With the World Cup upon us, I think I know why Americans do not like football.er, soccer, no football. I intend to keep an international tone throughout this piece, since we seem to be failing miserably as a country in that department.
First off, Americans love scoring, unless you are watching the heralded Brazil versus the Pleasanton Ballistic under-7 match-up, you are not going to see much of it.
However, goals do not necessarily constitute action. I believe soccer resembles baseball in the realm of American sports, not because it is perceived as slow, but because underneath the mind-numbing inactivity, a torrent of strategy and gamesmanship exists.
The nuances that draw people to baseball are omnipresent in football. Passes set up other plays. Defenders play dangerously forward, daring a speedy striker like France’s Thierry Henry to make a run without going offside.
The skill level at the World Cup level is astounding. Picture the World Baseball Classic as what it was supposed to be, players fighting to represent their country, not being asked to do so.
The result is a tournament that features unparalleled competition and skill. I don’t know if Americans realize it, but soccer is kind of a big deal in the rest of the world.
For lack of many leather-bound books, or smelling of rich mahogany, football has managed to capture the world’s imagination, while it has maintained the level of youth sport in this country. As Larry the Cable Guy would say, “If it aint big here, it aint big!”
While many Americans are wondering why roofs are slanted, people from the other five inhabitable continents are making up ridiculous excuses to miss work so they can watch Togo and South Korea battle each other.
It’s not that I think Americans are too dumb to appreciate football, quite the contrary. I think we should be apt to accept a sport that can be played anywhere, by anyone, a sport that requires equal parts precision and aggression.
How cool is it that Angola got the chance to play Portugal, a country that dominated it for hundreds of years? What other sport would you see that?
Football is the victim of preconceived notions in this great country. For example, many red-blooded American men, (the primary sports demographic, sorry ladies), see an admitted metrosexual like David Beckham take a flop in the box, and it begins to look like a sissy sport.
Those who criticize Beckham should also appreciate his deadly skill on free kicks and crosses. If that is not manly enough, consider that the guy puked after his last match, I can appreciate that. Despite the manicures and facials, his wife is hot.
Don’t get me wrong, I played football (Americano) during high school, and there is nothing like being hit at full speed by somebody with 20 pounds of “pads” on, it feels like a car crash.
My roommate played soccer during high school; we often joust verbally, as to which sport is tougher. He maintains that soccer is a non-stop 90-minute football game with no pads.
I don’t agree with him all the way, but anyone who saw Brian McBride get his head gashed open as if he was George W. Bush after an altercation with a pretzel can see his point. Stop me before I sub-reference again.
The point is, give the Cup a chance. Even if you know nothing about soccer, just watch how crazy people go when they score a goal. It’s pure joy, no sharpies no cell phones, it is for country, for pride, it is everything sports should be, and it only comes around every four years, so pay attention.