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America Will Never Love Soccer

July 29, 2011

A few days ago, the Women’s World Cup final ended in an amazing win for Japan. The American public cheered for five minutes and quickly moved on to bigger and better things. And in America there are always bigger and better things than soccer. First of all, I hate the word soccer but that’s what we call it in American English so it’s a force of habit and I am compelled to call it that, even if it leaves a bad taste. In my home we call it “futbol” the Spansh equivalent, depends where you’re from.

So since I have not written a blog in ages and essentially been a bad blog owner, today I will go over my opinion about how Americans will not fall in love with soccer. The main reason is that we suck at it! And here is why:

(Note, for simplicity sake I will call baseball, basketball and US football, the “Big 3”)

1) It’s a little kid’s sport in the US

In America, Saturday and Sunday mornings are made for what we call “pee-wee soccer”. Every parent dreams of having their kids play baseball, basketball, football (the American kind) and Hockey. But younger children need to do something “easy” and so the concept of pee wee soccer started. Kid soccer is actually a booming hobby for kids starting at 3 years of age and older and is seen as a good practice sport in which the children don’t know what the hell they are doing, the parents have no clue and the coaches are all fat failed clueless wannabe players (who for some reason all claim to support Manchester United and yet cannot name one player). This is a travesty where kids run around taping the ball in all directions but somehow both teams always win. That’s right, there are no losers in pee wee soccer. Then you have the parents who volunteer as coaches and have no clue themselves because all they want to do is go home and watch baseball.  In conclusion this is a mess. How will grown Americans ever take the sport seriously when it starts off so badly. I know in other countries children playing soccer is actually taken more seriously than this and the end result are grown players with experience who actually respect the sport and play for the  passion. Americans have their children play to keep the kids busy by having them run around in circles chasing after a yellow ball with pink smiley face designs  and feel good that they always win and never loose. For us, this is a kid’s sport. When children get older and play in the AYSO league they actually do compete for about two months out of the year and most of these kids join up other sports while the season is out.  For the rest of Americans, soccer is quickly abandoned when children are old enough to play “the real sports” which parents take more seriously. (smh)

2) Americans don’t like loosing

You probably have seen the quintessential and super cliche American sports film, we make plenty of those terrible films. It all begins with a team of “underdogs” that no one believes in. They train hard and make it to the end. The game starts and it doesn’t look good for them…oh wait but their Americans and America always wins because we are the best country in the entire universe! I’m being sarcastic but yes this happens in American movies and this is the mentality that all Americans have. We are Number 1, we are the best, USA USA #1, best country in the world etc… etc.. But wait, we are so great and yet how many tittles have the men’s US soccer team won? Oh no!!! This trows our USA #1 mentality out of the loop, we can’t take this kind of brain breaking reasoning. We are Americans so we MUST win!! Ok I’ll stop. I’m just making a point. Americans think they are #1 at EVERYTHING and yet with soccer we are not.

Baseball, Basketball and US Football are huge in America and for some reason all the world tittles of these games are  played by domestic teams. The Superbowl, for example, is the most important game every year. Everyone watches this and the entire nation stops for this game. Unlike the World Cup final, where two teams from different countries play against each other, the Superbowl has two teams from the USA. So, this is Americans VS Americans. It’s ok if team B looses because they lost to another US team, we’re still #1 no matter who wins. What I am trying to say is that in the big 3 US sports, Americans don’t have to worry about loosing the “USA #1 mentality” because these are US vs US teams. (Like the baseball “World Series” which is like the World Cup for baseball, is all US teams; so much for “world”

Also I would like to point out that soccer clubs compete with other soccer clubs from other countries unlike the US teams (LA Galaxy vs. Real Madrid this month). You just never see the big three US sports do this.

3) Americans want BIG

In America, everything is super sized. Out fast food meals are big, if you go to the gas station you can get a “Big Gulp” which is a huge drink of pure sugar soda. Our SUVs and trucks are huge. Our houses are huge, the streets are wide and yes, the people are getting bigger and bigger. It’s no surprise that our sports scores need to live up to our super sized expectations. The big 3 US sports do live up the expectations. Take a look at these typical scores:

Baseball 11 to 2. Basketball 100 to  109.  US Football 25 to 31….

Soccer: 2-0

In the US’s super sized world there is no excitement over a 2-0 score or a 1-1. A 5-1 happens but it just means it was an easy match against an unprepared team. 2-0 is like a party downer. Why cheer for 2-0 when you can go out in the streets and celebrate a 31 to 25 Superbowl win.

Let’s not forget the physique of the players. In Basketball the average height is 6ft 7″. The average weight for a US Football offensive tackle is 318lbs. And Baseball players always seem to have a pot belly weighing just under 200 lbs and hover over 6 feet. In soccer player height and weight range from country to country from tall to short…and apparently no one has even bothered to put up an average online (I tried looking but some players are very tall, others are average or short, depends on the country).

Americans want big and have a misconception that they cannot get this with soccer.

4) American Short Attention Span

For some reason, Americans tend to think that soccer is a boring sport, that players just pass the ball to one another. Well, I have seen Baseball and to me nothing can be more boring that baseball. In soccer everyone is running around, in baseball players only run to a base if the batter hits the ball. I was watching a baseball game at a player ready to bat and wow was it boring. Strike 1, Foul 1, Strike 2, Foul 2… it’s absolutely boring to be watching, and these games just seem to last for hours. Hockey is exciting, basketball is active and exciting as well, baseball is tedious. But at least I have given all these a chance! America does not want to give soccer a chance. They just say “boring” and skip to watching their batters hit strikes and foul balls for the next hundred thousand minutes of a game.

5) The “immigrant” sport

I have heard the American lovers of the big three sports act a little uncomfortable at soccer because it’s the sport that “immigrants” are making popular. This may sound silly but I have heard this before. It’s the “mexican” sport, we don’t like it, we like Football, not soccer”. Go figure!

I am going to sum up the points I am making.

Americans think soccer is boring, it’s not challenging when teams can’t win with 0-0 scores or with 2-1. There is no excitement over the MLS (Major League Soccer) no one can name a famous world wide American Beckham-like player (other than Donovan). There is no American Pele. There is no passion for the sport in America. The US sees soccer as the “whiny” sport where if someone hurts them the referee will give out a red or yellow card and the justice is served for little crying Johnny who was hurt.  But most importantly, in my opinion…soccer cannot be big in America because we don’t want to be displaced as number 1 and in soccer there will always be many countries that are much better than America. There are a growing number of US soccer fans and they are a pretty good movement, good sized but not super huge. They are and will be overshadowed by the Big Three. Some have advocated changing the name “soccer” to something more appealing…we’ll see how that goes.  In the mean time, this Sunday my team Arsenal will be playing the US team New York Red Bulls and I know who will win. I am willing to make a wager on it too there is no way Arsenal can loose. So help me!  I am willing to bet on my team, you just name the price ;-).

For example: Manchester United proves too much for MLS All-Stars article (yeah and everyone will beat the US MLS teams!)

Anyone whoever says Soccer is boring yet watches Baseball is delusional. And overall I believe America is afraid of investing fanship for a sport we will loose in. Even if America wins a world cup all Americans would do is say “yeah,  of course we won, we’re number 1 big deal” yet if the Dodgers win the world series, the Lakers win the playoffs, Americans would go to the streets to celebrate to the early hours of the morning.

And guess what, Americans can whine all they want about how soccer “sucks” “soccer is gay” “soccer is boring” well, the world LOVES soccer and the world does not give a F about the big 3 American games. Makes you wonder what does it matter what one country (that doesn’t have their big 3 play other countries) think.


Anyways here is a scene from The Simpsons which outlines the sentiment on soccer in America:

The Simpsons Soccer Riot! Here is the full version:

Click on the picture for the video or click on the link above

If you don’t want to click on the link, Youtube has the first few seconds of the clip :

King Of The Hill explains Soccer

  1. Great article!

    It’s a shame football (soccer) hasn’t taken off in the USA, and as you say, it doesn’t look like it will. If the transfer of David Beckham, Thierry Henry etc. to the MLS didn’t galvonise the country into becoming interested in the sport, I don’t know what will.

    Saying that, my team (Newcastle United) have recently returned from a tour of the USA and found it fairly difficult. We only won 1 game (Columbus), we drew against Kansas and were beaten off Orlando, but I think that was more down to the lack of fitness from our players (and the artificial pitch at Orlando) more than anything. The fans who did turn up to games seemed to treat it very differently that fans in Europe, throwing streamers onto the pitch during the game etc.

    I would really like to see the sport grow in the USA and compete with the traditional sports; however, I agree, it doesn’t look like it is going to happen anytime soon.

    Apologies for rambling on.

  2. Millie permalink

    You didn’t ramble on, you make sense! 🙂

    • Jonathan Shabbat permalink

      I disagree that Americans have a short attention span if they like baseball or US football. In baseball and US football, you need to think as each play is individual. In baseball, each pitch is seperate. In football, there is one play followed by a down or a score. If you have little attention span, you would like hockey, basketball, or soccer, where the puck/ball continuously moves and players skate/run over the rink/court/field continously. In football, the quarterback has to have a brain in addition to know how to play physically. The same goes with the pitcher in baseball and the batter in baseball. I played soccer for 5 years from 2nd-6th Grade at the JCC and my mom thought it was good that everyone plays and runs around at the same time. But then I also played basketball and baseball starting from 3rd Grade until 6th Grade. Then my mom said she saw that I liked baseball better. In baseball, individuals get a chance to hit and score while in the other sports it’s more of a combined team effort. I never scored in any of the soccer or basketball games I played in the JCC league. But I scored many times in baseball. In practice or in gym class or in the JCC Summer Camp, I scored in the other games but never in the leagues.

      • Jonathan Shabbat permalink

        Oh yeah, I remember many kids preferred to play soccer in the basball/soccer “major I was in in the JCC Summer Camp. We had minors in the afternooon. All other sports were alone but baseball and soccer were grouped together played in alternating days. So we had a counselor that showed professional soccer videos and the kids that preferred to play soccer weren’t interetsed in the videos but preferred to watch about professional baseball. It’s like what you said. Kids like to play it but don’t like to watch it on TV.

        I disagree what you said about Americans always winning. Baseball does have a World Cup played in the Spring every 4 years but most people don’t care about it. I watched the championsip game between Japan and Korea at Dodger Stadium on TV. So America wasn’t even in the game.

        Also, many of the MLB players come from Latin America. In additon to that, a Canadian team won the World Series twice (Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 vs. Atlanta Braves and in 1993 vs. Philadelphia Phillies.). Most of the players though were American or Latin American. American sports leagues bring the best players from the World. No one is claiming it to be an American national win. Just like soccer players in Europe can play for teams in other countries but if they play on a national team, it would only be for their own country.

  3. Jonathan Shabbat permalink

    There was also once a Montreal baseball team (Expos) but the MLB leadership was evil and turned them into the Washington Nationals. There was once talk of new times in Vancouver or Mexico. I think it would be cool to have more MLB teams outside of the US.

    Also, American teams usually win the NHL Stanley Cup now but most of the players come from Canada and Europe and was once a Canadian league, most of the teams are now in the US, even places where you wouldn’t think of ice, such as Phoenix or Texas where teams relocated from Winipeg and Minnesota.

    • Kevin permalink

      you do know that the expos went bankrupt right? fan support dropped, they kept losing, etc. so shut up and get your facts straight.

  4. Keith permalink

    I think you are spot on when you say Americans like things big. Most of our professional athletes are as big as we can get them. American sports seem to be dominated by the idea that the larger the size of a person directly relates to their competitive athletic ability and subsequently their acceptance in American sports.

    Soccer seems to level the playing field for the world in terms of height, weight, reach, speed, etc. You don’t need handicaps or weightclasses in soccer. I think this is one of the reasons it is a more regular international sport. Shorter, smaller-framed people have a harder time competing in the Big 3. There are vast differences in the general size of people from different areas of the world.

    The Big 3 are also sports invented here. We did not inject the idea of watering down these sports to make them fair for the whole world. They are simply American. We devote much of our time, energy, and emotions into admiring and playing them. It is no wonder why most of the world cannot compete with us in the Big 3.

    On the pace of sports in general, Soccer is very slow. Hockey has similar rules, but doesn’t lag near as much. I think I know why. Hockey’s ring is much smaller than an outdoor soccer field. Hockey only plays for a total of 45 minutes (if there is not sudden-death), instead of the bloated 90+ minutes in soccer. Hockey players move faster, the puck moves faster, and there is always the excitement of checks, high sticking, and fist fights.

    Soccer fails in all these categories compared to hockey even though they are so similar in terms of rules and scoring. After that is said, Hockey can and does compete in fanship and attention to the Big 3. Why not soccer?

    Baseball and golf can also hold the attention span of Americans. They may not be running all over the place, but if that is what the allure of soccer is, then more people would watch track and field. Back to baseball and golf. They’re a more thinking man’s sport: slow, methodical, precise, and sometimes explosive. Even in terms of “shots” made, at least in these sports we know that every time someone walks up to the plate or the tee something will actually happen. Soccer gives us no guarantee of anything happening.

    I think it’s because it is a national past time for us to like the Big 3. Mexico, Spain, etc. are born playing soccer. That’s nationally their favorite sport. England’s number one and two spectator sports are snooker and cricket. That doesn’t make sense to me, but to each his own. In the end I think soccer will never really be embraced nation wide in the U.S. We’ve got too much action happening in our own sports to wait 30 minutes for someone to attempt a goal.

  5. Hi Keith. I apologize I did not reply sooner. I agree with your post. I wish soccer were bigger in America but for some reason the general opinion is that it’s boring and sometimes people don’t score or end up with a 1-0 or 3-2 score whereas they get more excited over a 45-90 score in some other sport. The bigger the better in the USA, I guess.

    Thanks a lot for the comment 🙂

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