The Key to Growing Soccer In America

Why Ann Coulter and many others hate the beautiful game and what it will take to get people to love it in America
by Roy Rosell   |   Wednesday, July 09, 2014

US Soccer Federation (USSF)

“Wow! Did you see Tim Howard’s 16 saves against Belgium? AMAZING!” proclaimed the man who had never seen a soccer game prior to the start of the 2014 World Cup. 

“Yes, a sight to see! And how about Neymar getting kneed in the back? That was a horrid foul!” replied the woman who has grown up playing and loving the sport.

Everyone is talking about the World Cup. From die-hard fans to clueless observers, everyone is talking about lowly minnows Costa Rica winning the Group of Champions, world powerhouses Spain, England, Italy, and Portugal being eliminated in the first round, and passion-driven USA taking sweet revenge over dream-killers Ghana by advancing out of the Group of Death.

Even more shocking has been the way the US viewing public has reacted to this tournament.  According to Bloomberg, “the US loss to Belgium in the round of 16 on July 1, late afternoon on a Tuesday, drew 21.6 million viewers, 16.5 million on ESPN and 5.1 million on Univision, the second-highest total for a men’s soccer telecast in US history. It trailed only the US team’s 2-2 tie with Portugal on Sunday, June 22, which averaged 24.7 million viewers -- 18.2 million on ESPN and 6.5 on Univision.” Compare that to a record breaking 6 million viewers for the Stanley Cup Final (which was played on a weekend as opposed to weekday afternoon).

These numbers don’t take in to consideration the millions of viewers that packed bars, parks, beaches, stadiums, city streets, warehouses, alleys, rooftop hotel parties, and backyard BBQs throughout the country to take in the Greatest Show on Earth. Neither does it count the millions of office workers who nervously watched the games from the phones on their laps, nor the millions of others who watched from their work computers and quickly switched to excel spreadsheets as bosses passed by.  

Simply put, the country has been fully enthralled in the 2014 World Cup and whether or not the sport will be able to retain the interest of the newly soccer crazed enthusiasts for the years between World Cups is beside the fact that interest and love for the game has grown and will continue to do so.

But with this drastic rise in support comes an equally drastic rise in hate and many times, the hate seems to overwhelm the love. The most quotable came from conservative columnist Ann Coulter when she said that “any growing interest in soccer can only be a sign of the nation's moral decay.” She later went out to proclaim that one of the reasons she hates soccer is because in American football, players have died of heat stroke and “the only risk of death in a soccer game is when some Third World peasant goes on a murderous rampage after a bad call.”

After Googling “soccer sucks,” I’m disappointed to discover and share that she is not alone- not by a long shot.  Let’s check out a few highlights from my quick search:

 “Seriously unless your in some $%^hole third world country or a %$^ European that sport just bites the root!”  - Anonymous

“Just like we were right in fighting the Nazis, we are right in despising soccer, and we need to be the proverbial beacon on the hill showing the world their error. Soccer is perhaps hands-down the worst sport possible out there” – KJ Segall

“Further proof that soccer is a game for girls: Since my column came out, a guy from the Paraguay team (Uruguay? Who cares?) was caught biting an opponent in a match. Not punching. Not a cross-body block. BITING! How long can it be until we see hair-pulling in soccer?” – Ann Coulter

“I f$&^ing hate soccer and World Cup its boring” - Anonymous

“Flopping is a rite of passage in soccer, like never stopping the clock and deciding championships on trivial mini-games” – Kels Dayton

 “Soccer shouldn't really be called soccer (or as you foolish Europeans insist on calling it football, when that name is already taken). It should really be called flopping-actingball” – Anonymous

“During the 2008 World Cup, I was traveling all over Europe and did my best to get into the spirit of the game. While I was very successful when it came to getting into the drinking part of soccer fandom, I just couldn’t stir up the passion for the games we were watching. Now, after some deep soul-searching, I have realized why: Soccer sucks” - Diana (Sports Biotch).

Ignore the likelihood that Ann Coulter would probably put her finger on Mexico when asked to point out South America on a map, or that Diana the Sports Biotch cluelessly meandered around Europe DURING THE 2008 WORLD CUP.  Just put aside the likelihood that upon asking any of these people to elaborate what the difference between a corner kick and a foul is, or to tell you how many players are on the field, or to explain what a free kick is, they’ll escape their confusion by running off to the comfort of their keyboards and babbling away about how much they hate ties and how they can’t believe people like watching players just run around for like 100 minutes or however long a soccer game is.

I can put together a 500-foot long scroll with quotes, articles, memes, and discussions dedicated to bad-mouthing soccer. From confusion surrounding lengths of games, the offside rule, and flopping; to low scoring, excessive running, and hand-use restrictions, you can find an endless quantity of these anger-fueled tirades. But there’s always a single underlying theme behind all of them: Ignorance. 

I don’t understand the sport of cricket. I don’t comprehend the rules, the format, or anything about the game for that matter. In my eyes, I see a guy throwing a ball, a guy with a paddle trying to hit that same ball, and a bunch of other people standing around without any real purpose.

With that being said, you won’t hear me saying that cricket is boring or that I hate cricket because even though I may have a general idea of how the game is played, I don’t have enough to give an educated opinion as to why the sport is good or bad. It’s like a 4-year old reading George Orwell’s 1984 and deciding they hate books.

Now I do understand baseball. I played for about 12 years, watched countless games growing up, learned about the players and their stories and the structure of MLB and the rest of what needs to be known. And I can say, after 12 years of playing, watching, studying, learning the rules, the players, and the teams, that I don’t really like baseball. But I’m not going to go on a rant about how f%$^ing boring baseball is and how I rather stare at a strobe light than sit and watch a 5-hour, 13-inning snorefest with corny in-stadium videos and forced chants that ends in a no-hitter for one team and 1 home run for the other.

Why? Because baseball is a great sport and there are several reasons why millions of people adore it and why the love for the game continues to get passed down from generation to generation. And how do I know that? Because I learned about the sport and developed an opinion as opposed to watching one game, being clueless as to what the hell was happening, and deciding to write a 5-page piece about how stupid baseball is.

I’m all for everyone speaking their mind, but for those of you who feel the need to put down the sport that is treated almost like religion by billions around the world (and pissing off everyone as you do it), try to follow these two simple life guidelines that we should all live by:

- Don’t talk about how much you hate Europe because of your 3-hour layover in Paris.

- Don’t say a sport that people love is boring to avoid saying you don’t understand it- put some effort to learn it and give an educated opinion.

We can replace goals with touch zones, eliminate the offside rule, hire more lenient refs, add commercial breaks every time the ball goes out of bounds, use clocks that count down, and just give Americans credit for inventing the sport in order for people to adopt it.

Or, we can help people understand the sport as it is, take them to a match, and let them formulate their own educated opinions then. 

Roy ROSELL

Nationality:
USA
College:
Cal Poly Pomona
Club Domestic:
LA Galaxy
Club Foreign:
Arsenal
Absolute fanatic, especially passionate about MLS and it's growth. LA Galaxy columnist with no filter and a knack for the controversial. Travelled the world watching soccer matches, but there's no place like home.
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