only started to play soccer as an adult. I compare soccer play to what happens between a wide reciever in football and the defensive backs, a striker tries to break down a defense in soccer just as a wide reciever tries to break down a defensive backfield. The defensive midfielder in soccer is equivalent to a strong safety in football while the soccer offensive midfielder is akin to a football quarterback.

posted by Cave_Man at 11:49 AM on January 18

And no people who play soccer are not gay, what about football players like quarterbacks and running backs who look at the offensive blockers behinds. Just thought I'd point out there's a critical comma missing in the first part of that sentence. I doubt Scars believes all soccer players are gay. US soccer is doing ok and extremely talented players have migrated into the sport. During the recent past (10 years ago), only a couple members of the US team played in elite European leagues, now something approaching 1/2 - 2/3 the men's squad play in elite or second tier leagues across Europe. I don't feel there's anything wrong with top American players going to Europe to play in the best leagues and making the most out of their talent, but I think that is one of the main reasons that soccer isn't popular here. Soccer is played by more youth than any other sport in America, but when the elite of those youth are ready to go pro, they head to Europe. From there, the only live events we can see them at is if their club tours the states, or national team matches. We don't generally support foreign pro leagues. Japan has proven to have highly talented baseball players, yet not many people here care about Japan's pro baseball league. Same thing goes for Euro basketball leagues. Even with the added exposure to Euro league soccer on Fox's soccer channel, I don't believe support for those leagues will catch on here. I agree that the quality of MLS has improved over recent years. As it's reputation grows as a viable professional league, so will soccer's popularity grow.

posted by chamo at 11:50 AM on January 18

eli, don't you think that as more and more kids who grow up playing soccer get older, it will become more prevalent?...Also in my opinion, no fan of any sport should ever have to justify (promote) their love of a sport to anyone To the first part, hawk, no i really dont. Im not saying that the popularity wont grow at all, but i think so much emphasis is on football, baseball, and basketball (and hockey in the northernmost parts of the country) that even as these kids who play grow up, for the most part they will primarily support other sports as a spectator. Having said that, i do think that with the rise in the latino population in this country, especialy the first generation immigrants, the popularity will grow. But those arent new fans. they are people who braught their love of the game with them. But ammong people who have lived here for generations i dont think soccer will ever rise into the top three. To the comment about justifying, i think you're misreading me. im not asking the question to be confrontational. I love sports. If im missing a great sport, id like to know why its so great. It isnt a matter of justifying anything. Soccer is the most beloved sport on the planet earth. That requires no justification. Certainly not to a 28 year old who is just now getting a serious start to his college education, in an indiana town who's entire poplation could go to a texas tech game and Bobby would still be pissed about attendance. But i digress. My point is not to degrade soccer. I just want to know what it is that im missing. I can look at golf and say i dont like to watch this because...then write a laundry list of things i dont like. With soccer, there is nothing i particularly dislike, there just isnt anything i particulaly like either. so again i ask, drop the defense mechanism and explain to me like im a 3rd grader, (with the sports IQ of a 28year old fanatic) why should i want to watch soccer?

posted by elijahin24 at 11:50 AM on January 18

I don't really understand why there are so many kids that play soccer in the U.S., but that doesn't translate to adult soccer fans. My best guess is the lack of continuity in the U.S. professional leagues. When I was growing up, lots of kids played soccer and kids loved to watch the Rowdies (the Rowdies arrrrre, a kick in the grass). By the time I was grown, the Rowdies were gone. In the area I live now, I'm not a fan of the local teams. But, my daughter is learning to play soccer, and I have taken her to D.C. United games. Hopefully, they will still be around when she is grown. Otherwise, it is difficult to get the fan loyalty which is what makes sports really popular.

posted by bperk at 11:55 AM on January 18

Soccer fans, look at cave mans thread. This is what i was asking for. Thank you caveman. While i am not yet sold, i will watch a soccer game and look for those things. Maybe then i will have a better appreciation for it. By the way, whoever said "soccerplayers are gay", seriously dude, using gay as an insult, doesn't say much for your credibility. For that reason, im not scrolling up to see who it is. Im just saying for future reference, think of a better insult.

posted by elijahin24 at 11:57 AM on January 18

and only watch during the cup or Olympics. This could be part of the problem. No matter what the sport, the neutral fan wants to see the best competition and the best players/teams. I think the best football is played at the club level. Sure Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Portugal play beautiful football, and the rival games are must-see. But on a whole I think the Champions League is a better competition. The start of the knock-out rounds next month in particular is the best sporting competition on Earth. Following closely behind are 1st tier domestic leagues with a 'everyone plays everyone' format and the possibility of being dropped or promoted from the league. As a semi-casual fan I'm sure hawkeye and others like him do not really have the opportunity to see these games or understand their context. If FSC and Setanta were available on basic cable packages growth of these leagues would soar. The other major obstacle is the rejection of the draw. People in America just do not respect a drawn competition. American soccer leagues have gone to great lengths to supplant the draw with obscene endgames. But the draw is an important part of football historically and tactically. It can't be removed. The idea that a team will go into a match and WANT to get a tie is just too foreign for most.

posted by r8rh8r27 at 11:58 AM on January 18

I realise, of course, that I am asking for trouble... Kudos to owlhouse, who has in his own way staged a coup of us SpoFites. By labeling a soccer thread as "culture" he manged to get a 40+ post thread about the beautiful game. A rarity among a constant barrage of 'lets debate the on base percentage of the American League for the third time this week' dailies. Had he chosen the more common approach, and put this under "soccer" it would just be me, him, and WC'02 in here agreeing with each other, again.

posted by r8rh8r27 at 12:19 PM on January 18

I don't really understand why there are so many kids that play soccer in the U.S., but that doesn't translate to adult soccer fans. My best guess is the lack of continuity in the U.S. professional leagues. I disagree that youth soccer has not generated adult fans. I think it most certainly has, but you are attributing the number of fans you expect to see to the number of youths playing soccer NOW. To get a more accurate picture, you should look back at the numbers of youth players who stuck in the sport for at least 5-10 years from 20 years ago. These people, who are now taking their kids to MLS games, are the adults you are looking for. This current generation of players, which is producing some amazing talent such as Jozy Altidore, Maurice Edu, Josh Bornstein, etc., is also producing more and more fans. The MLS will likely never be as big as MLB or NFL, but they have also been here for much longer. Soccer has only really been prevalent here for 20 years or so. Also, the fact that the MLS will never be a truly world dominant league, like the NBA and MLB are is a factor. But in time, the talent pool in the MLS will get better, and the number of fans will increase to a point where soccer will no longer be considered a fringe sport.

posted by Chargdres at 12:34 PM on January 18

Yeah, there's not a lot of soccer action, other than kids club-level here in Kansas.

posted by hawkguy at 12:37 PM on January 18

Well, at least the author recognizes that the likes of Rome and Glapski don't really speak for an entire nation. I'm not a soccer fan. I played as a kid and loved it, just don't care to watch it. However, I can still recognize what would draw one to it, that it has tremendously talented, highly trained atheletes competing, on many occasions, in a truly worldwide competition. It seems quite simple-minded to say that, just because you don't understand or appreciate something, nobody else should. That's what neanderthals like Rome and Glapski are doing (with apologies to any Neanderthals out there.)

posted by tahoemoj at 01:05 PM on January 18

I don't really understand why there are so many kids that play soccer in the U.S., but that doesn't translate to adult soccer fans. My best guess is the lack of continuity in the U.S. professional leagues. See my rant above about the US TV networks being corporate whores. For everyone who says WE need to convince them that soccer is worth their while... Explain to me why you love your wife/girlfriends/husband/boyfriend, because frankly I think they are ugly. :)

posted by scully at 01:21 PM on January 18

To the first part, hawk, no i really dont. Im not saying that the popularity wont grow at all, but i think so much emphasis is on football, baseball, and basketball (and hockey in the northernmost parts of the country) that even as these kids who play grow up, for the most part they will primarily support other sports as a spectator. I think there's something to this. Sports fandom in the United States has become not just a spectating activity, but also a consuming activity. It's been argued that the limiting factor in the development of significant fan bases for anything other than MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL is the finite amount of fan dollars (and, you could say, hours that a fan can sit in front of an idiot box, but we seem to constantly find ways to expand this despite the basic laws of physics). I find that argument plausible, although I don't much like what it says about the type of "fan" we typically produce.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 01:26 PM on January 18

Agreed - there are only so many hours to spare. The truth is for soccer to become one of the big spectator sports, it has to replace one of the existing ones.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:56 PM on January 18

Even with the added exposure to Euro league soccer on Fox's soccer channel, I don't believe support for those leagues will catch on here. And I think that the simple fact that Fox has a soccer channel with revenue coming in from advertisers shows that it already has caught on here in the States. elijahin24 Might I suggest you come to the campfire one day when there are a few of us from around the world watching a match and chatting live about it at the same time. I believe you would learn more there in 15 minutes than you could with all of us explaining it to you in here.

posted by Folkways at 02:12 PM on January 18

I am one that predicts that soccer will overtake baseball and/or basketball in popularity I dunno about baseball but basketball will probably be surpassed by soccer soon. I don't how it is in the rest of the country but in the metro NY area the Latino and Eastern European populations are booming and with that so is the interest in soccer. At my job (which is mostly staffed by Dominicans and El Salvadorians) we watched the tournament played between every team in the Western Hemisphere and this is while baseball season was in full swing. Soccer is the Marxist concept of the labour theory of value applied to sports Stephen Moore is so biting off of Chuck Klosterman with this statement. For more on Soccer=Communism check out Chuck Klosterman IV.

posted by HATER 187 at 02:23 PM on January 18

Elijahin, better yet, watch a big match in a pub with a knowledgeable fan... My bet is he or she won't mind any questions thrown their way if you are truly curious. (I actually had to do this with baseball for a couple of Germans a few years back... it really heightened their appreciation of the game beyond the beer drinking/people watching aspect).

posted by trox at 02:26 PM on January 18

Oh, only 16 hours or so until Saturday's kickoffs! C'mon you Gunners! In an interesting side note, did anyone else see that Fulham may look even more like the US National team as they seem to be signing Eddie Johnson (which would be American number 5).

posted by trox at 02:28 PM on January 18

Gooners? Come on you Blues!

posted by Chargdres at 02:36 PM on January 18

this is 2008, we do not need to use slurs

posted by Joe188 at 02:39 PM on January 18

trox: I worry. We have such trouble with lower table teams. Is FSC showing the match? I get up early on my days off to watch! Come on Arsenal!

posted by scully at 02:40 PM on January 18

the finite amount of fan dollars (and, you could say, hours that a fan can sit in front of an idiot box, but we seem to constantly find ways to expand this despite the basic laws of physics DVR how I love thee. I woke up before kickoff of the early game last weekend. Turned the TV to the pregame and hit pause. Showered, began a modest 'honey-do' list, walked the dogs, hit play. By half-time, after FF through commercials and bullshite, I was caught up to the live broadcast. Paused. Watched the entire ManUre v Newcastle match (almost all, I stopped at five-nil feeling slightly nauseated). Restarted NFL playoffs sans commercials while the next game just started to record. By the start of the 3rd q of the Pats game I caught up to the live feed again.

posted by r8rh8r27 at 02:46 PM on January 18

C'mon trox, thats not even fair! I could watch figure-skating if i could do it in a pub, while getting liqured up with some drunk fanatics! Anything can be fun under the right circumstances! Does St.Louis have a team? Thats the closest major city to me. If anyone is a fan from the StL area, let me know, I wanna drink and learn to love soccer. (Oh shit dont anybody tell my wife. the last thing she wants is for me to take on another sport!)

posted by elijahin24 at 02:48 PM on January 18

C'mon trox, thats not even fair! I could watch figure-skating if i could do it in a pub, while getting liqured up with some drunk fanatics! Dude...when was the last time you walked into a pub filled with drunken figure skating fanatics?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 03:27 PM on January 18

Hypotheticaly, lbb.

posted by elijahin24 at 03:40 PM on January 18

elijahin24, I don't think I've ever linked to one (or 3) of my posts. I don't know if these posts will mean anything to you, but I'm throwing them out here per your request. Get ready...these are looooong posts..... I Love Soccer

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 03:42 PM on January 18

l_b_b: you owe me a new monitor!

posted by scully at 03:44 PM on January 18

Does St.Louis have a team? There's no MLS team in St. Louis (yet). There will be a women's team in the city when the new pro league starts next year (but then again it's hard enough to get fans of the men's game to watch women play so I'm not even gonna go there). I'm guessing Kansas City would be the closest team to you.

posted by goddam at 03:50 PM on January 18

Don't even get me started on the womens game...

posted by Chargdres at 03:54 PM on January 18

Of all the criticisms related in the article, the ones that are funniest are the claims that football is Communism, football is socialism... Let me see, which sports have player unions, owners' cartels exempted from antitrust laws, salary caps, compulsory drafts, limited numbers of teams, no promotion/relegation (ensuring the in crowd stay the in crowd irrespective of merit), where stadiums are built on the taxpayer dime; which sport flourishes in a brutal free market for players and clubs, where failure means elimination from the top tier, where success means entry to ultra-lucrative tournaments, where stadia are funded by clubs that play in them, where saw, naked social Darwinism is a constant, grinding force on players and clubs. I'm sure as hell not describing mainstream US sports in the latter, am I?

posted by rodgerd at 06:43 PM on January 18

Ah, the sweet smell of a warm summer afternoon, the wind softly blowing through the trees and running across the centerfield grass kicking a soccer ball around with my friends. Now, more than ever, I look forward to that moment. How long until summer gets here?

posted by dj sko at 09:40 PM on January 18

"In Latin America the border between soccer and politics is vague. There is a long list of governments that have fallen or have been overthrown after the defeat of the national team." -Luis Suarez "Football is the ballet of the masses." -Dmitri Shostakovich And don't forget all the drama down in Ivory Coast... Iíll see if I can find a link for those who haven't followed it. I'm impressed by all the Arsenal support!! Gooners for the Cup!! And LLb, we have had our differences in the past, but let me say this: Bloody excellent post!! Thank you.

posted by Goyoucolts at 10:39 PM on January 18

Here are the few I found... Enjoy!! Jailed Peace Drogba scores another winner

posted by Goyoucolts at 11:06 PM on January 18

Personally, I find soccer-phobic attitudes disturbing, in that they're usually quite irrational. So you don't like the sport -- so what? Don't play it. Don't watch it. But announcing to the world that you don't like a sport that you are not compelled to watch or play seems silly. Well I guess I'm silly then. I tried to watch soccer on tv and well lost interest fairly quickly. I will tell you that watching my son play in grade school was more exciting (probably had more to do with him than the sport) and enjoyed cheering his team. Soccer-phobic is not the right term to use for most people who don't like the sport. People who don't like soccer are not picketing to make the sport illegal or anything. I don't see anything wrong with expressing an opinion about liking soccer or not. If soccer becomes a huge sport in the U.S., its ok with me, after all I don't like to watch NASCAR either. Maybe if I went to a live soccer or NASCAR event I might change my mind, but I have baseball, hockey and to lesser extent, football to occupy my time.

posted by Nakeman at 11:53 PM on January 18

I've got an idea. Let's modify soccer to fit American tastes. With a few modifications, like running with the ball, throwing, tackling, blocking; Americans would love it. We'll call it football.

posted by canstusdis at 01:02 AM on January 19

It's been said many times, if you toss a ball to an American child, they will try to catch it, a child from most other countries will try to kick it. I never appreciated soccer (football) until I moved where it is the number one game. The enthusiasm of their fans is contagious and the more you watch the more beautiful it is. To watch Tom Brady throw a perfect pass 50 yards to Randy Moss on the dead run is beautiful, to watch the same thing done in soccer with their feet is amazing. I believe each player in soccer has to have a much broader skill set than most American sports. They might all be called 5 tool athletes, run, jump, kick, head, and slide to defend, and maybe more.

posted by gfinsf at 03:11 AM on January 19

Phew. That didn't turn out too bad, did it?

posted by owlhouse at 03:46 AM on January 19

Arsenal/Fulham is on FSC and I am sitting alone around the campfire. Join me?

posted by scully at 09:07 AM on January 19

Thanks for keeping me company goddam! GO GUNNERS!

posted by scully at 11:14 AM on January 19

Nice win over Fulham...

posted by Goyoucolts at 01:29 PM on January 19

for those who were saying it is just too boring to watch, I have a challenges. If you get the Fox Soccer Channel, check out the indoor soccer games on Friday nights Indoor Schedule. To the soccer purists, this may be the equivalent of arena football but at least maybe it will give you a chance to see the game in a more action oriented manner. The indoor game has more similarities to hockey - 6v6, boards and sub on the fly - all lead to more action and scoring. It took me a while before I really got into watching 11v11 on TV. It is definitely a sport that is better live where you can get the bigger picture. Plus I find the MLS teams play at a much more physical level in the playoffs (and unlike other sports, I can actually afford and find MLS playoff tickets). As far as overall popularity of soccer, we have an over-the-hill league in MA . There are literally hundreds of teams and there is even an Over 60 division. There are many indoor soccer options allowing us to play year round. I played American football in high school and college, and then touch football for 10 years after that. Soccer is a great froum for aerobic excercise and fun. I also find it much more physical than touch football and basketball.

posted by endorfin at 02:01 PM on January 19

I like watching soccer for a few good reasons: The clock is always running. In a lower-level game this can be a bit frustrating, where the players often lack the ability to keep the ball in play. But in top-flight soccer, the ball is kept in and the game unfolds and you see a consistent flow of tactics and gambits that delights both the eye and mind. The coach prepares the team for the game, but has little control over what happens during a game beyond substitutions, general instructions, and the halftime speech. This means that the players have to understand what's going on, recognize situations as they develop, and react in a way that not only furthers their aims but is understandable to the team at large. I find satisfaction in seeing a drilled action seem second nature and knowing that coaches had everything to do with the fact that the player had the right reflex or intention, but have no control over his actions during a game. I also find soccer interesting on a global level. It fascinates me to see a game played in so many different styles, so many different places. Beyond some of the obvious differences based on average height or climate or altitude, there is a wide variety to the tactics and training and mindset of the player depending on nationality. That some leagues, stacked with foreign players, still evince a national style, makes this deep truth richer for me, and encourages my interest in different peoples off the field as well. I like that the soccer field is big, and that the players don't wear much to protect against each other. Of course, the diving is ugly, but every sport has its unseemly abuses, like time-outs to ice the shooter/kicker. Doesn't seem that bad, does it? Doesn't make it sportsmanlike, either. I think some of the disdain soccer feels in America may come from the fact that American football doesn't have a women's version. I don't think it should, or at least that's not my point here. The point is that a lot of American boys grow up playing football, and if they had athletic girlfriends (or knew any athletic girls), they often played soccer. Same with field hockey, played by men many places, just not here. And I'm not here saying men don't play soccer, or that soccer actually is a women's sport. But there are a lot of American guys who have seen it with their own eyes: there's football, played only by men, and soccer, played by everyone. Baseball players commonly have a similar relationship with soccer players, but their mistrust of soccer is often also rooted in nationalism and the sense that any summer pastime other than theirs is unamerican. Of course, tossing these generalizations around is utimately as false as anything, but that makes it about as true as anything, too. My reasons for liking soccer, above, are far more solid than my speculative and fanciful musings on sports psychology.

posted by Hugh Janus at 02:38 PM on January 19

Soccer-phobic is not the right term to use for most people who don't like the sport. But it is the right term to use for people who feel the need to jump into a thread about soccer just to say how much they hate it. (as I've already explained above, this thread is in a slightly different category)

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:25 PM on January 19

I also find soccer interesting on a global level. It fascinates me to see a game played in so many different styles, so many different places. Beyond some of the obvious differences based on average height or climate or altitude, there is a wide variety to the tactics and training and mindset of the player depending on nationality. That some leagues, stacked with foreign players, still evince a national style, makes this deep truth richer for me, and encourages my interest in different peoples off the field as well. Absolutely. Love it.

posted by tselson at 11:09 PM on January 19

Yeah, thirded.

posted by yerfatma at 08:35 AM on January 20

Absolutely love soccer too! The USL (http://uslsoccer.com/) is actually a more fun league to watch than the overpaid and commercialized MLS.

posted by BoriQa at 11:02 AM on January 20

the overpaid and commercialized MLS. That's a joke, right?

posted by goddam at 12:20 PM on January 20

I think some of the disdain soccer feels in America may come from the fact that American football doesn't have a women's version. Umm, the Pittsburgh Passion went 12-0 this season winning the championship of the Independent Women's Football League.

posted by scully at 01:17 PM on January 20

Hugh, beyond the IWFL, the sadly defunct WUSA, there's a new top flight professional league debuting soon (Mia Hamm playing the MJ part in their logo) and the fact that the US Women's National Team has won more hardware overall than any other national team.

posted by billsaysthis at 05:04 PM on January 20

I'm a little confused; the IWFL is a women's gridiron league, and the WUSA is a soccer league.... I'm saying for high-schoolers there is women's and men's soccer but only men's football. This may have something to do with the way football players (and ex-players, and die-hard fans) view soccer. There's women's gridiron in America the way there's men's field hockey in America. Super-niche sports so far from the mainstream that even sports diehards don't know it exists. I'm all for it, but I don't really think it means American girls play American football. But that's not what I was on about.

posted by Hugh Janus at 04:13 PM on January 21

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