Why Americans will never fully embrace Soccer & If American Athletes played SoccerJune 27, 2010
First let me start by saying this has nothing to do with the US losing to Ghana today. I’m not bitter about that at all, maybe it’s because I’m not that into soccer so I don’t have such an emotional investment. I’m just being pragmatic and analyzing American soccer. Maybe its because I directed too much hate that those Vuvuzelas. Also I want to say that the World Cup and America soccer entertains me. Just because I could only name 4 players before this tournament (with a little help) may not make me a diehard fan, but I think in the future, I’ll watch more international games. With that being said, I’ll need a lot of coaxing before I wake up early on a Saturday (what day of the week do they play soccer?) to watch a Premier league game between Portsmouth and Liverpool.
However, I think there a multitude of reasons why some/many Americans will never fully get behind the sport:
1. Its kind of boring – The game is exciting around the goals but when 75 percent of the game is spent passing the ball around midfield, I just get bored. Sure baseball can be boring but one hanging curveball and a homerun makes the game exciting. Even if NASCAR is 500 miles of left turns, the elements of horrendous crashes, pit stops, and fan favorites make it bearable.
1b. Low Scoring – A 0-0 tie should be the start of a game, but it shouldn’t be how a game ends. Americans want winners, not tie(ers). baseball is incredibly high scoring by comparison. Plus in baseball a game is equally exciting when the score is low and the pitchers are dueling. When a game is tied, there is no sense of urgency in soccer.
2. Americans have other choices – Football, baseball, basketball all at the college and pro levels, golf, NASCAR and that’s just major sports in the United States. With access to those and so many other options soccer is left in the dust. That’s probably a reason why I’ll never hear my son say “What to kick around the ol soccer ball dad?” Because we’ll already be playing catch (with a baseball) or tossing the ol pig skin around. Kids might play soccer for the first years of their life, but then they’ll realize that football basketball and baseball have 10 times the glamour and 50 times the paychecks so 98% of them will switch to the diamond, the hardwood or the gridiron.
3. Lack of stats -Goals and cards. Maybe passing and if your a keeper (goalie), saves. I love knowing a pitcher’s WHIP and ERA and a hitter’s Slugging and OBPS. I love knowing a receiver’s YAC, a running back’s yards after first hit and broken tackles and a Quarterback’s rating. Give me numbers! soccer gives me none.
4. No face of the team – I guess you could say Landon Donovan acts as that, but he’s just not a household name. And since the Best players in US soccer play professionally in Europe so even if Soccer fans wanted to watch American players, they’d rarely if ever get to see them live.
5. When does the season start? Seriously. I have no idea how the US team makes it to the World Cup outside of qualifying matches. Thats about all I got. But then there are other tournaments. Not sure how everything else works. In Football, Baseball, Basketball and everything there are seasons then playoffs then a Champioship. I get that.
6. No Rivalries – USC vs. Notre Dame. Boston Celtics vs LA Lakers. New York Yankees vs Boston RedSox. North Carolina vs. Duke Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears. These are rivalries. At the national level does America have a rivalry? America vs…. England? but thats more of a military history thing. Even at the MLS level there aren’t any real rivalries. But in European soccer, teams have hated rivalries. US soccer just doesn’t have that.
7. Our Best athletes don’t play the game – Imagine LeBron, Michael Vick, Kobe and Devin Hester all played soccer. How great would that be? What if America’s best athletes were on the American World cup team?
Now before I get into this, let me acknowledge soccer purists: NO, there is no indication that being a top player in football or Basketball means those skills will translate into soccer skills and besides, it’s a joke. Also I think age and personality should matter. Players like TO and Chad OchoCinco may have the personality for soccer, but they’d have been good 6 years ago same goes for LT and Steve Smith. Also, though it goes against the whole principle of it, Dempsey, Jozy and Tim Howard should still be on the team.
Assuming the U.S. will play the customary 4-4-2 formation…
Reggie Bush: Unbelieveable footwork, Lightening speed. He had a girlfriend popular for having a sex tape… yeah if he played soccer all his life, there’s no doubt he’d be the best athlete in the world.
Percy Harvin: Freakishly fast and makes defenders look stupid. He could easily fit as the young gun of the American team.
Kobe Bryant: He already likes the game, plus ever team needs a guy with his ups to head every one of Reggie Bush’s crosses and corners into the back of the onion bag. He’d bring in the money and a solid scandal would make him an international superstar. Can’t you see the movie title “Bend it like Bryant” coming to a theatre near you?
LeBron James: His size, ability to drive the lane and vision would help him bowl over defenders on his way to the goal would make him an intimidating force.
Chris Johnson: Best running back in the NFL? Speed? Power? Amazing footwork? Ability to see the field? Lateral running skills? Chris Johnson is all of that.
Rajon Rondo: His name sounds like a Brazilian or Portugese soccer phenom. Americans would have that guy with a one word name in Rajon! or Rondo! Either one sounds badass. Plus he’s arguably the quickest player in basketball, throw in his passing skills and vision, he’d be amazing on the pitch.
Champ Bailey: Clearly the veteran on the roster that is still the best at the game. When you covered the best wide receivers in the NFL for 11 seasons, Wayne Rooney wouldn’t be shit.
Troy Polamalu: His hair is too cool to be under a helmet. And when you think of having vision on the field, Troy’s name better be the first that comes to your mind.
Shawne Merriman: The guy rocks a damn mohawk (and beats tiny asian whores). You think he’d let some French sissy flop after Merriman attempts a slide tackle and get away with it? And we dare you to red card him.
Clay Matthews: He has a great look for a defender, those California golden locks would make him loved and hated. Could easily be the face of America soccer (same as Merriman). Think the Bash Brothers. And he’d have a pedigree in the sport.
Keeper: Dwight Howard: freakishly large and imposing. He’d scare whiny European fairies and take them out as he brings the ball in.