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Thursday, June 17, 2010

World Cup Not Making New Soccer Fans

Somehow soccer, or futball, has taken on the same cloak as art. The supposed most popular sport in the world is for “cultured” people who appreciate it. Those who don’t like it simply don’t understand it. There’s even an “ugly American” element running through discussions about the sport’s lack of popularity in the United States.

Well, the World Cup has done plenty to dispel that myth. Soccer isn’t some wonderful worldwide sport that we damn Americans just don’t get because we’re watching “lesser” sports like basketball, baseball, and real football. It stinks. It’s the most boring, mind-numbingly slow team sport using a ball that I’ve ever seen in my life.

My confidence in ripping this worldwide phenomenon comes from actually watching the United States’ game versus England. Not only was I bored beyond belief, everyone involved in the game seemed totally disinterested.

The game was largely played in the middle of the field, nowhere near scoring range. The one goal the U.S. team scored was so weak – a slow roller that any 10-year-old could have stopped – it would be hard to argue with the goalie if he offered the excuse that he lost focus because he was so bored. With 10 minutes left in the game the announcers seemed to think that it was a foregone conclusion that the game was going to end in a 1-1 tie, and the players gave every indication that they felt the same way.

And, oh, by the way, it would be nice if the announcers could make just the smallest of efforts to educate what the televising network has to be hoping and praying is a bunch of new viewers to soccer. When the referee blows his whistle and there is a change of possession for no apparent reason, that would be a great time for the announcers to stop babbling about the historic context of the game and explain what the hell just happened. (Ok, I made up the “historic context” part because I was barely conscious from watching the players basically volley the ball back and forth over the center line, but they certainly weren’t explaining why the whistle had blown.)

Despite my admitted lack of knowledge about the intricacies of the game after having watched maybe 10 hours of soccer in my life, it’s not so complex that I can’t see the obvious. The complete lack of urgency with 10 minutes left in the game with a tie score was absurd. In fact, the tie is now being celebrated as a victory for U.S. soccer, and the many other ties involving other teams are discussed in a similar manner.

It doesn’t require a soccer expert to realize that this just doesn’t make any sense. A basic vocabulary will suffice just fine, thanks. Ties aren’t victories, especially when they’re 1-1 ties on the weakest goal World Cup soccer will ever see and everybody just accepted the fact that the game would end in a tie when there was plenty of time left to score.

I know, I know, I don’t understand the landscape of soccer. Actually, I do, on the level that the United States lags behind most of the world, and tying a good team – which may be just about any team for U.S. soccer – is a step in the right direction.

But when people “in the know” talk about “playing for a tie” just to get through the opening round of the World Cup there’s something fundamentally wrong with the sport, or at least the most famous event in the sport. I don’t care if people think that’s simply an ignorant American viewpoint. I’ll wear the moniker proudly.

When the main thing that people want to talk about in regards to the World Cup is how annoying the incessant hum of the vuvuzelas are to the viewing audience, it says volumes about soccer – not Americans. And none of what it says is good.

In fact, if the South African audiences are so enamored with the sport, why are they focused on blowing those stupid horns throughout each game? It must take a hell of a lot of energy to keep those things going so constantly that the games sound like a massive swarm of bees is attacking the stadium.

I can’t see Eagles fans being busy with a novelty item during a game at the Linc. Maybe the real myth is that the world outside of the United States loves their futball. Maybe they’re showing up to protest this boring sport being thrust down their throats by trying to annoy everyone on the field.

Maybe they finally agree with Herman Edwards’ famous rant, “You play to win the game.” Even if they don’t, watching a game in which the players don’t seem to play to win until the very last second doesn’t make much sense to most Americans.

I’ll study a Da Vinci painting over watching a bunch of futball players going for a tie any day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with your points however the ratings have been very good for the WC so far. I have watched a total of 10 minutes.