Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Soccer: Antithetical To American Beliefs?

The World Cup soccer tournament is upon us, and the more culturally sophisticated bloggers out there are singing the event's praises. While I'll admit that sometimes soccer can be somewhat amusing, I'm well aware that soccer will never become really "big" in the U.S. -- here's why:

First, let's get rid of one common misperception -- soccer isn't a great terrorist plot to destroy the United States. It is, however, in direct opposition to everything America stands for -- individual excellence, rewarding those who use all their God-given gifts, and fair competition. I'll cover each point individually.

Individual Excellence: Fans of American sports love to see a spectacular game-changing moment, as one athlete breaks from the pack and scores. Frequently, this takes the form of a long pass in football when a receiver gets behind the defense, or a fast break in basketball where an defensive rebound leads to a lob to a player running ahead of the defense. What each of these plays has in common is the sight of an athlete getting past the defenders and getting a pass from his teammate. In soccer, such a move is penalized rather than rewarded -- it's called "offside" (hockey has the same lame rule). Being penalized for trying to get closer to one's individual goal is something we see in socialism, not enlightened capitalism.

Using All Your Talents: American sports emphasize those attributes that make humans better than the animals -- our large brains and our opposable thumbs. Sure, soccer uses the brains part, but only one player on each team is allowed to use their hands -- that's downright un-American! In America, we use our hands to build a better world and catch a football, throw a baseball, or shoot a basketball. In soccer, using your hands if you're not a goalie is (you guessed it) a penalty. This seems like a metaphor for Old World societies, where the feudal lords kept the peasants down by outlawing the use of many of their talents. Carrying the analogy further, I could imagine soccer being invented to provide a form of recreation for all the peasants whose arms had been hacked off by a passing feudal lord, thusly:

Soccer tries to make up for the lack of using the player's hands by overemphasizing the use of our other advantage, the large brain, but they use it incorrectly. The concept of the "header", wherein you intentionally cause your head to strike a hard object, rightly seems to most Americans to be a really dumb idea -- brain damage and whatnot. Americans use a helmet.

Fair Competition: This is the main reason Americans will never embrace soccer. Look at the scores so far this weekend in the World Cup: 1-0, 0-0, 2-1, 1-0. Four games, 8 teams, probably 100 players, and 5 goals scored. Americans like game where anyone can score -- and demand games where at least someone scores occasionally.

I'll probably follow the tournament pretty closely, and watch as many of the games as I can, but don't expect me, or other Americans, to start demanding more televised soccer other than every four years -- unless they change the rules. If they get rid of the "offside" and "handball" rules, and allow real tackling, and have you carry the ball over a goal line rather than kick it into a net, and get some hot cheerleaders, then Americans will embrace the game -- not before.

Update 0222 13 June: Geez, we suck...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG that's funny stuff!

6/11/2006 3:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot a big one. Pansy diving, writhing around on the ground like its an ACL/MCL/PCL tear. Then, when the ref (not wearing black and white stripes) doesn't give a penalty, he hops up, limps for about a minute and is fine for the rest of the match.

I also saw an interesting item on ABC news about FIFA is trying to deal with racism in European soccer for this World Cup. Seems that Germany and other countries have been denying they have anti-black facsists. Much like they deny they have jihadi muslims.

6/11/2006 7:17 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I thought about bringing that up, but basketball has pretty much the same thing (without the serious injury faking part of it) -- it's still a flop.

6/11/2006 7:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right about soccer, but your arguments in favour of American sports hold just as true of a game which offers more complexity, more scoring and more opportunity for individual excellence, a game that Americans used to play really well until about 1900 - cricket.

6/12/2006 2:20 AM

Blogger Lee said...

you underestimate soccer at your own peril.

6/12/2006 6:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just saw that FIFA would not provide World Cup matches to AFN even at a discount. So, no soccer for deployed servicemen.

NY Times article (requires login) - hint: use

6/13/2006 6:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice selective listing of the game results. Yes, there have been low scoring games. There was also the 4-2 opening game, Mexico's 3-1 victory, the US's 0-3 drubbing at the hands (feet?) of the Czech Republic, and Australia's 3-1 comeback win (3 goals in the last 7 minutes after being down 1-0 the whole game).

Whenever the subject of why Americans don't like soccer comes up, I've always found the "the games are too low scoring" reasoning to be about the lamest excuse possible. Americans will watch a 4 hour pitchers' duel that ends 1-0 and say it was a great game, but they can't watch a 90min soccer game that ends 1-0 because there's not enough scoring?


6/14/2006 7:47 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

In my defense, those were the first four games during the weekend (Saturday - Sunday). I will admit to being selective by not including the result of the Mexico-Iran game, which was over before I posted.

6/15/2006 12:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

rueful red,

American's aren't going to sit through an 8 hour cricket match. Particularly when it's only on TV from 11:00 PM until 7:00 AM here, as it doesn't get enough viewers to be watched during the day...

I'm not going to disparage cricket (since I know nothing about it), but Americans just don't have the attention span for 8 hours.

6/19/2006 9:53 AM

Blogger Wulf said...

Anonymous doesn't like the argument that "the games are too low scoring", but for a viewer who has never played the game and does not understand the finer points, that low score is a death knell. It has taken me years to develop a tolerance for watching soccer for exactly that reason. Compare to something like basketball, where the scoring is non-stop. That is much more exciting to the novice.

Bubblehead, you have to admit that offside in hockey is a little better - it's closer to the American football version of offside. Especially under the new rules. I have always felt that offsides in soccer was too arbitrary - it's stupid.

6/19/2006 3:15 PM

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5/17/2011 1:58 PM


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