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I Get Mail – How Soccer is Ruining ‘Merica

This one was so preposterous as a mail, I figured everyone should have a laugh! It is no secret that the rest of the world is crazy  for football while “America” is not. Instead America plays four sports of which only one is  played widely enough to have a World Cup (Ice Hockey).

So it is rather puzzling to see this piece of mail.

Soccer is running America into the ground, and there is very little anyone can do about it. Social critics have long observed that we live in a therapeutic society that treats young people as if they can do no wrong. Every kid is a winner, and nobody is ever left behind, no matter how many times they watch the ball going the other way. Whether the dumbing down of America or soccer came first is hard to say, but soccer is clearly an important means by which American energy, drive, and competitiveness is being undermined to the point of no return.

Soccer or Association Football is based out of the older game that became American Football. It was tamed a lot so that players didn’t get injured since the original game was just violence on a field.

I… I don’t think you grasp football (the sport I am referring to is called football by the entire planet and last I checked? We outnumbered you guys!). At no point during a football match does anyone tell all the kids that everyone is a winner. In fact? There is a clear winner and clear losers in the football match. It’s just that since it is a low scoring game, the matches are closer and more nail biting for it.

What other game, to put it bluntly, is so boring to watch? (Bowling and golf come to mind, but the sound of crashing pins and the sight of the well-attired strolling on perfectly kept greens are at least inherently pleasurable activities.) The linear, two-dimensional action of soccer is like the rocking of a boat but without any storm and while the boat has not even left the dock. Think of two posses pursuing their prey in opposite directions without any bullets in their guns. Soccer is the fluoridation of the American sporting scene.

Baseball. Seriously? It’s like low scoring Cricket where no one hits the ball and when they do there is little to no control. Put it this way? If you watch the footwork of someone like Sachin Tendulkar who was widely considered the greatest “ever” to play the role of batsman in Cricket and in baseball? There is little to no comparison. To watch someone hit a 100 mile per hour ball with the edge of a bat so that it passes between fielders? That’s interesting. Sure Test Cricket exists, but the purpose of that is a pure game of batsman versus bowling without over constraint.

If you play linear, two-dimensional football then you will get linear and two dimensional scores. This is like giving  a dog a sudoku puzzle. It’s only numbers after all.

It’s a man kicking a curve ball. All that trickery with your hands? That’s being done with his foot. We play two-dimensional football because kids don’t learn the finer strategies of football in the same way that kids don’t learn the finer strategies of basketball.

For those who think I jest, let me put forth four points, which is more points than most fans will see in a week of games¯and more points than most soccer players have scored since their pee-wee days.

If you score 30 points a match, then each  point doesn’t mean as much. A striker can remember every goal because each one is special.

1) Any sport that limits you to using your feet, with the occasional bang of the head, has something very wrong with it. Indeed, soccer is a liberal’s dream of tragedy: It creates an egalitarian playing field by rigorously enforcing a uniform disability. Anthropologists commonly define man according to his use of hands. We have the thumb, an opposable digit that God gave us to distinguish us from animals that walk on all fours. The thumb lets us do things like throw baseballs and fold our hands in prayer. We can even talk with our hands. Have you ever seen a deaf person trying to talk with their feet? When you are really angry and acting like an animal, you kick out with your feet. Only fools punch a wall with their hands. The Iraqi who threw his shoes at President Bush was following his primordial instincts. Showing someone your feet, or sticking your shoes in someone’s face, is the ultimate sign of disrespect. Do kids ever say, “Trick or Treat, smell my hands”? Did Jesus wash his disciples’ hands at the Last Supper? No, hands are divine (they are one of the body parts most frequently attributed to God), while feet are in need of redemption. In all the portraits of God’s wrath, never once is he pictured as wanting to step on us or kick us; he does not stoop that low.

I snorted coffee out of my nose when I read this.

I am not good at football. And there are people who simply dance with the ball at their feet. If we tried it? We would be eating grass. The point of football is that the sport is easy to play, easy to explain and cheap.

But hard to master. Most people can kick a ball, but not everyone can kick it with that accuracy under that pressure.

If these are your arguments then you are an idiot. The point of a rule restriction is to make the game more interesting. Rugby and Football shared the same roots but went down different ways. Football became a non-contact sport, while rugby continued in the original vein. Maybe it is because the mailer is an American. Maybe he just isn’t exposed to football bar watching children play.

2) Sporting should be about breaking kids down before you start building them up. Take baseball, for example. When I was a kid, baseball was the most popular sport precisely because it was so demanding. Even its language was intimidating, with bases, bats, strikes, and outs. Striding up to the plate gave each of us a chance to act like we were starring in a Western movie, and tapping the bat to the plate gave us our first experience with inventing self-indulgent personal rituals. The boy chosen to be the pitcher was inevitably the first kid on the team to reach puberty, and he threw a hard ball right at you.

Thus, you had to face the fear of disfigurement as well as the statistical probability of striking out. The spectacle of your failure was so public that it was like having all of your friends invited to your home to watch your dad forcing you to eat your vegetables. We also spent a lot of time in the outfield chanting, “Hey batter batter!” as if we were Buddhist monks on steroids. Our chanting was compensatory behavior, a way of making the time go by, which is surely why at soccer games today it is the parents who do all of the yelling.

Baseball is cricket for children. We play it’s ancestor in schools. Rounders. FYI? Old English Sport. We just preferred Cricket.

So there are no rituals and individuality in football? Are you mad? Showboating IS football!

He wasn’t a great striker, but everyone remembers the celebrations and the personality. And it is rather sweet.

Two things Americans have no idea about.

In Cricket? There is something called Sledging. Hey Batter Batter? Is cute. We had sledging, which was verbal abuse designed to break concentration. Often witty.

And you have never heard an entire football stadium of 50,000 people sing songs about how much you suck. Every game has sledging or an equivalent. The only difference is football has taken steps to control it because of it’s association with racism and an attempt to make the game better, social and more suitable for visiting children.

3) Everyone knows that soccer is a foreign invasion, but few people know exactly what is wrong with that. More than having to do with its origin, soccer is a European sport because it is all about death and despair. Americans would never invent a sport where the better you get the less you score. Even the way most games end, in sudden death, suggests something of an old-fashioned duel. How could anyone enjoy a game where so much energy results in so little advantage, and which typically ends with a penalty kick out, as if it is the audience that needs to be put out of its misery. Shootouts are such an anticlimax to the game and are so unpredictable that the teams might as well flip a coin to see who wins¯indeed, they might as well flip the coin before the game, and not play at all.

I think you are confusing football for the Mayan Ball game. No one ever is sacrificed to the gods of football.

Most games end in positive scores. In fact? The Team I support (And Ally Fogg too) only drew 5 times in an entire season. And there is a reason why a draw is interesting too. Shoot outs are for one off games that NEED winners. Most games played never use them.

4) And then there is the question of gender. I know my daughter will kick me when she reads this, but soccer is a game for girls. Girls are too smart to waste an entire day playing baseball, and they do not have the bloodlust for football. Soccer penalizes shoving and burns countless calories, and the margins of victory are almost always too narrow to afford any gloating. As a display of nearly death-defying stamina, soccer mimics the paradigmatic feminine experience of childbirth more than the masculine business of destroying your opponent with insurmountable power.

Basketball by that logic is for girls. And you are against football because boys are idiots? This is one of the arguments that gets brought up a lot. Girls are sensible,  boys are idiots. No. We make girls sensible because they have to grow up young. Their childhood is training. Boys? They learn escapism.

I had a female best friend growing up. We played together a lot. My toys were Lego. Hers was a wendy house. One’s a toy of the abstract and of imagination and construction. The only real life skill I learned from Lego was how to put up Ikea. A Wendy House? That’s designed to teach you a life skill that women are expected to have. Her goal in life was set up aged 8 as “home maker”. Now there was no malign intent in her parents. They were both doctors, but the joke is that whenever we played “house” I was always the stockbroker. Aged 8? I had no fucking clue what that was!

Aged 28? She’s the stock broker and is married to a lovely lady in New York. The joke being that was what she always wanted. This is why I think “girl’s toys” should be universal. I think the toys girls play create their ideals while boys are encouraged to play for the sake of play.

That being said? When I played doctor as a child? I had a proper stethoscope and real syringes and empty pill bottles.

This man right here. This is the sort of person who ruins sports. This is the sort of person who takes kids leagues too far. This is the sort of person who encourages their kids to hurt other kids because winning is more important than playing. What this man encourages? Is Douchebaggery.

The point of football is power also counts. There are famous players who have power. The statement is that you either have trickery and skill or you have power and force. There are few players that have both. City have Yaya Toure who can provide pin point passes, through balls (AKA a pass aimed so that a running player will run onto the ball without having to stop) while also being fully capable of a shoving match with a defender to keep a ball in possession. The physicality of football is different. It is a semi-contact sport. You do have player to player contact, you just cannot wrestle people to the ground.

Let me conclude on a note of despair appropriate to my topic. There is no way to run away from soccer, if only because it is a sport all about running. It is as relentless as it is easy, and it is as tiring to play as it is tedious to watch. The real tragedy is that soccer is a foreign invasion, but it is not a plot to overthrow America. For those inclined toward paranoia, it would be easy to blame soccer’s success on the political left, which, after all, worked for years to bring European decadence and despair to America. The left tried to make existentialism, Marxism, post-structuralism, and deconstructionism fashionable in order to weaken the clarity, pragmatism, and drive of American culture. What the left could not accomplish through these intellectual fads, one might suspect, they are trying to accomplish through sport.

Bets on the OP being white and American and having no sense of the word “irony”.

And football has nothing to do with Marxism. Seriously? American Football’s opulence needs to get on our level. You cannot use the words Decadence and Marxism in the same category. It’s like saying Liberace had Spartan Aesthetic.

Yet this suspicion would be mistaken. Soccer is of foreign origin, that is certainly true, but its promotion and implementation are thoroughly domestic. Soccer is a self-inflicted wound. Americans have nobody to blame but themselves. Conservative suburban families, the backbone of America, have turned to soccer in droves. Baseball is too intimidating, football too brutal, and basketball takes too much time to develop the required skills. American parents in the past several decades are overworked and exhausted, but their children are overweight and neglected. Soccer is the perfect antidote to television and video games. It forces kids to run and run, and everyone can play their role, no matter how minor or irrelevant to the game. Soccer and relevision are the peanut butter and jelly of parenting.

I played football for 24 years. And I am sad to say, that my skills were harder to acquire than those playing rugby. Americans turn to soccer because soccer beats American football in one way.

It is easy. The ball is the only real piece of equipment you need. It requires very little training to learn the rules. It is satisfying to score. And it is universal. Do you know why we never adopted American Sports in our schools? See our sports is designed for everyone to play. The point of sport is not to break down children and bully chubby kids. It is to make sure we are healthy. We played football and rugby to burn calories and fight obesity. In the USA? Sport is only for the few and elite. Million Dollar Facilities for a handful of students. In the UK? We had school teams, but we all played sports on the weekdays. The weekends were for teams.

And if you think a role is minor or irrelevant to the game? Think again.

Italy’s Goalkeeper is widely regarded to be the best in the world. Buffon’s transfer fees would have been in the 40 to 60 million euro line. For JUST a goalkeeper. The spot usually picked last.

There is a difference between someone who understands the sport and someone who does not is someone who understands the sport realises why a role is important even if it is minor. Let us take Nigel De Jong. Played for City.

When he played it was nearly impossible to score goals because of his disruption of opponent play. If he didn’t play? City were just as fragile as any other team. Just one player in a minor role. All he was doing is making sure players behind the usual goal scorers didn’t get to pass cleanly. A “minor” role that has major impact. Football is like that. A goal is a team effort. Kids won’t understand what a deep lying striker or a target man does for his team. Either dropping in to force defenders to play out of formation or pushing the line up to create space. We have seen rigid football and we have seen “Total” football and this charming man seems to have only seen children play the game. It is like deciding on how basketball is played by watching kids rather than Michael Jordan.

I should know. I am an overworked teacher, with books to read and books to write, and before I put in a video for the kids to watch while I work in the evenings, they need to have spent some of their energy. Otherwise, they want to play with me! Last year all three of my kids were on three different soccer teams at the same time. My daughter is on a traveling team, and she is quite good. I had to sign a form that said, among other things, I would not do anything embarrassing to her or the team during the game. I told the coach I could not sign it. She was perplexed and worried. “Why not,” she asked? “Are you one of those parents who yells at their kids? “Not at all,” I replied, “I read books on the sidelines during the game, and this embarrasses my daughter to no end.” That is my one way of protesting the rise of this pitiful sport. Nonetheless, I must say that my kids and I come home from a soccer game a very happy family.

Sigh….

Football is magic. It is the cheapest sport you can play. All you need is a ball. Any ball. There are people who play football with tennis balls and volleyballs. Anything that can be rolled about. you don’t need the lines, you don’t need 11 man teams. My Nigerian co-workers tell me they used to make balls out of plastic bags. I tell them that Indian street cricketers make their balls out of tennis balls and insulation tape (tennis balls bounce too much and don’t swing or spin as much)

Football’s heart and soul is in children playing with rolled up jumpers or rocks to mark the goal posts. I may not excel but I played it like this. One side were the bags, the other side was the bins. That was our goals. We all took turns in goal. No slide tackles and roughness because we played on asphalt. The heart and soul of football comes from players of this street game. From the Favelas of Brazil to the cul de sacs of Wembley, we all learned to play this scrappy game with no roles. This is where we learn all the skills. Passing, shooting, defence. On the big pitch? Our individual strengths come in and decide our positions and indeed our roles within that position. .

It is a game that is simple. But it can be wonderful. The talent in football comes from using the simple to do extraordinary things. Like watching Ronaldinho hit a crossbar on PURPOSE to demonstrate accuracy. Imagine throwing a baseball so accurately that you hit a baseball bat. Now imagine kicking it and applying swerve to do so. It is the mastery of simplicity that makes football great. It is watching someone do something that you COULD do as the sum of the parts of the achievement are nothing special. But combined? 

Anyone can hit a drum. Not everyone can be a drummer for Dream Theatre.

You will cheer a goal as much as you will cheer a save because the game is beautiful because of the save. The drama, the tension cannot be matched. Games are won and lost over a second. 

To denigrate the sport of the common man is classism. It is the boorish classism of people who think that if they don’t do anything common, they will magically be classy. To them the rockstars of the sport are gauche and nothing more than tripe. They are entitled to their opinion. Just as I am entitled to mine. 

They will never have stood shoulder to shoulder in the cold to see that one moment of beauty and passion. That one second where physics, physicality, skill and luck are perfectly aligned. To watch Maradonna destroy an entire team’s defence by himself and score is art. To watch the “crazy legs” of Grobellar distract a penalty shot sufficiently to save is art. To watch that inch perfect cross hang in the air while a striker meets it is just art. 

I was at the Premier League’s final match two years ago. Manchester City HAD to win. They were losing by 1 goal. 

It was high drama. City scored an early goal, a mistake lost them  the advantage. And a second goal despite being a man down due to a City Old Boy (Joey Barton) behaving like a dick and attacking two current players. Manchester City were losing. That heart stopping game play is not found in any sport. It was 30 seconds of skill that won a trophy. The first of a club’s in decades. Look at the time at which City Equalised and then Won. In Injury time, they turned the game upside down.

That is football too. That capacity to make your heart stop.

And no other high scoring sport has that capacity. if you are 30 points behind in basketball the game is over. Baseball is slow. American football stops every few minutes and Rugby has the need for special equipment. Same for Cricket. Football has that capacity to turn from slow to fast in a second.

But football? Watching a loser become a winner is just as beautiful as watching your own team lose.

Comments

  1. oualawouzou says

    That… was the strangest attack on football I’ve ever read. I could only picture it being read aloud by Homer Simpson or that guy from American Dad.

  2. Akira MacKenzie says

    Americans love their version of football for one reason only: the macho violence. I swear, the only thing that could eclipse its possibility eclipse its popularity would be if we brought back actual Roman-style gladiatorial combat.

  3. BobGee says

    Okay… after years of lurking here (and elsewhere on FTB) a post about football finally gets me to comment…

    Thanks Avi, this has been one of your best posts ever :)! Even the way you wrote captures the excitment of watching a good footballmatch.
    Do you get to watch the World Cup? The match Spain – Netherlands summed up everything that is great about football for me. The final match of the last WC repeated as first match in the prelim group…. and the reigning champion is utterly destroyed in a score of 1 – 5!!

    What shocked me most about that mail you got: That guy claims to be a teacher?? I pity the poor kids who get their “education” from such a xenophobic, jingoistic PoS

  4. Menyambal says

    That guy really justifies his own upbringing and preferences. Which is too common.

    I liked your defense, explanation and praise. Such enthusiasm.

    There are reasons that American football requires cheerleaders and beer for the audience. And no, the god-given hands are not in use very often—that was a stupid point.

    Soccer, on the other hand, could be praised for the restraint and discipline that each player shows by not using their hands.

    As you say, and as my dad said after a visit to a soccer country, there are kids practicing their footwork with homemade balls in any space. American kids cannot do that.

    There is some beauty in American sports, though. A baseball triple play is amazing. A football caught in the end zone and run back through the middle of the entire other team will make you smash your hat. But, yeah, it happens too rarely. And, my dog, the fanaticism of American fans for the oddest of things …..

  5. anne mariehovgaard says

    Have you ever seen a deaf person trying to talk with their feet?

    Well, no, but I have seen a woman hold and spoon-feed a baby with her feet… (had no hands/arms)

    What an odd rant. Football is boring like a duel, and feminine in a smart but angry and animalistic way?

  6. BobGee says

    anne,
    according to Mr. Charming Teacher that amazing woman is hellbound… remember he explictly said you can’t properly pray if you don’t have hands/arms…

  7. says

    The problem is never that people disagree, it’s that some “think” others aren’t allowed to disagree. It’s true of the religious and their attitude towards atheists, and it’s true of the person who wrote to you in crayon, whining about football (or World Football as I call it, to differentiate it from North American Football).

    I risk being accused of US-bashing, but one big problem with some Americans and sports is, if they’re not winning, they don’t want to know about it. The US has to be the best or “it doesn’t matter”. You, on the other hand, waxed poetic about the greatness of players regardless of flags. Canadian hockey fans are similar, we still speak with great respect for Soviet players from the 1970s, none of whom ever played in the NHL.

    I’m not a football fan so I wouldn’t criticize it, unlike the other person, but football should adopt two things from hockey. (It is not “ice hockey”. Hockey is played on ice, field hockey is played on grass. ^_^) And hockey should definitely adopt football’s 3-1-0 points system.

    First, football should have two referees, one with authority at each end of the field. More eyes to see and more authority to call fouls will reduce dirty play. Less distance to run also means they’re better able to cover the action and not be as tired and prone to mistakes, and they have someone to confer with on calls. When the NHL started using two refs, there were a lot more penalties in the first couple of years, but since then the amount of dirty play has dropped dramatically.

    Second, adopt unlimited sudden death overtime, at least for the World Cup or Euro tournament. I doubt you watched it, but the last game of Stanley Cup Finals was played on Friday. It took 35 minutes of overtime (two periods) before the winning goal was scored. They played more than half as long in overtime as they did in regulation time (60 minutes). Why not do that in World Cup playoff games and eliminate penalty kicks, especially when they play games three days apart? Play 30 or 45 minute overtime periods until somebody scores, and allow an extra substitute for each period.

    http://youtu.be/CRBtTIY572s

    Ahem. Excuse me for the length of that.

  8. BobGee says

    left,
    the problem is: european football fans seem to *love* having controversial ref calls we can bicker about for *decades* ;) If you are not familiar with the topic already try googling “Wembley Goal”;), Seriously, there have been plenty of suggestions of adding refs and/or electronic gadgets to detrmine things like goal/not-a-goal for years, and they were all turned down.
    And at least one European Championship was played with a Suddden Death Overtime System, but that was abbolished again.
    We do seem to loath addopting “filthy furrin” ideas into our game rules. But we don’t rant against “filthy furrin” sports like Mr. Charming Teacher does ;)

  9. smrnda says

    Whenever I read an USian bash football (I use the term football as I lived outside the US enough to call it that, and I call the US thing “US Football”) it’s just like reading any know-nothing criticize something they don’t understand and are probably not good at.

    Games you don’t play can seem easy just since *you aren’t playing the game so you do not know.* Using your feet is a skill, it’s only a ‘uniform disability’ if you have 2 teams who both never practiced before.

    On what this guy praises, it’s mostly idiotic macho posturing, the stuff that’s holding the US back, not our unique and magical strength. the ‘self-indulgent rituals’ from baseball bit?

    Is this idiot even aware of the often violent fanaticism that accompanies football the world over? If he thinks football is too take compared to US sports, the guy should really read up on the topic.

    Football, as you mentioned, is an inexpensive game and given the $ USians thrown down the hole for sports one with lower equipment costs seems like a good idea.

  10. David Marjanović says

    Basketball is quite widespread, and hockey not terribly much less so. Baseball, however, is almost limited to the US and Japan and I forgot what the third country is.

    At no point during a football match does anyone tell all the kids that everyone is a winner. In fact? There is a clear winner and clear losers in the football match. It’s just that since it is a low scoring game, the matches are closer and more nail biting for it.

    In the US, soccer is a game for 10-year-olds; it’s commonly their first sport, and apparently in many cases no score is kept because all other aspects of life in the US are competitive anyway.

    Anthropologists commonly define man according to his use of hands. We have the thumb, an opposable digit that God gave us to distinguish us from animals that walk on all fours.

    I’m a biologist. I can’t even begin to describe how much is wrong with these two sentences.

    Soccer penalizes shoving

    If the referee sees it – maybe! :-D

    the margins of victory are almost always too narrow to afford any gloating.

    LOL.

  11. angharad says

    I just want to know how this guy is praying in order to involve his thumbs….

    (1..2..3..4..I declare a thumb war…..maybe?)

  12. RJW says

    Not everyone outside the US is ‘crazy for football’, apart from the UK, soccer isn’t the most popular type of ‘football’ in other English speaking countries, so America isn’t the only exception.

    In regard to the virtues of cricket as a spectacle—I’m reminded of a comment, attributed to a Frenchman–”the English invented cricket to demonstrate to humanity the concept of eternity”. Test cricket is almost meditative in its mind-numbing tedium.

  13. lsamaknight says

    “the sport I am referring to is called football by the entire planet”

    Close, but not quite I’m afraid. It’s soccer in Australia as well, at least for the moment.

    The recent re-organisation of the competition in Australia has seen a massive spike in its popularity but for the moment football (or the footy more likely) will still mean a different sport, though which one may vary. In Queensland or New South Wales (including the ACT) it will refer to one of the Rugby codes with Union or League very much depending on the individual. In… pretty much the rest of the country it will refer to Australian Rules Football.

  14. richenry says

    What’s odd is that he used phrases like “demanding”, “intimidating”, “face the fear” and “spectacle of your failure was so public” to describe baseball, then dismisses penalty shoot outs as a coin toss. Penalties are exactly all those things he lauds about baseball. By that logic the whole game of baseball is nothing more than a coin toss.

    Then he moans that his family is really happy after a day of football? Of course your family enjoys football – it’s one of the least exclusive games in the world. This may come as a revelation to this chap, but people enjoy having fun and, here’s another crazy idea, for some people taking part is more fun than watching. (I’d argue that downhill mountain biking on the other hand is infinitely more fun to watch than participate in)

    My dear American friends, come join the party that the rest of the world has been having for decades. There’s no shame in being late, just show some enthusiasm now and you’ll catch up soon enough. Isolationism is dull and boring (like having a World Series in which only one country competes), global entertainment is uniting and beautiful.

    (and it’s a shame that clip of Crouch only showed his national goals, because his goal against City in 2012 was a moment of sublime beauty)

  15. Randall Shane says

    David,
    FYI, baseball is also popular in Mexico, most of the Caribbean countries, Korea and Taiwan.

    Avicenna,
    The idiot who wrote to you is, well, an idiot, of course. But one thing I don’t understand is that why most defenders of soccer can’t defend the sport without trashing nearly everything else. It’s not necessary for American-style football or baseball to suck in order for soccer to be recognized as the great game it is.

  16. thecalmone says

    As someone who grew up with Australian Rules (and who always called soccer “soccer”), the thing that has always bothered me about soccer is that it is so low scoring that the result of a game can be determined by somebody cheating. When the outcome of a game can hinge on whether or not the referee awards a penalty to someone lying on the ground writhing in pretend pain then the game has a serious structural flaw. Ditch the ridiculous, anti-competitive offside rule and make the game higher scoring and fairer!

  17. lorn says

    I never really got into the watching sport thing.

    I played sports as a kid and enjoyed them. But if I’m not playing I simply don’t care. Perhaps this is because early on I understood that he teams were entirely arbitrary. Yes, the team was named after a city or some locality but the players and coaches come from all over. Knowing that I’m always taken aback as to why anyone would fall for being so easily manipulated as to prefer the local team.

    Somehow I think the critique of soccer would be mollified somewhat if the writer understood that some of the history comes from a game played with a human head and booting it between villages several miles apart and that the competition was so intense that players sometimes died. Make it more of a historic blood sport and he would like it more.

    I also wonder about how fragile the writer thinks the US is. If introduction of soccer is the beginning of the end we really aren’t much of a nation. I figure we are made of sterner stuff.

  18. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    ROFLMAO … I didn’t understand “futbol” until I was in Guadalajara’s huge market shopping when “Los Chivos” were playing the archrival club from Mexico City. Every vendor was “pegado al tele” (glued to the screen) and I could have been waving thousand-peso notes and shrieking “Yo quiero comprar” (I want to buy) and been ignored. Some friends took me to games and explained me things like headers and strategy instead of the “3 yards and a cloud of dust” of American football.

    Fast-forward to the 1986 World Cup that Mexico hosted. It’s a 1-on-1 duel between Maradona and any goalie – I don’t remember the match, but there was “a look” between Maradona and the goalie that said “try it, buster!”

    … and because I was watching the Mexican channels and not the pathetic USA coverage … a shot of an Argentine backfielder massaging a cramp out of the Belgian goalie’s leg (Jean-Marie Pfaff?) while the Belgians were trying to score at the other end.

  19. Ysidro says

    This has to be satire. The “no scoring thing” isn’t a complaint about the low scoring nature of the game, but of the youngest levels of play where scoring isn’t kept because the children are so young they barely have control of their own limbs! Every other comment is similarly over the top.

  20. Holms says

    This seems appropriate.

    Anyway, this was one of the most preposterous rants I have ever seen, starting with the author’s entirely subjective ‘I prefer American football to soccer’ and going all the way to national ruin. And yet, the single silliest thing in the post comes not from Random Murican, but from our own Avicenna:

    If you watch the footwork of someone like Sachin Tendulkar who was widely considered the greatest “ever” to play the role of batsman in Cricket…

    I don’t even need to reply to this with words. My reply to this is simply: 99.94.

  21. says

    @Randall at #16. Exactly this

    But one thing I don’t understand is that why most defenders of soccer can’t defend the sport without trashing nearly everything else. It’s not necessary for American-style football or baseball to suck in order for soccer to be recognized as the great game it is.

    I love soccer, I played as long as I could and I love watching the World Cup. I agree that most of the conservabro criticism of soccer is misguided. But American Football is a really great sport too. And so is Baseball (played all over the world actually). So is basketball (also an international sport). I’m not a fan of hockey all that much, but I don’t think my sister is silly to be a big Penguins fan. I get no exposure to cricket here in Cincinnati, but I’m not going to insult the sport needlessly just because I grew up watching The Big Red Machine be the best baseball team ever (yes, I’m officially middle aged).

    One of the biggest obstacles to Americans loving the World Cup imho is that every four years the rest of the world shows up to tell us how stupid we are for not loving the World Cup.

  22. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    If you watch the footwork of someone like Sachin Tendulkar who was widely considered the greatest “ever” to play the role of batsman in Cricket ..

    Three words Avicenna : Sir Don Bradman!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Don_Bradman

    (I see # 24 Holms has beaten me to it but for the non-Aussies and non-cricket lovers here..)

    PS. Still haven’t forgiven Italy for the last World Cup robbing our Socceroos with their diving. If I were running the sport the diving cheats would have their legs broken on the spot!

    (Okay maybe not quite but that’s the worst thing about soccer and something does need to be done to stop and penalise that practice.)

  23. Billy Kremer says

    I’m from the US and I appreciate the skill and athleticism of these footballers. I understand the rules of football, but definitely not the intricacies, as I didn’t play it other than at recess in 3rd and 4th grade. That being said, I have a hard time watching it on TV merely because it doesn’t entertain me or hold my attention. And I totally know this is a biased viewpoint as I spent the weekend watching the US Open golf tournament (I’m an avid golfer).

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I “get” why people love football and enjoy everything about it, but I just find it boring, no offense as I know most people find golf unwatchable. …oh yeah, and football is not ruining America.

  24. Numenaster says

    I’m going to agree with Z at #22 that this just HAS to be satire, solely because it contains this description of golf:

    ” the sight of the well-attired strolling on perfectly kept greens ”

    Clearly the writer knows as little of golf as he apparently does of soccer, because anyone who has seen John Daly, Ricky Fowler, or Ian Poulter knows that golf’s version of “well attired” doesn’t match any known fashion sense.

  25. cartomancer says

    I’ve never had time for any sport myself. I find the whole jingoistic communal tribalism thing they’ve all got going on somewhat worrying and upsetting. “Which version of the funny-shaped ball one is better” sounds to me like an argument over whether you’d prefer to get beaten up by an angry sailor or a gang of armed children.

    Cricket puzzles me though. Sport is basically symbolic warfare, and involves the sorts of skills that soldiers once needed on the battlefield – teamwork, composure, timing, taking orders, ballistic accuracy, stamina. This being the case, how on earth were we Englishmen fighting our battles when we came up with Cricket? Did we line up in queues at either end of the battlefield, wait for the enemy to fire a single shot, then run backwards and forwards through no-man’s-land until he’d managed to reload? Are those triune stump thingies some kind of vestigial portcullis or fortress wall, and all the running represents daring sorties and supply runs to keep it stocked with tea and gravy? Is it meant to teach conservation of ammunition? Is the arcane and incomprehensible scoring system a way of inculcating respect for the difficult job of the quartermaster? Or is it just a way to teach people the patience to endure three days of mind-numbing tedium in blazing hot sunshine, the only reward for which is an engraved plate and a small urn of ashes at the end of it all?

  26. says

    Sporting should be about breaking kids down before you start building them up. Take baseball, for example. When I was a kid, baseball was the most popular sport precisely because it was so demanding. Even its language was intimidating, with bases, bats, strikes, and outs.

    I really don’t understand what’s so intimidating about the language of baseball. Nor why this person thinks their opinion is representative of the other 7+billion people on the planet.

  27. Numenaster says

    Cartomancer, that was epic. In the US we are taught that at one time the British did indeed line up and fire single shots and that’s why I don’t live in the United States of Britain now. I’m curious what sort of propaganda your side tells about this.

  28. Numenaster says

    LOL. Our version of the propaganda mentions them as little as possible, leaving the distinct impression that their assistance was nice to have but not completely necessary. You have to get into university-level history for the whole story.

  29. says

    DrDMFM (@11):

    Basketball is quite widespread….

    Indeed. A proper World Championship (and the fact that it’s not called “World Cup” doesn’t make it any less so) and significant pro leagues throughout Europe and Asia, along with Australia. Plus, it’s growing significantly around the world as a women’s professional sport. Both the emailer and the OP more or less ignored basketball (aside from a couple of oblique swipes), but I actually think it’s the U.S.’s best claim to having truly enriched international sports culture.

    And basketball shares one of the things the OP (quite correctly) most admires about soccer: All you need to play is a ball and a pair of shoes (and really, the shoes are somewhat optional), and a park to play in (basketball courts with goals are ubiquitous in the U.S., even in the poorest communities).

    Baseball, however, is almost limited to the US and Japan and I forgot what the third country is.

    Someone else has pointed this out, but the “third country” might be Korea or Taiwan (the former has a major pro league; I don’t know about the latter, but it’s a world powerhouse in youth baseball)… or it might be Cuba… or Mexico… or pretty much all of Central America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. And, I gather, it’s popular in Italy (though I don’t know if there’s a pro league). And maybe Australia? (Not sure about that last.)

    Baseball also has the World Baseball Classic, a World-Cup-style quadrennial international tournament (there actually was a longstanding Baseball World Cup until 2011, but the WBC, which includes major professional league players, is more equivalent to the soccerfootball World Cup). A total of 6 national teams have won medals in
    WBC history… not including the U.S.! (Puerto Rico competes in the WBC separately from the U.S., as it does in most international sports.)

    And if simple, straightforward rules are a strength of soccer compared to U.S. football (and I agree they are), surely the same can be said for baseball compared to cricket? I’m sure cricket is a beautiful game (really!), but even those who love it joke about its arcane rules and scoring; to those of us who didn’t grow up with it, it’s positively opaque.

    As for U.S. football, I love watching the game, probably because I grew up with it (and I believe we’re all most likely to love the games we grew up with), but I find it troubling. Honestly, I find its series of finite, set plays easier to follow than free-flowing games like soccer and hockey (the very thing that makes those games beautiful makes them less obviously clear to an observer), but it’s a horribly damaging game to the human body. I think soccer fans need not worry about bashing U.S. football: It quite literally bashes itself, and IMHO the emerging science of traumatic brain injury will doom the game within our lifetimes. I will miss it when it’s gone, but I will not mourn it.

    BTW, I think hockey will meet the same fate, unless it bans not only fighting but all hitting. Personally, I think that would still leave a watchable game, but it may be a bridge too far for actual hockey fans.

    One last thing: USA 2, Ghana 1!! WOOT!

  30. plutosdad says

    This guy seems to be confusing the “don’t keep score, everyone is a winner” rules that many children’s leagues follow with the game of soccer itself. He doesn’t realize the kids could be playing any game and those rules could apply.

    At a young age it’s probably a good thing. My friend coaches in such a league, and all players are supposed to get equal play time, and the parents are constantly complaining that their superstar son or daughter is not allowed to play while some less athletic child is. But none of them ever will take up the coaching, or transfer their children into competitive leagues.

    And honestly the kids that young, whether they are playing soccer or basketball during the winter, are just standing around picking their noses and waving to their parents, or talking to their friends anyway. No matter what they are playing it is not exactly interesting to watch.

    But I digress, entire volumes have been written about the penchant for some leagues to have no scoring and no losers, and anyone could find those. I was wondering if you never heard of those since it didn’t sound like you did, and I didn’t see any comments on it.

  31. countryboy says

    I will say professional American sports suck. They drag on forever simply to provide more time for beer commercials. When I hear fans of a particular pro team spout “We beat em” my reaction is “I didn’t see your fat ass out there”. For the record, I enjoy watching kids play soccor or baseball. I loathe watching pro sports.

  32. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    One thing that I notice about the sports that were created in the US is exactly that – they seem to have been designed as opposed to glommed together as games such as football, rugby, cricket, etc. A few things seem common, mainly short bursts of activity and an almost fanatical interest in stats (which I find horribly boring) that puts cricket to shame. I don’t know, but as an outsider they seem horribly manufactured.

    I do occasionally enjoy a bit of American Football for the spectacle of huge idiots running full-pelt into each other as opposed to anything else. I mean they have frigging play books and radio for calls – how depressingly lawyer-esque is that? Stop. Start. Stop. Start. I played a game of touch American Football once as a teenager. It took us 3 hours to play a half. Admittedly only 2 people actually knew the rules and they had their hands somewhat full.

    Oh, and one thing, Crouch wasn’t a bad player. Even though he’s hugely tall he’s very good with his feet. he spent a season with my chosen lot (Portsmouth FC) and then went on to do fairly well in the Premier League. Not the best ever, accepted, but not bad!

  33. wannabe says

    Let’s get this straight: Football is superior to American football because there are fewer points scored. While cricket is superior to baseball because there are more points scored.

    OK, got it.

  34. Holms says

    Let’s get this straight: Football is superior to American football because there are fewer points scored. While cricket is superior to baseball because there are more points scored.

    OK, got it.

    This is basically the argument being made by the letter, except that author did not take it to its logical conclusion. ‘Soccer is bad because it scores lower than Murican football’, while omitting the obvious follow-up that, therefore, baseball ir also worse than cricket by that logic.

    Basically, the mistake being made by both the author of that letter and perhaps also Avicenna, is that a subjective judgement (liking or disliking a sport) is being argued as if it were objective. Really, all that is being said is a more elaborate wording for ‘soccer is boring / interesting to people that find soccer boring / interesting.’

  35. RJW says

    @40

    The invention of cheerleaders suggests that American football must be intrinsically boring, they’re superfluous to other spectator sports.

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