Reasons Americans Dislike Soccer
Dotson’s Note: Perhaps many of you do not remember, but the United States hosted the Men’s World Cup in 1994. The matches were played in the Rose Bowl, Pontiac Silverdome, Stanford Stadium, Giants Stadium, Citrus Bowl, Soldiers Field, Cotton Bowl, Foxboro Stadium & RFK Stadium. The primary international broadcast centers were Los Angeles, California and Dallas, Texas. Since I was working with the Cotton Bowl at the time, I was very involved in many aspects of the tournament and learned a lot more than I ever wanted to know about soccer. Here are some of the happenings that stand out in my and others’ memory.
The Group A match between the United States and Switzerland was the first ever to take place indoors, played under the roof at the Pontiac Silverdome. Victories against Colombia and the United States (in front of a crowd of 93,869*) were enough to see Romania through as group winners, despite a 4–1 hammering by Switzerland in between. The magnitude of that victory allowed Switzerland to move ahead of the United States on goal difference, although the hosts qualified for the second round as one of the best third-placed teams. Switzerland's 4-1 victory over Romania came nearly 40 years to the date of Switzerland's last World Cup victory, which was June 23, 1954 and that was also a 4-1 victory over Italy. The United States' 2-1 victory over Colombia was its first World Cup victory since June 29, 1950 when it upset England 1-0 in the 1950 World Cup. Following the tournament, Colombian defender Andres Escobar was shot dead on his return to Colombia, after his own goal had contributed to his country's elimination. After all…it’s only a game!
We don’t like Soccer Hooligans
The World Cup just finished...why doesn't much of America really care? The rest of the world seems to find the game wildly exciting, yet most Americans are indifferent at best, and downright loathe the game at worst, even though the media and a few soccer enthusiasts keep trying to convert us. So why is that?
First off, even the terminology is confusing to us Americans. The game isn't played on a “field”… for us dummies it’s really called "the pitch." We are told that “goalies” play hockey, that guy in front of the net picking his nose for most of the match is the "keeper." Also it seems silly that women worldwide immediately love all soccer players; if Quasimodo were a professional soccer player in Europe, even he would have a chance as a supermodel.
We Don't Know Any Songs
Watch any soccer game not being played in America, and you will surely notice the background track of fans loudly singing, chanting, and generally having a giant party in the stands. This doesn't happen just during important junctures of the game…it is nonstop. The rest of the world has learned that if you show up and just sit there and watch the game, the boredom will drive you to pluck out your own eyeballs to relieve the pain of watching.
By contrast, as an English friend of mine once brought to my attention, the only thing American fans can do in unison is chant "U-S-A" or "DE-FENSE". This lack of repertoire severely hampers our ability to actually enjoy attending a soccer game. And God knows there's no joy in actually watching the damn thing!
In a sport where a goal is scored about as often as a grand slam is hit in baseball, there is a lot of down time between moments of excitement. Without some other activity to keep things interesting, the experience can be akin to gathering to watch a chess match.
Soccer in America is a "Mom" sport
As soon as the moniker of "soccer mom" was created, all hope of soccer every becoming meaningful in the United States ceased to exist. There is no other way to drive exuberant young males trying to impress girls away than to have them playing a game that's name is directly associated with suburban housewives.
To show you how damaging this actually is, just look what happened to the sport of hockey after Sarah Palin referred to herself as a "hockey mom." Hockey is about the toughest damn sport in the world, kind of like MMA on the ice, except they get to carry sticks with them. Despite this, the sport was set back 50 years in the US when Palin made her little quip. Don't believe me? Here's the proof…they're playing games outside now! Some may say it's a marketing thing, but the fact is, even hockey has had to work hard to regain the tough guy image, resorting to playing outside in the dead of winter just to prove they're REAL men.
Soccer just doesn't have the same tradition of toughness as hockey. The thought of the team showing up in mom's minivan does nothing to further the cause. Throw in all the moms who coach, thinking soccer is a game that "soccer moms" invented, and what you have is a breed of players who are more interested in making sure their socks match their headbands than they do in playing the game. While a few manage to succeed through sheer intestinal fortitude, the majority that emerge from mom leagues and keep playing the game only do so after deciding they enjoy their soccer games more than their ballet classes.
Soccer Had Its Chance, and Missed It: In 1999, the Women's World Cup was held in the United States. Of course no one cared about this any more than they care about soccer in general, but during the title game, there was a moment that could have forever changed the course of soccer in the US.
During the final game, after scoring the winning goal, Brandie Chastain dropped to her knees and peeled off her shirt. Since this was a soccer game, and a women's soccer game at that, the chances that any heterosexual males over the age of 10 were watching are mind-bogglingly low. However, it was an opportunity, maybe the only opportunity, to turn the tide for all those poor little boys of soccer moms who are barreling down a path towards pink polo shirts and having a "partner" instead of a wife.
In fact, the chance existed, though slight as it may have been that the removal of Brandie's shirt could bring a whole new fan base to soccer. Sure, many of those fans would have been the creepy guys that eat dinner at the strip club, but at this point I'm thinking soccer will be grateful for even these guys.
Unfortunately, what was revealed when Brandi's shirt came over her head was a sports bra, not a nice pair of firm athletic tata's. Perhaps those with perverted minds are the only ones that would think a woman would run all over the place for 90 minutes while she flapped free, but if you're going to rip your shirt off, do it to expose something! So while men took the opportunity to catch a peak of the sports bra, it wasn't enough to generate the interest needed to watch another game. Men can watch girls in sports bra's jog down the street any day of the week.
*At the time this was the record attendance at a World Cup match.
Dotson’s Note: Did you/enjoy the World Cup? Your comments regarding this and/or any other Benchwarmers Blog will be greatly appreciated. Please call the Benchwarmers between 3 and 6 PM weekdays at 361-560-5397 or call or Email Dotson. Phone: 361-949-7681 Cell: 530-748-8475 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org