We’ve all seen the EPL on NBC ads. The execution is amusing and I did chuckle a bit. However, the undertone is depressingly similar to the lamestream “soccer as other” take. The premise is that soccer is “foreign” and thus we should dislike it. This is very similar to the “soccer as feminine” line of thought. Both attempt to depict the United States as a proudly nativist, robust heterosexual male who dominates all worthy endeavors. Soccer is foreign and feminine, and thus will “never catch on.”
I don’t give two shits if soccer goes mainstream. I love the sport. But, with your indulgence, I’d like to write as an abrasive talk show radio host and take the opposite angle on soccer and the US.
Soccer will fail in the US (to make it super big) and the reasons are clear:
First, increasingly cosmopolitan Americans are bored of soccer.
Soccer has been a part of the US sports landscape since the late 1890′s, and the US Football Association was founded in 1913. That is only ten years after the Wright brothers (American) created an impressive flying machine. The US lost to Canada in an unofficial soccer friendly around the same time Dr. Naismith invented and first played basketball. Soccer in the US thus pre-dates Television, wi fi, and hip hop. The US even participated in the first World Cup in 1930. They finished third. Soccer is basically Apple Pie.
Given this history, soccer is not cosmopolitan enough. The internet, free trade, and migration patterns show a great connection between folks of all countries. There’s more contact. There’s more communication. There’s more cultural sensitivity and understanding. That’s why most folks in the US absolutely, positively despise soccer and everything it represents. We are too cosmopolitan to follow a sport that has been in our own backyard since the late 1800′s. The World Cup is kinda nice, but really just a cash grab for FIFA.
Conclusion: soccer is stale. Soccer is old. Americans are sick of soccer soccer soccer. We want new, innovative and international sports like Mixed Martial Arts.
Second, soccer is too violent for Americans.
Soccer players have to wear more padding than golfers, basketball players, and international ping pong professionals combined. Why? Because all 22 players run around the field looking for one object: a tiny ball. That’s bound to generate conflict…and violence. This lack of protection is terrifying when you consider that each players skips about with tiny knives on the bottom of his feat, little nails known as “cleats.”
Soccer also suffers from concussions, and players have even passed away mid-game from heat exhaustion and heart complications. Americans love patriots who die for a revolutionary cause. We do not like our treasured overpaid athletes doing so though.
Conclusion: soccer is basically the unedited “Faces of Death” broadcast live to the bloodthirsty masses. Luckily, Americans have advanced beyond the era of bloodied and murdered gladiators awaiting the thumbs up or down at the Coliseum.
Third, soccer is too exciting for Americans.
How many times have you watched a thrilling 21-14 SEC college football game? Just for you folks weak with math, that’s five total touchdowns. Just this past week, FC Barcelona netted seven goals (including six in the first half). This points to a major problem with soccer: too much excitement, with most of it nonstop. Games are played in 45 minutes halves with no stopping, barring a serious injury.
Here’s the problem: when do American fans take their customary second quarter nap? Unlike American Football, when you can snag a beer or bag of potato chips during an extra point or kickoff, soccer only gives you one break to get food or take a leak. You have to, like, pay attention. And for a really really long time. 45 minutes is almost an hour, after all.
Conclusion: Soccer needs to follow the NBA and NFL and start using TV timeouts. Or they need to take a hacksaw to Leo Messi’s knee and stop scoring so many goals. Granted, a few Serie A 0-0 games resemble classic Big 10 slugfests (or the 7:3 variety). It’s a start. But it’s not enough…..