We Can Stop Caring About Soccer Now

2010 June 27

I feel bad that I didn’t write a blog post about Landon Donovan’s epic goal in the 91st minute. Maybe I need negativity to write blog posts. I haven’t written about the Mets recently and they are 10 games above .500 and leading the NL wild card standings, and it took a loss by Fedor for me to write a blog post after another few days off after saying I was back. So yeah, I guess I like writing about failure.

As I’m sure all of you know, the U.S. lost today to Ghana in the knockout round of 16 in the World Cup. It was disappointing, but it’s not like the U.S. deserved to win, considering they still hadn’t learned that play starts with the first whistle. For the second time in four games, they allowed a goal in the first five minutes.

I’m going to try to be as serious as possible in this post. On Twitter today, I posted a bunch of joking, but derogatory things about soccer; I don’t feel they were unfounded, though. I think flopping (@QVT replied to me that it’s not called flopping — I would like him to comment on here and tell me what it’s called) is a major issue that causes many Americans to dismiss the sport. You’d need a 2160p television set to see some of the “contact” on which fouls are inevitably called due to a guy jumping through the air and holding his leg. And some Americans were all too content to join in, as pointed out in this blog post.

And the Ghanaians display at the end of the match today was arguably the worst thing that could have happened, American-interest-wise. After all the goodwill and excitement conjured up by Donovan’s goal, Africa had to ruin things once again. First the vuvuzelas, then stalling the game by lying on the fucking ground after absolutely nothing happened to you. I’m trying to think of a comparable tactic in another sport. I guess a pitching coach or catcher coming out to the mound to give a pitcher more time to warm up in the bullpen? But that doesn’t necessitate deceit. And maybe this is what @QVT was referring to when he meant it wasn’t flopping — it’s stalling. But it’s stalling by faking an injury (actually, it didn’t even look like the guy was trying to fake it — he was literally just LYING THERE). Whatever it is, it’s bullshit.

I also saw some people complaining about the offside rule on Twitter, but I have to imagine they’re mostly casual — if not totally bandwagon — fans (like myself).  I really would like a true soccer fan’s opinion on this. Yeah, I played soccer up until junior varsity in high school, but by that point I had already lost a step or three due to not playing in 9th grade and I barely remember it anyway. Either way, I can’t say I ever held a strong opinion the offside rule. I know it would create more scoring, right? I can’t see how that’s a bad thing. People who rip on baseball seem to think it would improve with more scoring. But similar to why I don’t like aluminum bats (other than the sound), maybe hardcore soccer fans like their goals scarce. But I’m not quite sure why I even bring up the offside rule, because like I said, I don’t have any strong feelings about it — the only time I did was when the U.S. lost a goal to it when they weren’t actually offside.

But I’m not getting at the heart of why many Americans find soccer boring to watch. And I guess I’m going to project my own feelings onto the American public, but it’s because for much of the game there is absolutely NO chance of someone scoring in the immediate future, or at least that’s how it seems to the untrained eye. There is mostly passing in the middle and positioning, which doesn’t create much tension. In football, there could be a massive touchdown pass at any time. In baseball, every pitch can turn into a home run. In hockey — well, hockey is just a shrunken-down, sped-up version of soccer on ice, isn’t it? Only instead of flopping, there’s fighting. Basketball almost has the opposite problem of soccer in my mind, in the sense that there’s just so much scoring back and forth that it becomes mundane. Don’t ask me to explain NASCAR’s popularity.

But I have to admit Landon Donovan’s goal was fucking amazing. Even I was caught up in the sport at that moment. Perhaps that’s what watching soccer is all about? It’s waiting for that orgasmic moment that comes along once or twice a game if you’re lucky. It’s forgetting all the awful officiating and flopping to savor the ball getting buried in the back of the net. Sure, there are swathes of yawn-inducing play, but do those all-too-rare fantastic goals make up for that fact? I don’t know, but I’m still leaning towards no.

My question to myself right now is how I can continue watching this World Cup. I know England-Germany is a massive match, but who am I supposed to root for? It’s hard enough for me to keep my attention focused on the television during a U.S. match I have a rooting interest in, so how can I expect that match to grab me? Am I just supposed to pretend it’s 70 years ago and root against the Nazis?

And I need to go to sleep now. I doubt I’ll even wake up for the match now, anyhow.

Edit: How the fuck did I not comment on the awful officiating and how FIFA is totally averse to the use of any technology? I guess I mentioned how the U.S. got fucked out of a goal — well Mexico just got fucked. England got fucked earlier. There have been a dozen other awful calls too. Yet there is no goal line sensor or replay. Fucking joke.

Related posts:

  1. So I’m Supposed To Get Excited About Soccer Now, Right?
  2. Soccer is Fundamentally Flawed
  3. Soccer Players are Pansies

  • http://babygotbooks.org Lila

    I’ve personally always found it pretty odd that a sport like football, that has so much world wide appeal and interest from EVERY country, is shunned in the USA. I think that says a lot about the USA as a country, as well as its people. I won’t elaborate on that though :)

    • http://somewhatmanlynerd.com/blog CajoleJuice

      It says a lot about America’s sport culture and history. For whatever reason, soccer never gained a major foothold here. Its development in England (I believe, going by some quick Wiki browsing) most likely contributed to its spread through British colonies and perhaps French and other countries’ colonies as well.

      America seemed to develop isolated from the rest of the world, what with baseball and basketball becoming popular. I do wonder why we felt the need to change rugby into American football though. Then there’s hockey too (which came from our neighbors to the north). This is all my bullshit speculation — I wouldn’t be surprised if there are plenty of academic and journalistic works that cover the topic.

      But the sport isn’t totally shunned. Suburban boys and girls across the U.S. play it — like I did — but up until recently, there was no professional soccer for these kids to watch, preventing the development of soccer FANS. I certainly think soccer as a spectator sport is growing now with the creation of MLS and the advent of satellite television and the internet.

      • http://babygotbooks.org Lila

        What comment threading plugin do you use?

      • http://somewhatmanlynerd.com/blog CajoleJuice

        I don’t use one, I just went to “discussion” under “settings” in the dashboard and enabled threaded comments. But as you can see, it turns into a mess because of these stupid icons, which I should just disable. Might do that right now.

      • http://somewhatmanlynerd.com/blog CajoleJuice

        Nevermind, still broken. So broken.

    • Malek

      Canada doesn’t care about soccer either; we have the vastly superior sport of hockey.

  • Cornballer

    It’s typically referred to as “diving” rather than “flopping,” and unfortunately Altidore does indulge in it from time to time. Would be nice if they started using video to retroactively ban the culprits after matches, but Blatter & Co. aren’t down with technology.

    • http://somewhatmanlynerd.com/blog CajoleJuice

      Ah that would be the word. And yeah, I’ve thought MLB was adverse to technology, but FIFA is ridiculous.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TDH44LDJ2OLGKZBA6GMSSZHPJ4 Bogus Bill

    Americans think soccer is boring because it *is* boring. No skill required at all, just trotting up and down the field for 90 minutes hoping the ball finds its way into an oversized goal. How can you claim to have skill when you can’t hit that gigantic goal?

    NASCAR requires skill, concentration, endurance , nerve, strategy and teamwork. Try driving an inch behind another car screaming around a track at 200 MPH for three hours and see how easy that is.