Saturday, June 19, 2010

Soccer Popularity Strangely Absent--How Not Shocked Am I?

Soccer is not as popular in the United States as it is in other nations; this is not disputed by any rational adults.  Some people are horribly vexed by this dilemma, while others are able to easily list the reasons why.  Here's my couple of cents' worth.

A gentleman by the name of Steve McCarthy once wrote that soccer often gives the people of various nations hope, and presents realistic goals of achievement to youth everywhere (except our nation, of course).  Americans are culturally different in that regard.  Which sports do our kids fantasize about the most?  Basketball? Baseball? Football? The feel-good piece by McCarthy sings the praises of soccer, and does it well.  It doesn't really explain why we, as a nation, don't really care about soccer.

 A soccer blogger wrote about his exterminator not being interested in soccer because the U.S. doesn't excel at it.  He goes on to state that this is the norm:
Americans are extremely competitive and always want to excel in everything they do. So, rather than watch a sport where the US will not succeed, the exterminator (and presumably countless other Americans) want to watch something else, something they can win.
I think this guy is horribly misguided.  His bug guy might not be articulate enough to say that he just doesn't give a damn about what many of us find uninteresting, but that doesn't equate to "presumably" countless Americans only being uninterested because we're no good at it as a nation.  The failed logic of that one is glaring!

Another gentleman, by the name of Todd Pheifer writes about America's fascination with violence; I think he may be on to something, but I question some of the associations with European soccer clubs; what's the first thing you think of when someone mentions soccer in England?  Does the word start with an "h?"  It does for me.  American football is indeed violent by nature; is that the source of attraction?  I don't know, but I think not.  I know that there have been some amazing games that I've enjoyed that had no real "highlight reel" hits.  The level of competition between the teams, the dueling between the QB, WRs and opposing defenses, the ballet-like abilities of the RBs, these are the things that inspire football fans! The big hits will always make web gems, but they won't create new NFL fans.

American culture is different than most other nations in the world; this fact needs to be acknowledged by those that puzzle over things like soccer.  Why is NASCAR so popular?  What about baseball?  There's no real mystery over what's going to happen during a NASCAR race; the drivers are probably  going to turn left. If they turned right on some of those oval tracks, I'd probably tune in to that race (yes, I already know that they race on road courses once in a while).  Baseball?  It's slow, and only punctuated by brief moments of exciting action.  Watching a pitcher that puts away a large number of high BA players is fun for me.  Why?  Does my playing of baseball as a child cause me to be interested?  Do all NASCAR fans have a deep-seeded fantasy revolving around driving fast?  

To me, it's not a mystery that soccer is not popular.  I suspect that as youth soccer programs grow and more of those youth reach adulthood (or something close to it), soccer will continue to grow in popularity in our nation.  Just please stop claiming that because I lack interest in a certain sport, I must hate it.  Don't claim that because the U.S. doesn't perform well at it that I must not be interested for that reason; my football team doesn't do very well these days, but I'd still enjoy seeing a live Raiders game!  Stop telling me that I must refer to soccer as "futbol," "football," or whatever somebody is calling it this week; I just don't care.  You can call it hamster ranching, and I'll still not care to watch it. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Bold Statement about Our Society

I was poking around a social networking site today and saw someone's link about an upcoming "documentary" on ESPN.  Now, while I enjoy watching certain sporting events, I would hardly consider professional sports to be the nucleus, or center of gravity of our nation.  Some folks believe differently.

A friend of mine mentioned the date, which is the title of the film, mentioned O.J., and stated that he still remembers where he was that day.  I can vaguely recall thinking, why are people so fascinated with this?

Why indeed?  Why are so many people obsessed with the woes of celebrities?  Where is the outcry over being cheated?  By cheated, I mean that a large number of folks looked up to O.J. as some sort of role model; they then proclaimed that he cannot possibly be a murderer because he was quite good at playing football.  This reminds me of the heated cries of support for a wacko child predator; he couldn't possibly be a bad guy because he was once pretty darned good at singing and dancing.  

These public displays of misplaced loyalty and admiration are a disturbing indicator.