It’s Not Cool to Hate Soccer Anymore

America has a long history of scoffing at soccer. Things are slowly changing, although trolls still use tenuous reasons to rationalize the hate against the international sport.

If you haven’t heard, the World Cup is happening right now. It’s been pretty great so far, actually, with the US team exceeding expectations. Also, because it’s all being hosted by Brazil, we’ve been seeing a lot of commercials featuring Adriana Lima. Thank you, soccer.

 

The most surprising thing about this is how many Americans have been watching the international tournament. The United States has a reputation for really hating soccer. The reasons behind that range from reasonable to completely dubious.

And, as usual, there have been the usual trolls – I mean, detractors – cautioning against the popularity of soccer here in the US.

Two names that come to mind are Ann Coulter and Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe.

Generally speaking, I don’t really care if another person hates something as trivial as a sport. I don’t really like baseball that much, nor do I pay much attention to sports at the collegiate level. People don’t mind and I respect them for that.

I also respect people who don’t like soccer, mostly because that’s a fair belief to have. I also respect them because I didn’t like soccer for years, until maybe a one year ago.

Here’s the thing: I tried to figure out why I didn’t like soccer, and I realized the biggest reason was simply because so many other people didn’t like it. I had no valid reasons. It was just a popular opinion and I naively went along with it.

Once I actually watched soccer, it became a beautiful thing for me. It’s filled with the geometry and angles of tennis. It takes real skill to do all that stuff with your feet, especially in a world where many of us trip over ourselves just by walking. Perhaps the most impressive thing about soccer is the amount of conditioning a person needs to play.

In basketball and (American) football, there are a load of timeouts and required stoppages of play for commercial breaks. Yet basketball and football players must be conditioned to play at a consistently high level.

Well, in soccer, there are barely any timeouts and there are no commercials at all (or only a little). Basically, players play for ninety minutes straight and stop only when there are injuries, or if something like a penalty kick is being set up. But even those don’t eat up much time.

I don’t think people argue whether soccer is a sport or not, but people who say it isn’t are clearly wrong. It’s not a matter of opinion. Soccer is clearly a sport.

But that’s only a trivial detail here.

Now, while I have respect for soccer detractors, I do have to point out flaws in their logic because there’s nothing like a good debate.

Let me just say from the beginning that I will not be addressing Ann Coulter’s opinion that the popularity of soccer is equivalent to moral decay. She’s being skewered by everybody for that – and deservedly so – so I really don’t need to help kick her ass.

Instead, I will be focusing on the more reasonable criticisms of soccer:

  • There is not enough scoring. Too many games end in a tie.
  • Players are too soft. They fake injuries way too much. The flow of the game gets killed.
  • Ninety minutes of continuous play is impressive, but for the viewers it’s not so great.
  • Not being able to use hands is a real killer because hands are a big deal. Or something.

Scoring

I think scoring is relative. Baseball is also a very low scoring game… compared to football. Yet, football is a low scoring game… compared to basketball. So what? Does that mean basketball is the most entertaining game to watch? No (well it is to me).

I would think the low scoring actually adds to the suspense. The outcome is that much more unpredictable because one goal can mean all the difference. It’s not like football or basketball where points can come in bunches from both teams on the field.

There’s a reason why soccer fans (and players and coaches and everybody ever) get so hyped when a scoring opportunity emerges – they know they should never take those for granted.

Never take it for granted!!!

Never take it for granted!!!

Faking Injuries

I don’t really have an argument against this particular criticism of soccer. It really is an annoying trait and what makes it worse is when guys like Luis Suárez decide to bite other players.

The fake injuries are horrible in soccer and some of the intentional injuries are just as egregious. Having said that, there are people out there who don’t like soccer solely because of the fake injuries.

That’s fine, I guess, if you also choose to hate any other sport for a relatively minor reason. If you also hate basketball because of flopping, or you hate football because of bullying, then I think you can hate soccer for the fake injuries. Otherwise, it’s just something you live with.

There is no perfect sport, and it’s unreasonable to expect that from soccer specifically.

Ninety Minutes

This is actually somewhat related to the lack of scoring, but mostly this is people complaining about the lack of breaks. How can they go to the bathroom if there are no commercials? Whatever will they do?

Surely they can’t just go anyway. It’s not like we live in a world of constant social media or anything. Besides, if goals are so rare, you might as well risk the probability of a goal going in during the thirty seconds you’re gone. I mean, is this really a valid argument against watching a sport?

No Hands

This category is dedicated to Dan Shaughnessy for his asinine belief that the ability to use hands is somehow directly correlated with the quality of a sport.

This guy actually had the nerve to ask how we would know the glory of guys like Larry Bird if they weren’t allowed to use their hands. Um, I’m pretty sure that goes the other way too. How would you know the greatness of guys like Lionel Messi if they didn’t play soccer?

How would you know anything if that thing did not happen? What a dumb argument.

Besides, if the exclusion of body parts is such a big deal, maybe they should allow basketball players to dribble with their feet. Why have a kicked ball violation at all?

Just ridiculous.

If anything, having to use just your feet (and your body technically) is a testament to how skillful a person needs to be to succeed at soccer at the highest level. Really, if you can’t use your feet, you can’t play the sport.

It’s not like basketball where there’s a ton of guys who can’t shoot in the NBA. Think about that for a second. You can succeed in the National Basketball Association without being able to shoot the ball into the hoop, which is like the main point of the game.

Really, all of the reasons above are a pretty poor excuse to completely hate soccer. If you don’t like watching it? Fine. But insulting a sport and calling it “gay” or whatever is really immature.

Honestly, I think people who use excuses like the ones described above are people who have never actually watched the game. I know this because I used to say soccer sucked because the scores were low and the players were all sissies. Of course, I really had a lot of credibility because I never watched a game until very recently.

Whatever. I mean it really isn’t that big of a deal, but people should try having their own opinions for once. Don’t just follow what everybody else says.

Of course, now that soccer is becoming more and more popular on a professional scale, I guess many members of the American public will “suddenly” find themselves enjoying the game. Okay then.

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