I’m never going to understand the worldwide infatuation with soccer. Call me closed-minded. Call me “boorish”. Call me a “dumb American” if you wish. There is something ridiculously uninteresting about soccer to me.
Typically, when I encounter subject matter I don’t particularly care for, I simply let it lie. There are most likely several million topics of conversation in the world that I have simply no interest in involving myself with. Usually, soccer is one of these. But, with the World Cup taking center stage in the sports world, it’s hard to ignore the sport.
First off, let me start by saying that I like the idea of the World Cup. I like the idea of any event that allows numerous countries to compete against one another. I support anything that can bring multiple races and cultures together for a common interest. Whether it’s the Olympics, the World Baseball Classic, the World Cup, or even the International Lumberjack Games, I support the idea.
What I simply don’t like about the World Cup, and soccer in general, is the arrogance that tends to accompany most American fans of the game. The typical United States soccer fan is a pompous jerk.
You know the type. He’s the guy who had the little patch of hair under his lip in college, who later was the first to shave his head as an expression of style. He’s the guy who drove a Volkswagen Jetta because of it’s efficiency. He’s the guy who always had some obscure answer to the “What’s your favorite song?” question, and he’s the guy who smoked Dunhill cigarettes, but only when he didn’t have the time to roll his own.
And now, with the World Cup in full swing, he is — for once — an authority on sports.
I was asked by one such acquaintance of mine during the last World Cup what the score was to a particular game that was being played.
“Two – nothing, Spain.”, I responded.
The response I received to the answer I’d given was priceless. It best sums up why soccer will never challenge any of the four major U.S. sports (and probably NASCAR) for attention.
“George… It’s NOT ’two – nothing’. It’s two-NIL.”
The score was 2-0. If that same score is described in just about any other sport, it’s just as acceptably described as “two-nothing” as it is ”two-zip”, “two-oh”, “two-to-nothing”, or as they say in Philadelphia, ”two-da-nuttin’”. The fact that this so-called “soccer fan” felt the need to correct me in such a condescending manner was enough for me to understand exactly WHY soccer doesn’t have the same appeal in the US as it does elsewhere.
The simple reason is because soccer fans in the US are arrogant. Soccer fans don’t want to teach us the game. In the US, soccer enthusiasts think we owe their game something. Soccer in the US is an elite club that is only elite to its’ members.
For a considerable number of years, all we’ve heard about soccer is how popular it is everywhere else. Every year, millions of kids begin playing soccer, and millions more most likely stop playing soccer. Every four years, the world goes into a frenzy over the World Cup. Nationally, it takes a spotlight, and terms like “vuvuzela” become the focus of the sports world. American soccer enthusiasts reign over the sports world, telling tales of it’s global popularity and the viral effect it is soon to have in the United States.
The funny thing is, the visions of soccer’s invasion into the hearts and homes of the United States never come to fruition.
Soccer will never ascend to the heights of popularity that the NFL, MLB, NBA, and even NHL possess. Much like bobsledding, figure skating, and the pole vault, soccer is an interesting event for a short period of time.
For the millions of casual sports fans across the country, the World Cup can be an exciting event. Enjoy the competition, the traditions, and the sound of bees. It makes for some great entertainment.
For the thousands of American soccer “diehards” — enjoy your time as an expert. Smoke your Dunhills, wear your colorful jerseys with the royal embroideries, and listen to The Smiths.
But, please — for the love of the Queen — stop trying to force-feed it to the rest of us. Once the World Cup is a memory, obscurity will once again reign over the soccer world.
The chances of it becoming what you have forever envisioned it being are, well, “nil”.
Let’s be honest, though, you like it that way.