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. 


cary said...

"Hamster ranching?"


OK, I'm a fan of NASCAR because they go fast and turn left. In un-airconditioned cars. During periods of high heat and high humidity. For hours at a stretch.

Can you say endurance strength training? I knew you could.

And, because I am the son of a man who raced in his youth, and I myself raced in my youth. If I had been better, I would have been matching skills against people like Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, and Dale Sr.

I don't follow soccer because I never understood the game. I kinda understand hockey (skate around, follow the puck, throw off the gloves and THEN swing at the opposing team) and used to be a rabid fan of football; still follow baseball and like to watch a basketball game like game seven - talk about a close match up!). But soccer? How can you score a goal and have it rescinded by an official who does not have to explain his call?

Besides, in this country, we don't oppress the youth or deny those who want to work hard their chance to bask in their own achievements, unlike certain other countries who view futbol as the only way out of poverty because the dictator of the week won't let you hold a job above your caste ...

Just John said...

Well said, Cary. I think auto racing is still number one in viewership and attendance in our nation.

Gary said...

The thing about soccer is that it is played on an enormous field with long distance passes being constantly executed, so for the viewer to 'see' the game from home, the picture must always be wide screen with little detail. For a competition to be interesting, I must be able to see and understand the intricate details of the game. After 10 minutes or so of watching the ball being kicked and head-butted back and forth, and the ridiculous acting of the competitors attempting to draw a foul and be awarded a free kick, I too look for the weekly agricultural report for a real pick me up. Yawn.

As far as the 'Silver and Black', there is always hope for the subsequent season.

Happy Father's Day, John.

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

For me and, I suspect, the bulk of the country it's as simple as this:

I find soccer to be brain-glazingly BORING.

- The field on which they play is HUGE.

- It takes anyone about two years to run at full tilt from one end of the field to the other.

- Just when a play gets going it gets disrupted.

- You can play for 30 years and only score ONE POINT.

- You can actually have a TIED GAME. WTF??



Casser said...

Yeah, I've a comment. As an avid soccer fan...I don't care that you don't care about soccer. What's your persecution complex all about.
Soccer fans already have most of what they want already in the US ie coverage of games. World Cup Champions League, European leagues etc.
So go knock yourself out watching boring old whatever the hell it is you watch.

Casser said...

And, oh yeah, for those who say Americans aren't interested in soccer because it's too low scoring.
Low score equals suspense. That's why we don't do Christmas everyday. Or eat candy all day long. Or keep throwing people surprise parties. There is more tension if the "goal" is rare. More like diamonds, less like Hersheys. The only part of a basketball match that counts is the last 4 minutes. Baseball = snoozeball. American Football = Commercial-break heaven. Hockey = Well, actually it's a cool sport. Anyway, have fun watching you sports (you might want to bring a good book with you, though.)

Just John said...

Well, you just proved my point for me about soccer fans; thanks!

kris said...

lol I was never a soccer fan while I lived in the states and thought it was a girls' game.

I can walk to the Arsenal stadium but didn't get interested in it until I realised that a few of my friends were big fans. I started watching the matches, getting into the rivalries and singing the songs. I'm now into it.

The USA team did punch above its weight at the World Cup, but they are not brilliant. They are however improving and this is probably due to some of the USA players breaking into the English Premier League.

But as for "stop/start" that is American football!

ayumi said...
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Lee Shin said...
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poznaninmypants said...

Those who are not interested in soccer are not particularly relevant to soccer.
It doesn't tickle your fancy? No problem.
We have already passed the tipping point in popularity, with or without your involvement.
In fact, it's kind of cool that we got there without The Traditional American Sports Fan's support. Why? Because you'd only want to change the sport. More scoring. Wider goal posts. Change what every is called. Use commentators you already feel comfortable with. Dump those foreign sounding guys. More "soft profiles of athletes" for the clueless. More beer and hot dog breaks. Bigger seats for your lard asses. And on and on and on.
We didn't need you to get to this point where every football match (soccer to you) was shown every weekend across the multitude of cable channels from leagues around the world.
And we don't need you going forward.
In fact. I would say, we don't "want" you going forward. Things are developing very nicely.
We are as popular as we need to be and getting more popular every year.
It is truly your losss. We're fine over here.
But we WILL be stealing your children. Sorry!
You want to watch American Football instead? Knock yourself out (All those concussions should help, sadly.)
It's all good. You're happy. We're happy. And we're getting more numerous by the day.

Just John said...

@poznaninmypants: You're an idiot. Did you bother to read the entire post? I suspect that you simply got butt-hurt by the title, and decided to air out your stereotypes. Typical soccer fan, proving my points for me. Good job.