Want to give yourself an aneurysm? Want to feel a blind, all-consuming urge to destroy another human being with your bare hands boil through your veins? Cruise over to this article by Stephen Webb, entitled “Why Soccer is Un-American”, and give it a read. I’ll wait.
Okay, disclaimers first. I don’t know Stephen Webb’s background, but given what I read in this article I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’s one of these more-or-less-lunatic-fringe right wingers that LOVES AMURIKA and wouldn’t piss on the rest of the world if it was on fire. Seriously, there is so much anti-everything-but-America in this article that I actually vomited a little bit of red, white, and blue after reading it. Just a little bit. I also don’t know what an article about soccer is doing in a magazine like Politico, which I don’t read regularly, or in fact ever, but I imagine it’s just one of those topical pieces to fill space in a periodical — hey, we have some space to fill, the World Cup is going on, let’s write about that! Not that I would know ANYTHING about that on this blarg. Ahem.
So, in this article, Webb lists a litany of reasons why soccer hasn’t caught on in the US, arguing from the standpoint that sports are “a reflection of national character and aspirations,” which I’ll grant is in a lot of ways true. But basically, after that first sentence, he deconstructs soccer and our nationalism (the way he sees it) in ways which are frankly bordering on certifiable. When I first read it, I thought the whole thing was a gag piece, until I read the disclaimer that he himself printed at the bottom which states that the entire article is “non-ironic” except for the ADHD study that he completely made up. Let’s just start there. You can’t write a serious piece, one meant to be taken seriously and read intellectually and, presumably, to have a discourse had over it, and then just invent a fake study as one of your supporting points. Okay? You just can’t. But we’ll come to that in time.
Here, then, is a summation his arguments as to why soccer isn’t taking off in the US, and why they are so ridiculous, so insane, so bat-sharknado, poop-flinging crazy that if you read Politico unironically, you should rethink your life decisions which have led you to this point.
- There is not enough violence and aggression in soccer to satiate our national bloodlust. Okay, bloodlust was my word, but it’s certainly implied. In short, he claims that we love sports like (American) football for the innate violence and aggression that the sport demands. Two things. First of all, uh, that’s insane. We love sports because they’re violent? Sure, (American) football has its share of warlike, pound-your-neighbor-into-a-pulp-for-no-good-reason behavior, but baseball? Basketball? I’d argue that soccer is at least as violent, with the potential for injuries as significant if not more so. Which is the second point. These guys (soccer players) are running around a field at top speed with feet flying everywhere wearing virtually no protective gear. Watching the game, I don’t know how any of the players escape without at least a rolled ankle; compound fractures of the shinbone seem more likely. How is this not violent enough for us? STUPID x1.
- The game is about preventing goals rather than scoring them. Sorry, but no. American sports are just the same. In (American) football, it’s oft-stated that the best offense is a good defense. There’s a huge premium put on preventing the other team’s scores. Heck, look at this year’s Super Bowl, where the #1 offense (Denver) met the #1 defense (Seattle). It wasn’t even close; Seattle embarrassed Denver through superior defense. And baseball? Yeah, sorry. Who’s the most important person on the field during a baseball game? If you said anybody besides the pitcher, hook up some jumper cables to your nipples and try again. What’s the pitcher’s job, again? Oh, that’s right, TO KEEP THE OTHER TEAM FROM SCORING. Saying that soccer is a defense-oriented sport and that’s why Americans don’t like it is as idiotic as saying that fat-free potato chips are better for you than the regular kind. You’re fooling yourself. STUPID x2.
- Soccer minimalizes the performance of the individual. This is getting a bit broken-record here, but let’s look again at American sports. Football. Is one man responsible for the victory or defeat of his team? No. Baseball? Ehhhhh… maybe you could say the pitcher is, but it’s a stretch. Basketball? I don’t care how good LeBron is, if he doesn’t have competent teammates he’s not winning anything. They’re all team sports, and typically the best team wins. Sharknado, look at my hometown Atlanta Falcons. We’ve got some excellent players, but last season, we were one of the worst teams in the league. Individual performances do not success make. THAT SAID, shut up. Soccer teams have stars. Pele? Ronaldinho? I didn’t even follow soccer and I knew those names. STUPID x3.
- Kicking a ball is not as precise as hitting or throwing it. Oh my god. It’s getting really bad now. Seriously? Okay, deep breath. AMERICAN FOOTBALL. Kicking the ball is a major goldfingered part of the game, precisely because you lose control when you kick it. You know what you gain? RAW FARGOING POWER (see #1). They offer points for a field goal because it’s not easy to kick a ball with control through a set of uprights thirty or forty yards away. And hitting? Uh, nope, wrong again. If hitting were precise the scores for baseball games would be in the double digits every game. And has Webb been watching these World Cup matches, or any professional soccer matches ever? Tell me there’s no precision in the way those guys can kick. Are they perfect? Of course not. Does luck play a role? YES, JUST LIKE IN EVERY OTHER SPORT EVER. STUPID x4.
- He made up a study about why soccer is basically only appealing to people with ADHD. Because watching the ball bounce back and forth stimulates the “lesser humans” in a way that “sophisticated sports” doesn’t. Seriously. He said that. It’s so idiotic I can’t even dissect it. STUPID x5.
Sorry, Stephe. Five strikes and you’re out.
There’s more, of course. He talks about how the sport is “socialist” because of the low scores and the way that nobody really stands out. About how scoring is an accident rather than by design. And okay, okay, I get that this is an opinion piece, and just like buttholes, everybody has opinions. Also, this is the internet, so everybody (even me!) can share his opinion just as easily as the next guy, no matter how stupid it is. The problem I really have with this article is not that Webb (obviously) hates soccer: hates it so passionately that it’s not enough for him not to watch it, he wants you not to watch it either (narcissist). The problem I have is that he takes all this, all his idiotic mouth-foaming ill-informed illogical hate and then goes and makes it political.
Don’t like soccer? That’s fine. But it’s no less American than any other sport, certainly not for any of the reasons he’s listed. And it’s not a lesser sport, no matter how you slice it. It’s just not popular in America, and do you know why? Because we’re not exposed to it. Check the statistics. Viewership for this World Cup is through the roof and breaking records left and right because the sport is compelling to watch. Why have we not been exposed, then? BECAUSE ADVERTISERS CAN’T PUT ENOUGH OF THEIR BRIGHTLY-COLORED PSYCHO-VOMIT INTO YOUR FACE DURING A MATCH. Seriously. That’s it. There are no breaks during a match except for halftime, and that means no ads. No ads means no money, and no money means the networks aren’t showing it.
The only way soccer is Un-American is that it isn’t peppered with two-minute breaks for you to get off your donk and go get another beer or tray of chips or buffalo wing. You know, during the time-out or the pitcher substitution or the instant replay review or the inning change or the scoring time-out or the offense/defense changeover or the injury time-out or the rain delay.