American Exceptionalism: So Exceptional That We Are the Only Nation That Realizes Soccer Sucks

There is nothing more boring than Americans who find a personal sense of superiority in their disdain for soccer. Sadly, they are everywhere. Warning: reading these articles may be dangerous to your health, as they tend to induce extreme and uncontrollable episodes of eye-rolling. Particularly so when they start bragging about not understanding soccer. “The rest of the world likes this sport, but I can’t understand what’s going on or why it’s interesting! Res ipsa loquitur, America is better. And smarter. And prettier.”

And then there are the Theories. The convoluted, detailed explanations for both why soccer sucks and why Americans are the only ones capable of comprehending this great truth. All of the soccer haters have Theories:

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.”

Because the sport itself is so boring, so devoid of action, of physical contact, of life, it falls upon the hyped-up (and in many cases, liquored up) crowd to enact the action that it failed to witness on the field. The patriotic crowd shows up looking for blood, and ends up with a zero-zero tie. Simply put, it is because the sport is so lifeless, that the crowds are so prone to violence.

For sure, there may be a number of reasons that is the case but my suspicion is that the so-called “beautiful game” is not so beautiful to American sensibilities. We like, as good small “d” democrats, our underdogs for sure but we also still expect folks in the end to get their just desert. And, in sports, that means excellence should prevail. Of course, the fact that is often not the case when it comes to soccer may be precisely the reason the sport is so popular in the countries of Latin America and Europe.

Despite the heroic efforts of soccer moms, suburban liberals, and World Cup hype, soccer will never catch on as a big time sport in America. No game in which actually scoring goals is of such little importance could possibly occupy the attention of average Americans. Our country has yet to succumb to the nihilism, existentialism, and anomie that have overtaken Europe.

In fact, if Real Americans were in charge, the World Cup would never be broadcast in America. The media’s coverage of the World Cup is all part of a thinly disguised liberal plot to destroy America, and to force “multiculturalism” down our throats:

Part of the liberal sales pitch for soccer is its popularity with Hispanics. Liberals who fetishize race are eager to adopt a sport with a special appeal for a certain minority, and it would never occur to them that new arrivals to the country might be well served adapting to traditional U.S. pastimes. To the left, it’s America that must change.

Or maybe, as one commenter claims, the reason America doesn’t like soccer is because we already have freedom. Only people without freedom — i.e., the rest of the world — need to use soccer as a substitute for the real thing:

Most of the rest of the world find almost exclusively in soccer, what we enjoy in great measure in real life: Freedom within sound rules to achieve our own goals.

As you can see, it is Very Important to these people that everyone knows how much soccer sucks. Lest someone in this great nation enjoy the World Cup, they must proclaim to everyone the truth: that America is unique among nations in being able to realize that soccer is a deficient and boring sport.

Except there’s a problem with that. America is not, in fact, a special, soccer-scorning snowflake — we aren’t actually the only nation that, every four years, saturates the media with repetitive OpEds on why soccer sucks. Australia is our equal on that front.

And this is from a nation that believes cricket is a thrilling activity. Something is very wrong with that country.

But part of the U.S.’s dislike for soccer (and Australia’s too) is that our soccer teams just aren’t themselves particularly exceptional. Unlike in the Olympics, we aren’t reliably going to wind up on top.

Oh, the U.S.’s squad isn’t bad. And, truth be told, I kind of enjoy the opportunity to cheer for the home team and also be cheering for the underdog. But they’re no Dream Team, so it must be tempting for some sports aficionados to write off soccer as “not important” as a means of excusing the U.S.’s failure to dominate.

But our failure to be Number One isn’t the entire story. For instance, our women’s team is pretty phenomenal, but that has done little to increase the standing of the sport in this country. Of course, that has more to do with a cultural disdain for women’s sports than it does with soccer, but even if the men’s team did the unthinkable and won the World Cup this year, I doubt soccer would become the next big thing here.

Another reason soccer never took hold as strongly here is market saturation. In the States — and also in Australia — there are already plenty of non-soccer sports crowding the airwaves, and there’s little demand for yet another major pro-sports league. Also, soccer is less convenient in terms of advertising opportunities for broadcast tv, so the networks themselves have little incentive to try to increase soccer’s prominence.

Almost certainly, soccer (at least at the pro level) will never be as huge in the U.S. as it is overseas. And that’s okay — plenty of sports in America have a small but viable market presence, and are still respected for what they do offer. But for the Soccer Haters, the idea that soccer might be semi-popular in the U.S. is, essentially, the equivalent of burning the American flag.

As a nation, we really need to get over the idea that there is a special virtue in disliking soccer. If it’s not your cup of tea, that’s fine; I promise that the Liberal Inquisition has no plans on brainwashing you to make you enjoy it.

But your failure to understand soccer says a lot more about you than it does about soccer.


14 thoughts on “American Exceptionalism: So Exceptional That We Are the Only Nation That Realizes Soccer Sucks

  1. Nobody fails to understand soccer, any more than they fail to understand the Democrat Party’s message. You should pick your straw men with more care.

    It’s not a failure of understanding you’re seeing, it’s contempt for a sport of, by and for weenies.

  2. That’s not how it works.

    Your point was that if only we understood soccer (as if anyone could misunderstand soccer!) we would like it. Or at least not feel such a burning need to make everyone understand how much it sucks.

    But both notions are straw men through and through.

    We understand soccer just fine, and we still think it sucks. This is most likely related to the fact that it does, in fact, suck.

    We also don’t much give a damn, except when the idiots du jour suddenly start spending wads of advertising cash on a pissant excuse for a sport. Then we feel compelled to comment.

    But you just go right on with your bad self, pretending that it’s dreadfully important to us that you understand that a sport we don’t understand (really?) sucks.

  3. If you don’t like soccer, that’s cool. That’s entirely possible. Personally, I don’t really care for hockey. The fights are nice, but, for me, hockey ranks just a little bit higher than ice dancing on the entertainment scale. If you just happen to not like soccer, this blog post is not about you.

    But if, as a matter of personal opinion, you don’t like soccer, and if use your failure to like soccer as proof that the people in most of the non-U.S. world are, and I quote, “weenies,” then you are exactly the kind of person my post was about.

    Whether a person likes or dislikes soccer says nothing further about their character. Ascribing random moral failings to people who like soccer is a silly, self-indulgent pastime.

    There is not some distinct “U.S. sensibility” that magically explains why we hate soccer. Nor is there some deeper meaning behind why the rest of the world likes soccer — it’s not because they are poor/despairing/brown/death-loving/undemocratic/nihilist/weenies, or any of the other terms various commentators haves ascribed to them. They like soccer because it has a bigger market share in the places they were raised in, and grew up appreciating the game.

    End of story.

    I posted a lot of links to crazy, illogical, and histrionic rants as proof that there are people out there who have bat-shit crazy explanations for why liking soccer is a deep moral failing, and why Americans are superior for disliking it. And a lot of them involve people who are in fact holding up their lack of understanding about soccer as a point of pride. You keep saying strawman, but I don’t quite understand why: my “strawmen” are pretty thoroughly referenced in my blog post.

    And people spend wads of advertising on lots of stupid products. Obviously, soccer annoys you for some reason other than that, or you wouldn’t be wasting time ranting about it in particular.

  4. Wandy Wager:

    1) To the rest of the world, ‘Merican Futball looks looks about as graceful and spontaneous as some “weenies” having trained a herd of rhino to dance the Minuet (look it up on Wikipedia if you haven’t heard of it).

    2) The sight of the helmet-topped body armor of the upper body combined with the oh-so-skintight pants would be enough to make Lady Gaga (or Freddy Mercury for that matter) blush.

    O’course the Ugly American[TM] chauvinism about this ludicrous pastime is simply the icing on the cake of this joke.



    • Dude. You totally just missed the point of this post, didn’t you?

      Sports are sports. They are pastimes involving varying degrees of athletic ability and competition. There is no deeper macro-political point to be made from any culture’s embrace or dislike of any particular sport.

      Now, if you want to criticize football for having only a measly 11 minutes of play time in the course of a three hour game, that’s fair enough. Same for criticizing soccer for having a screwed up incentive system that rewards faking injuries.

      But holding up a sport as proof that a given country that happens to play it is inferior is not a compelling argument. Knock it off.

      Plus, I actually kind of like the football uniforms. Maybe it’s a cultural thing.

      • Dudette:

        I was not attempting to make a “deeper macro-political point”, merely to point out that the American sacred cow whose superiority Randy and his ilk were defending, is every bit as ludicrous to outsiders as international football codes (of which soccer is only one, there’s also Rugby Union, Rugby League and ‘Aussie Rules’ aka AFL) are to Americans.

        If Americans don’t want us to laugh at their sports, then they should abstain from laughing at (or otherwise disparaging) others.

      • “They started it” is not a recognized defense for bad arguments.

        And to be fair to Rager (not that he much deserves it), he doesn’t actually bring up American football anywhere.

        But while we’re on the subject of international footy leagues and uniforms that would make Freddy Mercury blush, I would just like to point out that, in terms of most outrageous pants, the shorts that AFL players wear are far, far superior to anything the NFL has ever had.

        Who wears short shorts? These guys wear short shorts.

  5. Typical.

    Find a few extreme positions; paint all Americans who voice opposition (to soccer) as ‘illogical, ‘bat-shit crazy’, etc. then scold them for ranting.

    Which is precisely what you just did in this column – rant.

    A series of attacks and assertions. Very little in the way of facts or in favor of the actual sport itself.

    Oh but wait, we are fine as long as we have a Susan approved argument or we keep our opinion to ourselves. Got it.

    “Sports are sports” – whether in jest or not, you contradict yourself at least twice in the space of this short post. A. Australia’s appreciation of cricket. B. American’s not embracing women’s soccer. It isn’t good enough for you that most Americans don’t like soccer period – men’s or women’s. But there is something cultural – reading between the lines – sexist about it.
    Wouldn’t that indicate some deeper meaning?

    But then you’re back to asserting there is no macro-political point. Well, of course, except when Americans (or Aussies) like or dislike a sport.

    The only semi-legitimate point you make is about market saturation. And even that is a weak argument. Sports rise and fall in popularity like anything else. Boxing and its history contradicts nearly every assertion made the post and comments.

    Do you actually even like Soccer? Or just enjoy castigating Americans?

    “Shut-up!” she explained. Tedious and boring.

    • 1) Making fun of Australia is always legitimate, and I will stand by my god given right to do so.

      2) “Sports are sports” referred to the nature of the game play. They’re all roughly the same, viewed objectively and stripped of cultural meaning — you get a ball, whack it around a bit, try to succeed at a pre-determined goal more often than the other side does, etc. But we imbue our sports with deeper layers of cultural significance, most of which form the basis of a valuable and respected sports heritage, but some of which are absurd and unproductive. And discussing the source, significance, and validity of the cultural meanings we ascribe to sports is a legitimate topic of discussion.

      3) In the case of soccer, it has not been popular in America for a variety of historical and market reasons. However, a certain brand of Crazy Commentator has taken soccer’s relative unpopularity here and decided that this is a result of America’s unique superiority. By ascribing soccer with a “leftist” or “anti-freedom” agenda, the Crazy Commentators are trying to give the sport an ahistorical and illogical cultural meaning. This post argue that such a cultural depiction of soccer is ridiculous and should not be encouraged.

      4) The point about sexism in sports was tangential, and related to my argument that the fact America is not good at a sport is not a complete explanation for why it may not be culturally popular. Even when we have arguably one of the best teams in the world (i.e., women’s soccer), a sport can still be unpopular. Because women’s sports are not taken as seriously here (or most places), even having the best team in the world is not sufficient to make that sport widely popular, and particularly so when that team is not a men’s team.

      5) How does “boxing” possibly contradict anything? Just because some sports manage to rise and fall in popularity doesn’t mean they all will. I mean, Twenty20 is popular some places, but it’s not going to catch on here, because baseball pretty much crowds out any other stick and ball sport. And unlike in other countries, basketball and football are extremely popular here, and crowd out other arena sports like soccer. Could soccer possibly ever rise to prominence? Yes, but given those market forces, it’s unlikely.

      6) Of course I am ranting. And I am not “scolding” anyone else for ranting, I am scolding them for being batshit insane. There are literally scores of really, really crazy people out there who think, for instance, that soccer is only popular with people who like death and hate freedom. And yet these articles appear in major publications. This is completely fracking nuts. I am not “castigating Americans”; in fact, I am really quite fond of Americans, I think we are pretty great. Go us. I am castigating people who are completely fracking nuts, and also happen to be American.

      7) I didn’t “defend” soccer as a sport because I don’t really care if people like or dislike soccer. If you don’t like it, that’s cool. Why should I care what flavor of ice cream you like and what flavor you don’t? Just don’t claim that people who like coffee ice cream are all communistic and nihilistic death-lovers, because that is stupid.

  6. Fair enough regarding the Aussies.

    Then let’s talk soccer.

    First, the vuvuzela horns are headache inducing. But I’ve found that I can mask much of the sound using the EQ on my TV. It helps.

    To me, it looks like chess (football) vs. checkers (soccer). Soccer fans please don’t take offense.
    I am not saying that soccer is mentally as simple as checkers – just the comparison.

    Chess pieces are specialized – 6 different types of moves. In checkers they all move in the same manner. Soccer players all have the nearly the same skill but at different levels.
    Is that a fair?

    I have been watching the WC and I still don’t “get” it but it doesn’t bore. me. I am making progress.

    My biggest hurdle is the diving. And don’t tell me other sports do it. That is a cop out.
    The right dive can get a man sent off or score not just the winning goal – but the only goal of a game.
    In basketball a dive gets you 1 personal foul and maybe 2 points (of 100). If a player fouls out he can be replaced

    Even still – I am trying out idea that the diving is akin to a poker bluff. The off-sides can also be viewed a bluff/gamble.

    In my twisted world, soccer is a combination of checkers and Texas Hold ’em played at high speed on a massive field. Fair or unfair it helps me to appreciate the game.

    Still hate the diving. Not sure I can get past it.

  7. Susan, by and large, futbol is the sport of the imperialists and those colonized by them. Explains why Western Euro dominates the sport and the rest are the wannabes who used to call them massa. And so, ever since our forbears told the king to shove it up his you know what, well, we’ve no time for their game. Lastly, and by the way, re the understanding, most of us understand perfectly well. As inferior as you are, just put ten in the box and you’ve got a good chance of a, Hell Yes, We Tied, 0-0!!!! And ain’t that a hoot……

    P.S. the one thing that has rather greatly enabled the human brain to evolve, to the point of dreaming of exploring the cosmos, is the arm with an opposable thumb. So they might try using the arms with hands with opposable thumbs for more than goalkeeping and throw ins. In the meantime, they’ll just keep using their prehensile feet to swing from the trees. Which reminds me, some critique baseball for being slow and boring as well and wonder how and why it ever became the national sport. They miss my point as well. Baseball. A bat. A glove. The use of tools. Need an advanced brain and arms with hands with opposable thumbs for that as well. Maybe, one day, the tree swingers will wise up.

  8. You just don’t know what you’re talking about. Football (soccer, to make you understand) is the nicest sport in the world. The same reason it’s the most popular in the world. Please sit in your country and think of other sports we just don’t care about you. The rest of the world is in love with football.

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