Home / football / They hate soccer <em>and</em> are racist.

They hate soccer and are racist.

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Jonah Goldberg wrote something stupid. It feels like I never left. So what was it this time?

I am willing to concede that some conservatives get carried away in their anti-soccer tirades, usually just for fun, but I’d very much like to see a few more liberals admit that at least some of the soccer-mania here in the states is driven by a faddish desire to seem hip and worldly.

He’s clearly only talking about white people—and not white people like me, as I’m so attached to my Sambas I once wrote a paean to them. Now, I live in a predominantly Hispanic community—largely first and second-generation Mexican immigrants—and during the South Africa-Mexico match, I noted that I

considered it odd that everyone on Facebook is rooting for South Africa, because me and everyone else in my apartment complex are clearly rooting for Mexico. If I didn’t have to grade while half-watching, I’d be in the rec room with the rest of the complex, by which I mean: my neighbors, the gardeners, the pool guys, the cleaning women, and the office staff.

Of course, every single one of those people is clearly an illegal immigrant in Goldberg’s mind, but that’s a failure of imagination on his part. He’s unable—or, more likely, unwilling—to accept that the demographic shift in the United States is against him. When he writes:

But being told that all the smart and decent people love something is a sure way to get the Irish up in a lot of Americans.

He does so because he’s incapable of imagining an American who lacks any Irish to get up.

Moreover, he mistakenly believes that the article that started him on his anti-soccer tirade argues that “Racists Hate Soccer,” when it does nothing of the sort. (Though there is an incidental connection, as noted in my title.) He even quotes the very paragraph in which the author, Dave Zirin, argues conservative soccer-hatred is not about racism, but losing:

But maybe this isn’t just sports as avatar for their racism and imperial arrogance. Maybe their hysteria lies in something far more shallow. Maybe the real reason they lose their collective minds is simply because the USA tends to get their asses handed to them each and every World Cup.

I can imagine no better support for this argument than the fact that every four years conservatives are tremendously excited about sports infinitely more boring than they think soccer is, e.g. competitive swimming. Because so long as there is a chance for them to flex their patriotic muscles by proxy, conservatives will embrace a sport. As Zirin notes, the existence of countries like Brazil and players like Messi prohibit them from doing so.

But, to circle back to where this post started, Zirin’s article itself is a response to Glenn Beck’s comment that

It doesn’t matter how you try to sell it to us, it doesn’t matter how many celebrities you get, it doesn’t matter how many bars open early, it doesn’t matter how many beer commercials they run, we don’t want the World Cup, we don’t like the World Cup, we don’t like soccer, we want nothing to do with it.

If Goldberg really wants people not to consider him in league with racists, he needs to explain how Beck’s “we” is inclusive enough to accommodate my soccer-mad neighbors. If he can’t—and he can’t—then he has to admit, to paraphrase what David Cross said of Irvine Spectrum when he performed there, that his imagination contains all the colors of the rainbow from white … to white.

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  • Holden Pattern

    But being told that all the smart and decent people love something is a sure way to get the Irish up in a lot of Americans.

    This as part of a pro-nativism screed is… astonishing in its obtuseness.

  • Michael

    As a soccer-hating liberal, this whole thing makes me sad. Why can’t everyone who hates soccer just join together and hate it for good reasons – the pansy-ass lack of legal contact, the epic flopping contests, the thoroughly boring and entirely meaningless 58 minutes or so that surround the 2 minutes of important bits, the lack of any strategy other than “run in that direction and kick the ball” – soccer has so many terrible things about it, racism never needs to come into the mix. Well, it doesn’t for people who don’t already start from the assumption that certain races suck. God, Glen Beck ruins everything.

    • Hanspeter

      58+2 = 60. What about the other 30 minutes in the game?

      • redrob

        He’s confusing soccer with American football. (I once timed an entire quarter and found that there was literally 5 seconds of action in every minute of “play”, never mind the clock stopping to allow all concerned to figure out just what the hell was going on and whether it mattered to the game.)

      • patrick

        He slept thru them.

    • wengler

      There’s a bit more than “run in that direction and kick them ball”. I’m not trying to make anyone like any sport, but I think if you appreciate sports in general it is quite easy to figure out a deeper inside game in soccer.

      The continuous play, the lack of a large number of individual statistics, and the inability of the coach to control the play second to second makes soccer different from most American team sports. I still think the politicization of it is odd though. Maybe they are paranoid about American football being popular only in the US.

    • Rob

      Yeah why watch soccer when you get all that plus referees fixing games in the NBA!

      • Nik

        If you think Soccer has no contact and think it is a game played in 60 minutes, perhaps you’re not actually watching Soccer.

        Also, better than Basketball, when I can run into another player and knock him down, while possibly elbowing him in the face, and it’s a foul on him because he only had one foot on the floor rather than two. That makes sense how?

      • Walt

        One thing I have to give soccer: better game-fixing scandals. Basketball has a long way to go before it can match the Russian ref who (allegedly) fixed the ’66 World Cup final as revenge for Stalingrad.

        • A

          The referee in that game was Swiss. The linesman was from Azerbaijan (though then part of the Soviet Union). There is no convincing proof that he did, in fact, give the goal against Germany because of the Nazi victory at Stalingrad.

    • GoCosmos

      John Cleese on soccer vs. football:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sD_8prYOxo

      I love claims that soccer is not physical enough. This by people who watch American football and baseball where guys wear pads, helmets, etc. and only have to run a minute or two before there’s a break in the action.

    • Bart

      Michael, at least soccer needs no time-outs so the coach can tell the idiots on the floor what to do next, especially during the final minutes.

      • The Wrath of Oliver Khan

        No, it’s so the idiots watching the game don’t forget what just happened during all the commercials they’ll see in the next TV time out.

  • Hogan

    I think that all right-thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that ordinary, decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not! But I’m sick and tired of being told that I am.

  • Brautigan

    What Michael said.

    Oh, and the non-stop horn-blowing.

    • mndean

      I like saying vuvuzela. It sounds pornographic.

  • Bill

    Frankly, Michael, I can handle racism-based soccer hate, but I cannot abide the dripping stupidity of the assertion that soccer (an incredibly tactically complex sport by any fair measure) amounts to nothing more than “run in that direction and kick the ball.”

    • Michael

      Yeah, not buying that argument. Within the moment, the players may make individual strategic choices, but nothing on that website suggests that there’s any strategy beyond where you put your guys and then whatever the guys do on their own out in the field. Strategy, at least as I’m using it in this critique, involves the whole team or large groups of the team moving together toward a goal, rather than individual reactions within an extremely broad framework of placement. That’s not strategy; that’s reaction. It’s possible to combine strategy and strategic placement (basketball has specific plays within the context of the triangle offense, for example) but soccer doesn’t do that. I simplified the critique, certainly, because I was going for bile rather than depth, but I think it holds true.

      • wengler

        You have never played this sport at any sort of organized level have you? Strategy involves formations(4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, the dreaded 4-5-1), overlapping runs, attacking midfielders, holding midfielders, wingers, strikers, set plays, wall formation, marking man to man or zonally, engaging offside traps, switching fields, and crossing.

        And that is only a little bit.

        Really, not liking a sport is one thing, but talking out of ignorance is another thing entirely.

        • What Wengler said. every word.

          • SEK

            I think a lot of the reason people would say “There’s no strategy in soccer,” but admit that a pick and roll is a strategic play is because, even though there is a similar play in soccer, the pitch is so large that it’s difficult for people who never played to actually see it develop. In basketball, it’s all contained on a relatively tiny court, whereas with midfield play, entry passes, crosses, etc. the strategy develops over a huge swath of land.

            • Walt

              We’re defining the level of “strategy” down to include basketball? Really?

        • djw

          Yeah, I play soccer at a extremely low skill/talent level, and at halftime we discuss the other team’s weaknesses and proclivities and make a set strategic plans and adjustments. It’s perfectly fine and reasonable to find soccer boring to watch (I sorta enjoy it sometimes, but I often find it boring as well), but your critique on ‘lack of strategy’ grounds betrays some pretty significant willful ignorance on your part.

      • Ray

        There is strategy – of course there’s strategy, and it takes a peculiar ignorance to imagine otherwise.
        What football doesn’t have is a coach micro-managing the play, deciding what will happen in every ten second chunk. Decisions at that level are left to the players, which means that a good team will have more than one player capable of thinking about the game rather than following orders.

        But calling individual plays is not strategy.

        Oh, and btw, the Irish? We love football.

  • What Bill said. Every word.

    the thoroughly boring and entirely meaningless 58 minutes or so that surround the 2 minutes of important bits,

    Sounds like the NFL. 60 minutes of game with 9 minutes of actual playing.

    As for Glenn Beck, he should stick to modeling.

    The 1994 WC was a huge financial success. The single largest attended events in the history of the old Giants Stadium were soccer matches. The nation that purchased the most tickets outside of South Africa for this WC is the USA.

  • Jon H

    I’m not anti-soccer, but I am glad that the lack of popularity in the US makes it less likely that we’ll be flooded with drunken assholes blowing vuvuzelas.

    • wengler

      Watch Euro 2012 then. There won’t be a horn to be heard.

      • Jon H

        I’m more concerned about people wandering US streets after the game, loaded up on beer and tooting like fools at 120 db. Or watching a game in the apartment next door, etc, etc.

        I don’t watch sports, so the sound during the game is of no concern.

  • Eric

    A Football (aka Soccer) game lasts 90 minutes as well…so the comparison does not work. Please know something..a little..if you try to criticize it!!

  • Warren Terra

    Part of this may also be how well the game is suited to television (and, conversely, how well the television broadcasters have managed to show off the strengths of the game).

    American football is an almost perfect television sport: it’s highly episodic, so not only is there room for commercials when control of the ball changes but the broadcaster can immediately do instant replays of the play that just happened, selecting the perfect camera angles, often without missing the next play. With each play, the ball starts in the middle of the field, almost all of the players start from fixed and stereotyped position, and their roles are mostly predictable. If you miss a play, or a quarter, a glance at the screen will tell you the current state of play (the score, which down it is, where the ball is, and the number of yards until a first down). As noted above, it’s also full of meaningless statistics.

    When I watched World Cup Soccer on television – admittedly a fair number of years ago, I’m not much of a sports fan – the commentary was sub-par, and the camera angles were often useless, especially when zoomed in on the ball. The play was often too fast and too fluid for the uninitiated to interpret, and there wre few opportunities for pauses, set-pieces, and instant replays. Players were moving all over the field, and weren’t nearly as specialized in their roles as in American Football, meaning that more effort was required to understand their actions.

    Take, for instance, hockey, a game whose rules are in some ways very similar to soccer, but which has been established in North America as a professional sport for decades. Hockey is a popular sport in some regions, and is full of excitement, action, and (allegedly) even bloodshed, but has never prospered on American television – mystifyingly, golf seems to be more popular as a televised sport in the US.

    Mind you, I’m certain soccer/football is a great game – essentially the entire rest of the world isn’t simply deluded – but in addition to simple inertia there may be other factors that dictate how well the different sports play out on American media.

    • SEK

      When I watched World Cup Soccer on television – admittedly a fair number of years ago, I’m not much of a sports fan – the commentary was sub-par, and the camera angles were often useless, especially when zoomed in on the ball.

      This will change, though, with the rising popularity of HD. When I was trapped in England, I watched games on HD, and the wider screen actually made the game look smaller, i.e. you could see enough of the pitch to watch plays develop. Much more like basketball.

      The play was often too fast and too fluid for the uninitiated to interpret, and there wre few opportunities for pauses, set-pieces, and instant replays.

      It’s odd that you say this, because a lot of people say that it’s neither fast nor fluid, but slow and dull … which is exactly the same terms people use to describe foreign films. I was going to extend that analogy in the post, but it’s a little too long as is. But the thing that American audiences are acculturated not to appreciate is tension: in films, we want non-stop action; in television shows, we want constant, unrealistic character development by means of lives as regularly eventful as the last month of mine; etc.

      Players were moving all over the field, and weren’t nearly as specialized in their roles as in American Football, meaning that more effort was required to understand their actions.

      This, though, is absolutely correct: I mostly played libero in high school — our French teacher coached the team or, more accurately, our football coach was French and also taught it — and always failed when trying to explain to people why the sweeper had very few set plays because his job was, essentially, to make sure the other team was always offside and acquire red cards. When I moved to midfield, I had a difficult time explaining the difference between a ball-winner and a play-maker, and how as the former, I was the third leg of a triangle that rarely struck, didn’t participate on corners, etc. It’s not like a center in basketball, where you can say — and where anyone with a brain can recognize — that you’re the really tall guy who hangs out near the basket.

    • Rob

      FIFA’s TV crew does suck I agree. I really wish they would allow a US network that can really produce this stuff to work the games.

      Of course also keep in mind that most likely those announcers you heard were in Bristol Connecticut or New York watching the same TV screen you saw and trying to do commentary off that.

    • redrob

      the commentary was sub-par

      High point of American sports broadcasting in a World Cup match: The portentous announcement that Bulgaria was the only team made up of players whose names ended with the same letter — “v”.

    • Left_Wing_Fox

      I think you make a good point, but if I may, i think the initial popularity of hockey has to do with its appeal to a radio crowd. Between the loud bangs, cracks and scrapes from the game itself being loud enough to hear, the fast-passing action allows the announcer to quickly set the basics, while the rise and fall of the cheering crowd provides both the contextual cues of proximity to the goals, and the excitement of a possible game-changing goal, making it prime fodder for CBC programming heard across the nation.

  • Anonymous

    People can like what they like — I’m actually a huge fan of all of the sports under discussion — but what I’ve never understood is why the constant commercial breaks in American football (and the absence of same in soccer) is counted in American football’s favor. It’s some strange Stockholm Syndrome in favor of advertisers that in 45 minutes of game play, some people prefer 25 of those minutes to be spent watching beer ads.

    • I guess the thinking is you gotta pee sometime.

    • Warren Terra

      In addition to Randy Paul’s comment, with which I agree (don’t underestimate the value of bathroom breaks and trips to the fridge), there’s the obvious one: the advertisers. If there are lots of opportunities for the networks to sell ads, the networks are going to be pretty enthusiastic about airing the sport, will promote the sport when it’s not showing; when it is showing they will pay for the extra camera crews, the highly skilled people who direct the camera crews and select and switch between camera angles, and and commentators who can keep people watching the games.

      • Anonymous

        It’s not a big deal but aren’t you just repeating what I said, that you need lots of commercial breaks so advertisers can make more money?

        Anyway, soccer broadcasters in the rest of the world seem to do just fine putting on a popular, professional, and profitable product without going over half of the broadcast time to advertisers.

      • Yet that’s not an issue in Europe. In fact, you’ll notice that there is plenty of advertising along the sidelines in soccer matches. Some of it is inserted electronically to target specific markets and regions.

    • Walt

      It makes it easy to watch football socially. You sit around, you chat during the commercial breaks, and the huddles, and then pause a minute to watch the action.

      • gmack

        That strikes me as precisely the issue. I find hockey, for instance, to be much more difficult to watch with groups and to chat, etc. while doing it. Watching a hockey game requires much more concentration and continuous attention than, say, American football or baseball.

  • Some Guy

    I, too, never understood the “nothing happens in soccer” argument.
    As opposed to super faced paced games like baseball, where you stand there and swing at the ball. Then maybe run 40 feet.
    Or football, which really throws a wrench into your grip on reality by offering you the chance to run with the ball… OR THROW IT!
    And after every play, a nice brisk 30 seconds of standing around on the field so we can show the viewers what beer to drink.

    I think what really drives Americans away from soccer is the lack of equipment. There’s no “suit up” time, no bats breaking in half, no helmets smacking together, no cheerleaders to fantasize about. Yes, I’m counting them as equipment. Angry liberal, what what.

    It’s just athletes competing in a field. How pedestrian. Dare I say it, Americans dislike soccer because it lacks the elitist flare you get from, say, football or baseball.

    • Rob

      I think it needs to be acknowledged that path dependency plays a big role. Every other pro sport in the US is the top of the line for that sport (depending how you classify motor racing). Soccer is never going to be that in the US. Its going to be a minor league sport in the US and that doesn’t really play well. The best hope is to build it through college soccer, the area people already accept minor sports as “tradition.”

    • mattc

      Um, you might consider baseball or football to be boring, but there’s one thing that you’ll never see in either of those sports but which seems to be a regular feature of soccer: SCORELESS TIES. That’s pretty much the dictionary definition of “nothing happening” isn’t it?

      • Some Guy

        Okay, so they add on innings and quarters until someone scores. I’m pretty sure there have been more then a few games that had to go into 0 – 0 extra time.
        Regardless, philosophies on allowing ties don’t have anything to do with the pacing of the game itself. I’m just saying, there’s a sizable bulk of time in football and baseball that consists of the players standing or sitting around.

        I actually kinda like baseball. And football has it’s merits, but it’s the most slowed down game in professional sports. Oops, incomplete pass, time for a 2min commercial break. Touchdown? One minute break. There are four 15min quarters, plus half time, so why does it take two and a half hours to play a game?

        • mattc

          there are very, very few baseball games that go 9 innings w/o anyone scoring, and it basically never happens in American football. Soccer seems like its default setting is the scoreless tie.

          • redrob

            If scoring is the measure of “something happening”, then bowling must be considered action-packed. Points are scored almost every time someone steps up to play. And games are high scoring too, hundreds of points in every game. In light of the scoring, high point totals, episodic nature of play, and ease of beer, bathroom, and advertising breaks, I don’t understand why professional bowling isn’t a more popular spectator sport.

            • mattc

              bowling is actually kind of riveting as a spectator sport if it’s a close match.

              Scoring isn’t the only measurement of “something happening” in sports, but it certainly seems like it’s a pretty big one.

              • redrob

                bowling is actually kind of riveting as a spectator sport if it’s a close match.

                Since I like watching curling, I’m just going to concede that this a “You like asparagus, I don’t” moment and go no further with it. I do not, however, consider you a lesser person for not appreciating soccer. Go in peace.

  • An article in The New Yorker from 2002 made the following comment that I think is spot on:

    The other thing this year’s World Cup taught, or retaught, was how insular Americans are about sports. We are to sports what Australia is to animals: we have all the weird stuff, and we think it’s normal. Football, our football, is our Tasmanian devil, baseball our kangaroo, hockey our koala.

    Formula 1, by the way is probably the most popular motor sport in the world. I can’t think of any American drivers in that sport.

    • Just for the sake of argument:

      The USA-England match Saturday was the fifth most-viewed soccer telecast in ABC history. The two-hour match window averaged a 7.3 household rating (8.4 million households) and 12.9 million viewers.

      That’s a rating that compares pretty well with golf and NASCAR and so on.

      • Morbo

        Stop it with your damned facts! Soccer is epically unpopular in ‘Murika, and that’s that.

    • Walt

      This, honestly, is the best thing about America. It’ll suck when the whole world has the same two sports, in the same way that it’ll suck when the whole world eats McDonald’s and pizza every day. I think it’s awesome that Canada has invented an ultra-inexplicable sport like curling to watch. I liked hockey better back when it had teams in Hartford and Winnipeg (I’m not sure I’d know where Winnipeg was otherwise.)

      The fact that the big sport in the US is something as bizarre and parochial as American football is part of the charm of America, just like the fact that in South Africa fans blow vuvuzelas is part of the charm of South Africa.

      • elm

        Scotland invented curling, though Canada did turn it into a televised event.

    • Eric Ehrmann

      Really hasn’t been a US Formula 1 superstar since Mario Andretti drove for Lotus and Michael Andretti a bit later on. The team politics at Lotus when Mario was top driver for them and the death of Swedish driver Ronnie Peterson at Monza were not pretty. Americans were pretty much absent in Grand Prix from the mid 90s until around 2004. Going way back, check out Phil Hill, Richie Ginther, Dan Gurney, Peter Revson.

  • Wait a minute! How long has there been a goddamn Oxford Comma in the title of this blog?!

  • ajay

    It’s path dependence, it has to be. Any other argument doesn’t work.
    “Americans don’t like soccer because it’s boring” – why has the rest of the world failed to notice this?
    “Americans like gridiron because it involves frequent breaks for beer advertising, drinking and disposal” – why have the English, the Czechs and the Belgians failed to notice this?

    The really puzzling question is “why do the Americans, alone among the civilised nations of the world, not like cricket?”

    • Didn’t know the civilized world extended only to the US, the UK, former UK colonies and the Netherlands.

      Next time I go to France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Brazil, etc., I have to remember to go during cricket season.

      • redrob

        Wait, you think Germany counts as civilized? Haven’t you read your Classics?

        • Lived there for three years. I’m thrilled the current generation is pacifist.

      • ajay

        Didn’t know the civilized world extended only to the US, the UK, former UK colonies and the Netherlands.

        Well, of course it does. And frankly I think we’re stretching the definition quite far enough by including Australia.
        (BTW the US is a former UK colony. They make quite a big deal about it every July.)

        • dave

          But then the UK is a former Dutch colony, what what? And very happy about it at the time, Gloriously so, in fact…

          • ajay

            We still are happy about it. (Especially since it was pretty much them or the French.)

    • Richard Hershberger

      You are, of course, right that this is path dependency.

      This applies to cricket as well. Cricket was a prominent sport in the U.S. in the 1850s, but this was largely illusory. There were no other significant organized team sports until the rise of organized baseball in the late part of the decade. So cricket got a lot of attention, hiding that it was mostly English expats playing it.

      Once the idea of organized team sports caught on, Americans naturally gravitated to baseball, which they had been playing all along in one form or another as an informal schoolyard game. There were more American cricket clubs in 1870 than there were in 1860, but in the meantime baseball had exploded in popularity across the country, marginalizing cricket.

      Cricket survived as a niche sport through the 19th century, and in a few areas (principally Philadelphia) well into the 20th century. But as another commenter has noted, niche sports really only thrive in American culture at the university level. Cricket never really caught on as a university sport, probably for the same reason that baseball is relatively minor at universities, being a summer sport.

      • A

        Cricket shot itself in the foot when the Imperial Cricket Conference, which restricted membership only to governing bodies of cricket within the British Empire where Test cricket was played, was formed as the governing body for world cricket in 1909. As soon as the Imperial Cricket Conference was changed to the International Cricket Council, and membership eligibility extended to non-Commonwealth countries, the USA was one of the first countries to join (in 1965).

  • BC

    Americans don’t watch soccer because Americans don’t understand soccer. I learned about it when in Bolivia in 1960s and had to listen to matches on the radio. Radio commenters have to give more information on what is happening on the field than tv commenters do, so you begin to learn more about the sport. Jonah Goldberg doesn’t like soccer because Jonah never was good at any sport and was never good at understanding anything and, besides, not liking the #1 sport in the world is a way to show how contrarian you are.

  • rumor

    I’m tickled pink that you adore sambas, as I, too, have composed paens to their indestructible glory, although none have been recorded. Alas. Anyway, I think you’ve convinced me to try wearing sambas with a suit.

  • proffosor fate

    While I like soccer and love the coverage of the world cup (even though it sounds like there are bees in my head while I’m watching) , I do have to say that there is nothing on the planet duller than a soccer game where two sides who are in a defensive shell waiting for the other side to make a mistake. Grass growing has more zing in that case. And as the stakes get higher as you move into the knock out stages you’ll see more of that. Hell even Brazil is talking about their defense.

    America’s not playing soccer I think has to do more with the anglophobia in america that was prevelant back in the 1870’s – Baseball was touted because it was ‘merican not like Cricket and our football was more ‘native and manly’ than soccer. Yes we have always been xenophbic idiots.

  • Western Dave

    F1 isn’t racing. It’s engineering. Look, I’m no Nascar partisan, I’m an IRL guy for better or worse. I married into it when I got hitched to my Hoosier wife but F1 is pretty much unwatchable as racing since the race is generally over before it’s begun and the only passing is in the pits.

    And btw, speaking of freaky sports that Canadians either invented or perfected: lacrosse. Great sport, very watchable, and one of the best all-time is pretty easily recognizable

    • It’s still the most popular motor sport in the world, yet no American I can think of figures prominently in it.

      Rallying is also a popular motor sport, with little prominence among Americasn as far as I know.

    • djw

      I’d agree with this assessment, with the addendum that F1 is more tolerable than NASCAR, but only because it’s over relatively quickly. But minute for minute F1 manages to be even more dreary to watch than NASCAR, which is really something.

      In general, I’ve never really understood the appeal of “Who can get from point A to point B the fastest” as the premise for a spectator sport, unless there is gambling involved.

      • Agreed, but I would also point out that at least rallying allows you to see interesting scenery.

        That being said, motor sports IMHO are a horrible waste of resources.

  • richard

    I’ve played a little bit of soccer and coached AYSO soccer (not very well but we had one undefeated season based on my brillian coaching strategy -pass the ball to Karen, a little dynamo who could race down the field unassisted and looking right, smash the ball to the left side of the goal or vice versa). Problem I have with it as a spectator sport is far too little scoring (IMHO, ice hockey’s 5 goals a game average is just about right) and the officiating is just abysmal (one referee on a field that large? come on)

  • DJS

    Franklin Foer addresses the often irrational hatred and bile some conservatives express towards soccer in the last chapter of his excellent book How Soccer Explains the World. He also looks at other aspects of America’s strange relationship with the game. It’s worth a read for anyone interested in this topic. I’m going to revisit it myself.
    On a side note-
    I do find it hilarious that many people who think soccer is boring LOVE baseball.

    • mattc

      I love baseball and find soccer boring. Each at-bat in baseball has a definitive conclusion that moves the game forward in an appreciable way: it builds a story with each batter, a story that is reflected in the game statistics. In soccer, scoring chances arrive abruptly, very occasionally resulting in a goal, but more often resulting in nothing, a return to the status quo that doesn’t move the game forward in any way other than taking up some more of the clock.

      Let me stress that this is my opinion, that I understand that soccer is the most popular sport in the world for a reason, but that the lack of narrative momentum is a difference between soccer and baseball that makes me greatly prefer the latter. I am not a jingo, I am not a Jonah Goldberg fan, I certainly know how to appreciate “tension” (how else could you enjoy a twelve pitch at-bat that ends in a ground out to short?), and I don’t have some sort of stockholm syndrome relationship with advertising. There’s nothing “Wrong” with liking soccer, but jesus, there’s nothing necessarily “wrong” with not liking it, either

      • DJS

        What produces tension to you may provoke a yawn in me.
        I don’t think I’m right and your wrong though…because as you said it all comes down to opinion and preference. I, personally, thought there was a narrative momentum in the Spain/Switzerland match this morning. You could (at least I could) feel the Swiss gain confidence as the match progressed.
        The thing I appreciate the most about soccer is the stamina and conditioning it takes to play at a high level.

        • mattc

          “The thing I appreciate the most about soccer is the stamina and conditioning it takes to play at a high level.”

          And I find it kind of awesome that you can be both a effective baseball player AND massively fat.

          It all boils down to idiosyncratic preference.

    • ThresherK

      I enjoyed Foer’s book, and also the fascinating book “Soccernomics”.

      One thing the latter mentioned was that the population, health and resources point to American improvement on the world stage. However, I’m concerned that that promise won’t be developed thoroughly. This American authoritarian bent, referred to upthread*, makes me worry about our ability to ever be the “finishing school” for soccer the way we are for basketball and baseball. (I didn’t mention American football, because it is almost exclusively played here.)

      (*Another vote for players not stopping every five seconds to ask The Man what to do.)

      PS Why does RealAmerica™ prefer the sport where celebrating is man-on-man butt slapping over the sport where it’s man-on-man hugging?

      PPS I really have an urge to buy a Mahindra. I can’t wait to see what’s in the box when it gets delivered.

      • A

        Dude, Mahindra is a car maker from India. I doubt you’ll get it delivered in a box.

  • patrick

    Goldberg: Looking for the greenest
energy source? Try oil
    By JONAH GOLDBERG

    If you could have waited just one more day you could have started back with something even more stupid.
    Of course that will probably true tomorrow too. The opposite of “I can’t wait ’til tomorrow cause I get smarter every day”.

  • Western Dave
  • What the hell is all this about? Soccer? Well of course the sport deserves respect; admiration even. But that these conversations here have been flimsy after flimsy attempt to either undermine or catapult the level of difficulty and importance of soccer is just lazy, convenient, meaningless banter. I have a different perspective I’d like to share. I attended a private university in the states and served 3 years as captain of our soccer cheerleading squad. Yea, it was dumb, but I travelled a bit, learned a lot and had a good time. Me? A sports nut? Hell no. But there from the sidelines I learned a bit about the sport and actually came to enjoy it. Love it? Again, hell no. But to deny the intense level of skill and endurance that these players have to display and maintain for professional excellence is asinine. Ok. I’m done baiting, now it’s time for the switch to discuss the real reason I’m posting on this subject. It’s because I AM HORRIFIED at the sickening racism that is shamelesly displayed toward black soccer players, both by fellow players on the field and the fans in the stands. I’ve seen videos showing European stadiums filled with white, male swastika donned creatures that appeared to be human, holding HUGE antisemitic banners telling Jews to “go home to Auschwitz”. WTF??? Then the soccer fanatics start behaving like animals…literally. They actually make monkey noises at black players when they have the ball. The sound is deafening. The intent is sickening!!! These fools make crazy monkey noises and throw bananas at their OWN TEAM PLAYERS as they are trying to win for them! Astounding! The video also shows various supremicist groups pitching trash bag tents outside to recruit young men coming into the stadium. Everywhere you looked there are white men marching, shouting and saluting – hot for Hitler like T&A. It is the most disgusting display of blatant, shameless ignorance that I have EVER seen in modern sports, and it gave me one more reason to be grateful to live in America. I’ve gone to many matches and games, and when I go again I know that chances are, I’m not going to see anything like that. In the footage, racist groups from various countries, all collectively stand on their feet, screaming epithets and monkey hooting to express their disgust and disrespect for the players who happen to be black. They spit on them, gestured them, and yelled the N-word. It later reminded me of that scene in Blazing Saddles (De camp town lady), but at first glance, I was absolutly speechless. Recently, an enormously popular soccer coach has recently called a black player a “black $hit” during an interview. That he still has a job is insult enough, and it amazes me that more people are not enraged by the violence and bigotry in European soccer. I must say, minus the victims that had to endure this humiliating evil, I would have liked to see the whole site nuked, and any site even remotely like it, here or anywhere. One of the hardest pills for me to swallow as a human being is how good insists that evil exist. This is one of God’s mysterious ways that I may never understand.

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