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Preview: Comments on: 'What's that show called again? Oh, yeah...Dream On.'

Comments on: 'What's that show called again? Oh, yeah...Dream On.'



Comments on MetaFilter post 'What's that show called again? Oh, yeah...Dream On.'



Published: Sun, 02 Apr 2006 08:15:47 -0800

Last Build Date: Sun, 02 Apr 2006 08:15:47 -0800

 



'What's that show called again? Oh, yeah...Dream On.'

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 08:02:48 -0800

'American sports are played with the hands. Using your feet is for commies' "It's inevitable, given the way the US teams are improving every year, that eventually we will make it to the semi-final of a World Cup, and it's likely, one would think, that the United States will win it all in the near future."



By: dash_slot-

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 08:15:47 -0800

I thought this was quite insightful, inasmuch as it explained - tongue in cheek, of course - a bit more about why the beautiful game remains somewhat underdeveloped in the US, even when it is played so widely in the age group 5 - 10. Of course, 'limitless wealth' Eggers wryly refers too may not be a sufficient condition for success in football: many is the club side that grew fat and arrogant - and so, unsuccessful - on their wealth. See Man. Utd, recent seasons (and dare I suggest, Chelsea F.C, in seasons to come). The Italian leagues, and Spanish Championships will hold their own similar examples.



By: jfuller

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 08:43:20 -0800

People still won't care. As a sport, (soccer)-football is like hiking, or drinking beer: I love to do it, have zero interest in watching someone else doing it.



By: zwemer

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 08:49:18 -0800

great post!



By: ibanda

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 08:51:50 -0800

Didn't England famously lose to the US in the 1950(?) World Cup by something like 10-0? As for 'people still won't care' this is one of the cases where the indifference or otherwise of the US doesn't matter a hoot - there are still hundreds of millions of people around the world who see football as the greatest spectator sport ever.



By: Auz

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 08:56:48 -0800

I don't think wealth is as effective internationally as could be for club sides. Club sides can play almost anyone (aside from some rules) who'll take their money. Arsenal doesn't even field Englishmen these days, let alone people from London. If the US ever got its act together though, the fact it only needs to find 16 or so fit players from a population of 300,000,000 would be more telling perhaps.



By: Auz

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 08:58:25 -0800

"Didn't England famously lose to the US in the 1950(?) World Cup by something like 10-0?" It was 1-0.



By: kika

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 09:13:43 -0800

Not enough scoring, not enough (violent) action and not enough dead moments that can be filled with advertising. Those ingredients will prevent soccer to be ever popular in North America. In Europe networks pay gigantic amounts of money to air these 1 and half hour games with only advertising in the mid break, on billboards around the field and on the players' shirts.



By: Baby_Balrog

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 09:19:26 -0800

kika hit the nail on the head - it simply isn't marketable. ibanda - The post isn't talking about the overall success of soccer around the world - but in the United States. I remember playing when I was a little kid - my dad even coached a team. And I also remember the conversation he had with another parent who attended a game, considering signing their kid up. Dad was asked why he had me playing soccer with 'the girls' instead of playing baseball. He said, "Well, the kids spend a lot less time on the bench, and they're running constantly so it's good cardiovascular exercise." "Yeah, but, all that hitting the ball with their heads, isn't that dangerous?" "That's why we probably won't let him play in high school." So I went on to join the downhill ski team and broke 12 bones (in fairness, 9 of which were in my hands) over the course of two years - until my violin teacher threatened physical violence if I didn't give up the slalom.



By: jfuller

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 09:27:56 -0800

> As for 'people still won't care' this is one of the cases where the indifference or > otherwise of the US doesn't matter a hoot My point was unclearly expressed. Of course the world will go its merry way. I meant that even winning the World Cup won't make world-style football vastly popular in the US. It's like cycle racing--Armstrong won the Tour de France umpty times and got lots of press but cycling continues to be a fringe sport here because guys in shrink-tubing bike pants and toadstool helmets look like such fools. Where a sport is not already Pavlovian-popular, people are able to see the inherent idiocy of it. American-style football will never conquer the world either, for exactly the same reason.



By: psmealey

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 09:36:00 -0800

it simply isn't marketable. That must be why teams have such a hard time selling tickets in Germany, the UK, France, Holland, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Korea, etc... I know what you meant, Baby_Balrog, but it was just a funny statement when you think of what an economic/marketing force football is in practically every country other than the US and Canada. I like the US Team, I think they are a good group of hard-working, engaging and humble guys. I root for them when they play, but I know deep down that they are lacking the requisite creativity and class to legitimately compete for the top spot. This will continue to be the case as long as America's truly elite athletes self-select for pursuit on the basketball court and the gridiron. By the same token, I think if the stars aligned such that the US ever did win the cup the corporate sports machine got behind it, this might be the worst thing that could happen to the game. I'd look for abominations like possession clocks, a two-point scoring line, teevee timeouts, penalty boxes, and so on. Though I'd love to have more opportunities to watch world class football matches in person, 'tis a small price to pay to keep the beautiful game beautiful, and away from the grubby hands of the people that have ruined perfectly wholesome and engaging sports like baseball and basketball.



By: dash_slot-

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 09:45:39 -0800

I guess injuries in high school soccer are fairly low compared to those in American football - i have no figures to back that up, so *opinion alert*. School sports are rather downplayed here these days, as teenagers have to study so hard for the perpetual exams successive governments have emphasised - hence I don't think there's even a 'high school' sports culture anymore in the UK. I think Eggers misses something when he says that the apparent cheating that goes on in 'world soccer' is another reason that it won't take off in the states. Everyone hates a cheater: that's part of the reason that opposing sides' supporters get so worked up in the stands. It doesn't add much to the actual playing of the game, admittedly - but it sure keeps the fans worked up. It seems that there's little that could be done in the rules of the game beyond what already exists, too. A player can be sent of for simulating a foul. I think that the importance of advertising in the US scene is also over emphasisied: the commercialisation of the game in Europe has not been at all hampered by 2 45 minute halves. The US game existed before TV adverts, and surely would be played if, spookily, they disappeared tomorrow. [Or if the NFL commisioners asserted their independence, and made the tv show all about the game, as true sports fans would.] on preview: psmealey raises some justifiable anxieties, but soccer is an all-or-nothing system. The US could not play a game with different rules, it would not be able to participate in international tournaments if it did. It's national side would need to practice and compete with the same game rules as everyone else, if they want to win. And that is surely something that chimes with most americans, winning. Right?



By: funambulist

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 09:54:43 -0800

Thanks for the article, a very entertaining read. He's a bit too nasty with the foul fakery though, come on, it's such fun... with only advertising in the mid break, on billboards around the field and on the players' shirts Plus, lots of pre and post-match tv shows with advertising in it, tv and paper advertising campaigns featuring soccer stars, merchandising, sponsors, soccer-related gadgets for kids in sponsors products, competitions, playstation games... It is hugely marketable, it is already a huge business, and big US brands themselves are already involved in all that in other countries. I guess it's just that in the US, other sports already fill that role and there's no more room at the top. Trying to make soccer become as big as American football or basketball there would be like trying to make basketball become as popular as soccer elsewhere. It's a matter of which sport got there first.



By: Baby_Balrog

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 09:59:51 -0800

psmealey: The revenue from ticket sales compared to the revenue from network advertising isn't even in the same *ahem* ballpark. By several orders of magnitude. If soccer is to become a mainstream sport in the U.S. you will have to stop the game every at least every 20 minutes for a 3 minute ad break. I sold radio for an AM sports station that covered football, basketball and baseball events around the midwest, and it's hard for me to wrap my brain around the amount of money we'd hemorrhage if we had tried to do play-by-play on soccer games. Millions of dollars. That, multiplied by television and radio coverage throughout the U.S. equals a staggering sum. Sports in the U.S. are no more about the game than the Dr. Phil show is about "helping real people." Show me a way to make money off of soccer, and I'll show you a network television station that covers a soccer game. er... match. Match? Is that what you call it?



By: Aknaton

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 10:05:02 -0800

The Guardian probably should simply have translated 'soccer' to 'football' everywhere, rather than sometimes putting [American] before football. An amusing difficulty. David Beckham, a Manchester United footballer (or as we say stateside, "soccerer") from suck



By: bobo123

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 10:16:04 -0800

I know what you meant, Baby_Balrog, but it was just a funny statement when you think of what an economic/marketing force football is in practically every country other than the US and Canada. Funny thing is, nobody seems to pay that much attention to football here in Canada, until the World Cup rolls around then everyone in Toronto turns into a goddamn expert and out come all the flags and face painters, with people crowding into bars early in the morning. As to it's lack of popularity in the U.S., I'd agree with funambulist that there's "no more room" with other sports, but another interesting theory I've heard was that Americans love sports statistics, and debating percentages and records, and that "soccer" is less "statistically" oriented, more flowing, than other sports.



By: srboisvert

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 10:19:04 -0800

I think the problem is that it is hard to see the ball on TV. They should make it glow and give it a comet tail.



By: kaemaril

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 10:30:46 -0800

Soccer? Not enough violent action? Oh, wait, you're talking about on the pitch. Sorry.



By: matteo

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 10:33:09 -0800

it is hard to see the ball on TV harder than it is to see a hockey puck?



By: hangashore

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 10:39:10 -0800

harder than it is to see a hockey puck? I think that's exactly what srboisvert was referring to (see "Fox puck"), specifically the ham-fisted way it was foisted upon the sport (God, was Fox hockey painful).



By: Bulgaroktonos

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 10:40:18 -0800

I get really irritated by things like "the sport they insist on calling soccer." There are at least seven sports called "football" I can think of(American, Canadian, Soccer, both types of Rugby, Gaelic Rules, Aussie Rules) and pretty much everywhere calls the dominant local code "football" and everything else by a different name. Hell, the word has different meanings depending on which part of Ireland you're in, or so I'm told. Anyway, as the the substance, I think he misses the point. Yes, some Americans used to think Soccer was Communist, but now we don't watch it because we're a pretty sport saturated market as it is. For soccer to become a major part of American life it would have to take away market share from existing sports, which I don't see happening. We don't like diving, but I can't imagine most Americans are even aware of the diving problems in soccer. We play it at an early age because for the reasons he me



By: jamesonandwater

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 11:02:01 -0800

Hell, the word has different meanings depending on which part of Ireland you're in, or so I'm told. Yah, can be gaelic or soccer depending on who you're talking to. Never rugby though, in my experience.



By: MetaMonkey

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 11:02:13 -0800

Trying to make soccer become as big as American football or basketball there would be like trying to make basketball become as popular as soccer elsewhere. It's a matter of which sport got there first. I honestly had not considered that football was not objectively and emphatically the best sport in the world, both to watch and to play. I think it is much, much harder to introduce baseball/American football as they require a cultural immersion to understand/enjoy the game. Football really couldn't be easier to pick up: try to put the ball in the net, don't use your hands. I wouldn't be surprised if football did eventually become popular in the states, for the simple reason that it is a beautiful game. Few sports have the natural flow, unpredictability, ease of understanding and lack of interruptions as football. Which explains why it is so popular pretty much everywhere else in the world. I still don't understand why it isn't a popular, if marginal sport in the US, simply because it is such a fun sport to watch and play, even if it has less potential for ad-revenue. Don't all Americans have like a billion cable channels full of special-interest pap? There must be room for football somewhere. And now I've learned it is ubiquitous amongst younger American children, it is all the more mysterious that they forget about it in high school.



By: hoverboards don't work on water

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 11:05:46 -0800

I always thought American sports never caught on around the world because they require far too much expensive equipment, whereas a good approximation to a soccer game can be played anywhere, by any number of players, with a tin can. Could soccer be unpopular in America because it is perceived as too simple?



By: Space Coyote

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 11:06:12 -0800

There's diving in hockey as well, and it's the most manly sport there is. It's definitely embarrassing. As for the low scoring, they could simply do what American / Canadian football does and multiply each score by 6.



By: MetaMonkey

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 11:08:59 -0800

On re-reading the part I quoted, I realise the game being compared was basketball, which is in fact fairly popular in the UK/Europe (as far as I know), at least to play if not to watch. Which illustrates how much easier it is for a simple, fast-paced, easily comprehendible game to penetrate other cultures. Which further explains why American football and baseball are rarely played outside America, and makes it harder to understand why football isn't at least a popular game to play in America for bored teens.



By: octothorpe

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 11:18:24 -0800

For me at least, I tend to not like goal-type games (soccer, baseball, hockey) because they move too fast and don't have built-in breaks between plays. I tend to be more interested in the strategy then the athleticism so I like how baseball and American football have discrete plays with pauses between so that you can think about what the next play might be. That's not to say there there isn't lots of strategy in soccer or basketball, its just that my brain is too slow to really pick up on it so it just seems like a lot of running around to me.



By: RufusW

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 11:47:34 -0800

What about the parallels between sport and politics? American sports love rules, everything is monitored by many referees and a lot of time is taken over decisions - managers can even force them to rethink the call (American Football). Rigid - like the U.S constitution. Whereas football relies a lot more on sportsmanship, diving is not really a huge problem and 'fair play' is admired. It's more flexible, only one on-pitch referee and he often gets decisions wrong. But that's all part of it. Flexible like the UK's common law. I don't think American's can face the fact the referee can be wrong or that it can be so easy to cheat - which it is, relatively My 2cents...



By: funambulist

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 11:53:48 -0800

Yes, it's true that basketball is fairly popular outside the US too, just not as much as football/soccer, and definitely not as much as it is in the US. Soccer takes up most of the space, figuratively and literally speaking.



By: QuietDesperation

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 11:56:36 -0800

Which further explains why American football and baseball are rarely played outside America Let's make that "the Americas," unless a few hundred million Panamanian, Cuban, Venezuelan, Mexican and Puerto Rican beisbol fans and players don't count. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned that baseball has ties to America's agrarian past - it moves at a pace more in sync with lives in farming towns. Clock sports such as football and basketball became more popular as more and more people moved off towns and began punching a clock -- they are shorter, faster, bettter suited to after-work relaxation than a 2 1/2 hour baseball game. Baseball would be analogous to cricket in England (and its colonies). Those who are hooked on baseball enjoy its cerebral aspect - the strategy, the mind games, the lulls followed by lightning fast action. It's more of an intellectual sport that soccer, which is more pure athleticism.



By: elgilito

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 12:06:01 -0800

Perhaps it's just the current foreignness of football (a game where so many celebrities are Brazilian, German, French etc.) prevents it from becoming a national pastime in the US. Also, there's something distinctly supranational in football that, maybe, doesn't play well with the US as they are now. It's not just non-American in origin, but it's basically non-American in its near-universality.



By: Deep Dish

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 12:15:40 -0800

Perhaps it's just the current foreignness of football (a game where so many celebrities are Brazilian, German, French etc.) prevents it from becoming a national pastime in the US. Also, there's something distinctly supranational in football that, maybe, doesn't play well with the US as they are now. It's not just non-American in origin, but it's basically non-American in its near-universality. I would buy this arguement if the unpopularity of soccer wasn't a Canadian too. Canada's big cities are all very diverse and nobody really gets nervous about it - yet soccer is not a very popular spectator sport. The idea American Constitution makes the society more rigid and therefore more inclined towards rule heavy sports also loses its strength when presented with Canada. Canada gives you British legal and parlimentary governance - still very little soccer and cricket. Rugby is gaining popularity and Canada usually fields a decent team That said, I do watch soccer, rugby and cricket and I regret I learned these games after my life in competitive sports was largely over. I picked up a love for these sports overseas - Fox Sports World shows me that Fox is not entirely evil.



By: QuietDesperation

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 12:17:08 -0800

Also, there's something distinctly supranational in football that, maybe, doesn't play well with the US as they are now. It's not just non-American in origin, but it's basically non-American in its near-universality. Or, it could be, as Frank Deford suggested, that Americans like to see athletes use their hands. Sports are somewhat arbitrary in their evolution. There's no reason that the US has to adopt a sport just because it's popular everywhere else, nor does that neccessarily speak ill either of the Americans or the sport in question. For God's sake, there are people around who take curling seriously.



By: Deep Dish

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 12:18:17 -0800

Also basketball was invented by a Canadian, and American/Canadian football was first played by McGill and Harvard. These are not strictly US developed sports. I believe what happened was one team showed up expecting to play soccer they other rugby and a hybrid game evolved. Something like that.



By: booksandlibretti

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 12:20:47 -0800

My brother was one of the kids who started soccer when he was about four and continued in community leagues until he was about fourteen. He was dedicated -- went to all kinds of clinics, toured for games, played in different leagues in different times of the year. He was also very good. Then he entered high school. There he learned that football is a man's sport, and soccer is a child's or fag's game for those pussies who are too afraid to be tackled. Now he's a miserable second-string football player, but hey, at least he's not some kind of soccer-playin' queer or somethin'. Obviously, YMMV. It seems to me that there can be plenty of violence in soccer, but that it's not as sanctioned or as blatant as tackling in football. Probably if football wasn't already big, soccer could succeed, but now soccer is seen as a kid's game you grow out of (and if you don't, then you're afraid of violence and therefore gay or a pussy or both).



By: blacklite

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 13:33:31 -0800

I'm Canadian, and I've always wanted to like football/soccer, and I enjoyed playing it when I was younger. But it's never on television anywhere. You have to go find some explicitly British Isles pub to see it. Although maybe I'll try a bit harder now that I'm moving back (I'm in the US right now.) The sprinkling of comments in here about baseball being a cerebral game where you get to think about the plays made me laugh. Some guy throws a ball, another guy hits it, they run around a big circle. I have never been able to comprehend why it's considered a spectator sport, despite having attended a couple of major league games. But, uh, I'm derailing here. I like the concept of football/soccer, it's just hard to find on this continent. CBC should give it a try, and have some hockey commentators drop in to introduce it to the Canadian audience. What else are we going to do during the summer?



By: selton

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 13:38:19 -0800

It's interesting that the main position where Americans have had longish/high profile careers in the English Premiership is as goalkeeper. Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller, Tim Howard, Juergen Summer... plus at least one more that I'm forgettin now I'm sure. So perhaps the hands thing does mean something. I can only think of Brian McBride and, in years past, John Harkes & Cobi Jones to some extent holding down a first team place consistently playing outfield. The American outfield players I've seen so far in England, seem disciplined and diligent, but not ovely talented, which is odd. Perhaps Frankie Adu will make a difference in the popularity, if he becomes a superstar.



By: PurplePorpoise

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 14:37:14 -0800

blacklite - What else are we going to do during the summer? Lacrosse? Soccer is/was pretty popular in Vancouver. I knew tons of soccer players in highschool - fieldhockey however was more a "girl's" sport (but there're men's leagues) - most of those soccer players eventually went to play Rugby in highschool and Uni, but most ended up going back to soccer once they hit their mid/late 20's (rugger's rough on the body). Sports like football and ice hockey is expensive to get into; and constantly buying new (or even used) gear as a child grows adds up very quickly. Also, in hockey, you have to constantly replace your stick/blades/gloves...



By: soiled cowboy

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 14:43:51 -0800

Considering the popularity of soccer in Mexico and Central America, I'm wondering if the growing population of Hispanic Americans might eventually boost the popularity of soccer in the US? Maybe the American team that wins the World Cup will be composed of players with Spanish surnames.



By: sien

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 14:44:18 -0800

Soccer is taking off in the US. Latinos play soccer. There are now more Latinos than African-Americans. Over the next 20-30 years Latinos will probably be about 25 percent of the US population. Some Latinos may give up soccer and watch older US sports, but not all. In DC you can go around the burbs on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and see heaps of games played by Salvadorians and other Latinos. Most US cities are probably similar. Soccer is big part of the future of US sport. As far as the World Cup goes the US has never won two consecutive games. In the World Cup past performance is a good indicator of future performance. The US has quite a way to go before winning a World Cup.



By: psmealey

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 14:51:28 -0800

Then he entered high school. There he learned that football is a man's sport, and soccer is a child's or fag's game for those pussies who are too afraid to be tackled. Now he's a miserable second-string football player, but hey, at least he's not some kind of soccer-playin' queer or somethin'.. Man, does that hit close to home. I was a very good soccer player from Grade 2 all the way through grade 9; travelling teams, summer camps and all that. In my adolescent weakness and desire to be included among the "in" crowd, I caved into peer pressure and went our for football freshman year of high school. Though, I have always been a very competitive athlete (and still am somewhat at 39), I never had the killer instinct, or the innate aggression that one needs to excel at American football. I made it all the way through summer practice, and blew out my knee during the last practice before my first freshman football game. As much pain as I was in, I was pretty relieved. As much as I liked watching NFL and College ball on the tv throughout my youth, I found that I absolutely hated the game once I strapped on a helmet and shoulder pads. I didn't play soccer again until my junior year in college, where I played intramurals at the Sorbonne. As disorganized as that was, that was probably the most fun I have ever had playing organized team sports. That year, I gravely regretted the horrible decision I had made 6 years earlier to abandon my most favorite sport for no good reason at all. At any rate, I get really pissed off when I hear these neanderthal mainstream American jackasses call soccer a "pussy" game. There might not be quite as much bone crunching trauma, but I do maintain that playing midfield for 90 minutes is one of the most physically demanding things one can ever do. Beyond this, though, the potential to take an elbow (or a forehead) in the head, or have your legs taken out from under you swiftly and with a vengence is quite high, when the game is played right.



By: First Post

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 15:05:16 -0800

A lot of Americans don't play soccer past their youth years because that's not where the money is. Most people will go for a baseball or pointyball scholarship, because that can be parlayed into a huge contract in the major leagues of those sports. Most Major League Soccer players are essentially making blue collar wages compared to other US sports, like around $20-30k USD a year or so. That is changing now, with bigger contracts to US players such as Eddie Johnson. Another thing that will help is the recent move toward more involved development of academies and MLS reserve teams, giving more opportunities for players to find a spot somewhere as well as getting youth players ingratiated into "the system" at a younger age (the aforementioned EJ came out of Nike's academy program in Florida, which is now "Generation Adidas" with a big bankroll behind it). Not to mention MLS has been crafty in keeping the league together up to now, and the movement toward soccer specific stadiums in which teams control the revenue is key--they're popping up all over the place, in cities where the teams have been paying often exorbitant rent to baseball and gridiron stadiums. In Dallas, we have the state of the art Pizza Hut Park now. It's just gorgeous; we're quite fortunate. The team did a lot of training camp stuff in England this year at Premiership facilities and some of the staff were surprised at how run-down and crappy a lot of their practice facilities were. The idea of stadiums made just for soccer, however, is a new and novel idea in the States, but it is already starting to pay dividends.



By: QuietDesperation

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 15:16:13 -0800

The sprinkling of comments in here about baseball being a cerebral game where you get to think about the plays made me laugh. Some guy throws a ball, another guy hits it, they run around a big circle. Funny, that's how I feel about symphony a orchestra. I mean, some guy waves a stick, a bunch of people blow through tubes and scratch strings, what's the big deal? Seriously, I felt the same way as a kid, had no interest in sports, till my son began playing baseball. That's when the scales fell from my eyes. As Yogi Berra said, "Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical."



By: Cranberry

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 15:24:13 -0800

All hail the University of Portland's NCAA champion Women's Soccer team. UofP is also the alma mater of goalkeeper Kasey Keller. Disclaimer:I am neither an employee nor alumna of UofP. Can anyone picture a 300+ pound overfed American football linebacker playing soccer? Are Americans past puberty just too heavy for the constant motion of soccer? Or is the problem with soccer that the coaches did not play it when they were young and are not about to learn now? Speaking of coaches: they, not the players, are responsible for most of the strategy in baseball.



By: edcrane

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 16:02:27 -0800

The story of the 1-0 US defeat of England in 1950 has been made into a film: The Game of Their Lives.



By: dopamine

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 16:54:58 -0800

I think the size of the US is one of the reasons football's growth in the United States is never going to rocket into the popular mainstream. By this I mean that in all American professional sports, there is rarely more than one franchise per sport in a city, and all of these cities are considerable distances from each other. In many football playing countries, there are can be many professional teams in one city, often-times many top teams right down the road from each other. There seems to be a much, much greater sense of rivalry between clubs, something that helps stir the passion of the game beyond anything seen in any sport here in the US. You think Red Sox - Yankees is a big rivalry? Try Arsenal - Tottenham, Man U - Man City, Barcelona - Real Madrid. These are events that inspire levels of passion not seen in American sports, and in many respects, its these countless battles across all of the world's leagues that really drives the popularity of the sport, I think. It's very difficult to appreciate the meaning of a goal unless one is truly connected to the team scoring it (or being scored upon). The ability to appreciate the goal is the most crucial element of being a football fan, in my opinion. From that point comes the inevitable appreciation of the more fundamental aspects, the more nuanced subtelties of the game. Until you understand the goal, however, you will never know just how incredible the World Cup final will be if say, Germany and England are in the 87th minute, it's still 0 - 0, and David Beckham is lining up at about 22 yards out to take a free kick...



By: Devils Slide

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 17:09:52 -0800

I think America lost (even more) interest in soccer after the US team's loss to Iran in the '98 World Cup. A lot of American households had tuned in expecting the US to trounce Iran, and were disgusted with their team and the sport in general after the loss. But hey, even Scotland only managed to tie the Iranian team (1-1) in the '78 World cup, and they didn't even score a goal; one of the Iranian players inadvertently scored an own goal.



By: UseyurBrain

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 19:28:16 -0800

Can anyone picture a 300+ pound overfed American football linebacker playing soccer? Are Americans past puberty just too heavy for the constant motion of soccer?" Umm...there are not really a lot of '300 + pound' linebackers. That position not only has to hit hard and stop the run, but they also must be able to defend the occasional pass route. The 300+ player is on the offensive line. And, while they would not be able to run up and down the field for a long time without many breaks, you might be surprised at how fast some of even these big guys are in top college programs and in the pros.



By: Prince Nez

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 23:33:16 -0800

There's diving in hockey as well, and it's the most manly sport there is. What the... Oh, that hockey.



By: wilful

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 23:51:56 -0800

It seems a bit absurd to me that Gridiron players are 'manly' - erm, hello, what about all the armour you're wearing? Try Aussie rules or rugby, sans protection, for a far more physically demanding game.



By: funambulist

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 01:55:02 -0800

There's no reason that the US has to adopt a sport just because it's popular everywhere else Absolutely, but still, it's a bit sad if that comes with that kind of prejudice that soccer is not a real or manly sport or something (and, the idea itself that there has to be a 'manly' quality to a sport, that's a very relative concept). More so because I think it's just an excuse, a rationalisation after the fact. Soccer is not huge in the US because other sports are already huge and they got all the money/venues/infrastructure/advertising etc.. It's also to do with the history of those sports. I don't think one can artificially import a sport's mass popularity into another country, bypassing the original path that led to that popularity in the context it developed. Long before they were involving big money, soccer and to some extent also cycling (which someone mentioned as another sport not big in the US and also seen as not manly enough, despite Lance's victories) have had a tradition of being popular - to play and to watch - among the working classes and in places afflicted by poverty, and many of the best loved players and more legendary figures are classic rags to riches stories. Even now that so much money is involved, there's still that history and that kind of attachment, as well as the history of local rivalries dopamine mentioned above. That cannot be exported with a marketing operation from above, same as attempts to make American football or baseball big where soccer already took the main stage as the people's sports would be artificial, because there'd be no related social tradition of turning to those sports as mass entertainment and as 'chance to make it' and so on. It'd be perceived as an elite thing. That's the kind of 'prejudice' I can understand a lot more than the 'sports for pussies' one.



By: Chunder

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 02:01:58 -0800

The best bit about the American understanding of football has to be the recent Budweiser commercial - "Budweiser Academy" on UK tv. A fantastic spoof of the US football team training for the World Cup ('cos Bud is one of the sponsors)... Unfortunately it wasn't available for download from the Bud site.



By: psmealey

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 02:29:57 -0800

erm, hello, what about all the armour you're wearing? Try Aussie rules or rugby, sans protection, for a far more physically demanding game. I have watched Aussie Rules and played rugby, and both of those sports are rough, no question. But, it's not a stretch to say that, in the NFL at least, if the players were to go without helmets and pads, there would be at least one death per game. I don't like NFL football much anymore, but it's a sport that requires at least as much physical courage (or crazy) as sports like downhill skiing and racecar driving. A buddy of mine from France had the same attitude about it until I took him to a game. He couldn't believe how violent it was. It's really on a different plane from those other two.



By: bjrubble

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 02:57:38 -0800

It seems a bit absurd to me that Gridiron players are 'manly' - erm, hello, what about all the armour you're wearing? Try Aussie rules or rugby, sans protection, for a far more physically demanding game. I've heard that modern boxing (with padded gloves) is considered much more brutal than old-fashioned bare-knuckle boxing, because the padding protects bony parts (like fists) better than it protects fleshy parts (like heads and torsos). In other words, it's the gloves that let you hit somebody hard enough to cause a concussion. I think American football is similar. The padding just means that the critical trauma isn't superficial cuts or broken bones, but head trauma and deep musculoskeletal injury. (On preview, what psmealey said. I shudder to imagine two 250-pound guys at full sprint colliding with each other without padding. It would be downright homicidal.)



By: bjrubble

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 03:19:32 -0800

Just to make an on-topic observation, I love playing soccer -- I play several times per week on recreational teams -- but as a spectator sport, it is BORING. I'll watch the occasional game because British pubs are great places to drink. I'd pick basketball as the best spectator sport. The tight confines of the court make the game intensely personal, and show off the athleticism with unparallelled immediacy. And between small arenas and HDTV, fans are much closer to the players than in any other major sport. I'm just about the most lukewarm sports fan around, but watching the NCAA tournament on HD was just awesome.



By: Keefa

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 04:46:04 -0800

I'd say basketball is actually closer to soccer than American football is, certainly in terms of the runs the players make, the fakes, the different passes, although, of course, the build-up in an attack in normally much slower in soccer and the tackles are a bit more meaningful. For me, nothing comes close to soccer as a sport. It's the ultimate team game, but also the best team game in which an individual can bring a game to life or really make a match-winning contribution with a display of individual skill. Of course, tactically, it is involved and players have to be disciplined and there is an art to every single movement of a player from their first touch when the receive the ball ('i.e. where can I best position my foot/thigh/chest/head so that the ball will go in the optimal direction at the best speed to make my next move?') to the timing of a tackle.



By: Keefa

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 04:49:10 -0800

Also, because it is such a low scoring game, every decision a player makes is crucial: if a defender messes up it could well be game over. How can that not be exciting?



By: psmealey

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 05:27:47 -0800

I agree with that. I suspect that most people that find soccer boring as a spectator sport don't really understand the game all that well. It's one thing to play it recreationally, but to truly "get it", when you see a couple of very subtle things happen, and KNOW that a goal is about to come, is a joy. I will grant you that watching soccer at the lower levels (e.g. NCAA, or the slopply play often seen in MLS), can be a bit uninteresting, but watching EPL, Serie A, or Spanish leagues are truly things to behold. I'm not one for spectator sports, but when games from those leagues are on, it's difficult for me not to be transfixed by them, regardless of who happens to be playing. By the same token, I find basketball to be tedious and uninteresting, but I freely admit that I don't really understand the game past basic tactics (pick and roll, box and one, backdoor play, etc.) .



By: jack_mo

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 05:30:03 -0800

but as a spectator sport, it is BORING On telly, yes, it can be - you need to go to a match: always thrilling. Even no score draws in the pissing rain between no-mark teams at the arse end of the lower divisions. (Honestly, I swear!) There seems to be a much, much greater sense of rivalry between clubs, something that helps stir the passion of the game beyond anything seen in any sport here in the US. Yeah, in my experience, Americans, even the dedicated sports fans, just don't seem to care very much about their team - hence that weird American concept of the 'sports fan', totally alien to the football supporter, for whom the club is paramount. Well, I'm sure they do care, but you only have to compare footage of a crowd at a football match to footage of the stands at a baseball or American football game to see how weirdly unengaged US sports fans appear to the rest of the world. An example of the insanity of football supporters: on finding out that I'm from Merseyside, a Fiorentina fan I know hugged me and shook me by the hand. He did this in thanks for the Heysel stadium disaster, in which 39 Juventus fans died after a dividing wall collapsed on them under the pressurre of a charge by Liverpool fans. I felt sick, but realised my own behaviour at football matches is rooted in the same sort of deranged hatred for rival clubs and equally deranged love for my own. You wouldn't get that kind of thing happening in the US, would you? (Genuine question - it may just be that the Americans I've met weren't as keen on sport as others...)



By: brilliantmistake

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 05:50:15 -0800

There seems to be a much, much greater sense of rivalry between clubs, something that helps stir the passion of the game beyond anything seen in any sport here in the US. I have great difficulty explaining to an American friend why I'm such an avid supporter of Aston Villa (at least ten seasons of rank mediocrity playing intensely boring football but once a Villan always a Villan) or why this season, by some distance the worst in recent memory, will be seen as a success if only Birmingham City get relegated...



By: funambulist

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 06:39:04 -0800

An example of the insanity of football supporters... That level of ugly insanity and hooligan violence (and racism) can be a big alienating factor. I guess that also contributed to an unpopular image of soccer in the US. But on the healthy side of being a soccer fan (I'm not, but having one side of the family from the UK, the other from Italy, I've always been surrounded by the madness) the rivalry can be lots of fun, and then the lengths people can go to follow their team around, across different countries too. That is a nice byproduct, provided the thugs are kept in check. Too bad some clubs don't do enough to that end.



By: peacay

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 07:07:46 -0800

Speaking of the commercialization angle, Stallone made Victory - a WWII football film - without doubt the most appalling piece of fatuous celluloid odiousness ever foisted on humanity. I'm not sure what this says about the present debate however. Personally I couldn't give a flying fuck about what Mr/Ms middleAmerica thinks about football or its popularity level. USA have in recent times had a pretty good team. I like to watch their national side play. They contribute to the world mix, just not in their usual proportions. As a fleeting abstract though I think that the role USA has in football is approximately the role the rest of the world thinks it ought to hold in the political arena.



By: Atreides

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 07:21:45 -0800

Another supporter of the failure of soccer to catch on in the U.S., due to its apparent, if not true, boring nature for spectators. I played soccer from age 6 to age 15 and loved every minute of it. I can understand the excitement that one can feel as the ball is maneuvered about the field and brought into that moment where a socre might be made...but most Americans don't. For many, its just the ball being kicked back and forth between two, maybe three players until it either A) goes out of bounds B)the other team steals it or C)its kicked at the goal but fails to go in or get past the goalie. The majority of the game boils around A and B. Even myself, I have to have a connection with the team I'm watching to really get excited by it. The game is usually low scoring and does consist of passing and dribbling, and due to the fact that most attempts on goal fail, unentertaining for the average American. In football, and even baseball, every play or pitch holds the potential that something will happen. A pass might be made for a touch down, the ball might be carried for a fifty yard run, you're actively inching closer to the endzone (apparent progress is being made). Baseball is the same, albeit slower, every pitch could put a man on base, and then advance that man around the bases, increasing the chance that he has to potentially score. Every pitch could result in a home run. Any hit which does occur, might also result with a fantastic movement of action by a fielder to prevent the other team's baseward advance. In soccer, while you can certainly pick up this mood, (watching the ball cross the half field mark, move on the penalty box, etc...), due to the nature of the game and the lack of experience by many Americans, it simply isn't readily apparent. There's no recognizable advancement for people to follow, feel the tension rise, like in the aforementioned sports. Too much of the game is boiled down to moments where the only action is dribble, dribble, pass, pass, between two players. If players scored more often or if the ability for the tension to rise was increased, I think Americans would watch more. The same problem does exist for Hockey. Which is why Hockey is one of the least watched sports in America. Its really a regional sport of Canada and the northern United States which managed to somehow inflate itself into the national spectati[...]



By: hatchetjack

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 08:07:40 -0800

Being a fan is helped greatly by knowing what a ball at your feet feels like. For someone with no experience I wonder if the pros make the game look almost too easy. Its hard to appreciate things like this without any context. In high school I was at the University of Wyoming fieldhouse playing a club match and the cheerleaders had scheduled the space after we were done. Off to the side, I hear one male cheerleader say to another, "Soccer is such a fag sport."



By: hatchetjack

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 08:12:37 -0800

Man, Ima tard. I meant, Things like this.



By: cell divide

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 08:18:29 -0800

I used to have no interest in soccer, then came FIFA for SNES and the 94 World Cup which took place in America, but while I was in Spain. Now I still don't follow soccer leagues, but I am avidly playing FIFA 2006 on PS2, so I know the player names, and I go crazy for the World Cup. There's no greater sporting event then the World Cup, it makes all of soccer's problems as a game disappear. Eurocup is also fun.



By: basilwhite

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 08:33:18 -0800

I played soccer the first year they had a soccer league for kids in Memphis - 1975. Soccer is my favorite sport - TO PLAY. The sports that are telegenic are those where you can see all the action on the screen, hence the following telegenic order of sports: 1) boxing 2) tennis 3) basketball 4) hockey 5) baseball 6) American football 7) soccer 8) golf btw, I played semi-pro American football and *I* find American football unwatchable. The field action that shows why a play worked and didn't work is clipped off the screen. basilwhite dooot coom



By: basilwhite

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 08:42:14 -0800

Prediction: put rugby in the Olympics and Americans will devour it.



By: psmealey

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 09:29:38 -0800

Prediction: put rugby in the Olympics and Americans will devour it. I have often wondered why rugby has not caught on in any scale in the US. It is beautiful, flowing sport, filled with brutality and finesse, and its rules aren't altogether different from American football. I wonder, though, if like lacrosse, it suffers from the Biff syndrome; it's been branded as a preppie sport that's only for guys who went to Andover and Hotchkiss.



By: dash_slot-

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 10:53:14 -0800

A report about Gretna FC getting to the Scottish FA cup Final gaves a flavour of what Brits say it's all about:
Gretna's club, which formed in 1946, entered the Scottish football league at the third attempt in August 2002. They won promotion to Division Two in 2005 and won that league last month, ensuring First Division football next season. Yesterday's game at Hampden was a far cry from the crowds of 50 the team was used to when they played in England's Unibond League only four years ago.
It's a fairytale come true, a bit like the US uni side getting to thrash the majors recently [GMU?]. Sadly, this sort of thing is becoming rarer, but can still happen. And yes - I know it's not only in football that this occurs. But in knockout tournaments that the Brits love so much, it is part of the romance of the game.



By: ethirolle

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 12:48:10 -0800

I play soccer, AND I love to watch soccer. Clearly, the "boring" factor is in the eye of the beholder. I am sure it does help that I am a player - I better appreciate the skill, and I am inspired by the players to incorporate some of their techniques into my game. I watch no other sports, in most respects I am not a sports fan, but I really, really enjoy watching soccer played at top level: e.g., English Premier League, or the Champions League (all-Europe club championship). 'Nuf said. It just kills me when I hear that old "soccer is boring to watch" saw.



By: magpie68

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 16:00:58 -0800

peacay, you'll find the linked article talks about the film "Victory" aka "Escape to Victory" for a whole paragraph. The film has a special place in the hearts of most British footy fans, starring, as it does, lots of top players from the 60s and 70s plus Michael Caine. Yes it's fatuous but lovably so. IIRC the allied PoWs didn't win as claimed in the piece, but fought back to a 4-4 draw (tie) before the crowd - chanting "victoire" - invaded the pitch and spirited away the players. On the popularity of our respective "footballs" it seems to me that the same aspects of each game that proponents like about it are those that the detractors dislike. Gridiron being violent, discontinuous, high-scoring, complex and stats-heavy pleases gridiron fans; soccer being low-contact, low-scoring, flowing, simple and stats-light pleases me and other soccer fans.



By: peacay

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 16:21:13 -0800

magpie68 I'm guilty as implied - I didn't read it. I was just mouthing off to the ether. It was Stallone's incredibly wooden and unbelieveable performance that grated with me at a 2am viewing some years back. Sure it was cool to see some of the players but it struck a painful chord with me overall. I don't remember the game much though. It's not like British sports fans don't have an appreciation for stats - cricket.



By: jack_mo

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 16:54:06 -0800

It's not like British sports fans don't have an appreciation for stats - cricket. And football. I know folk who can talk at length comparing the number of free kicks awarded in home games in different seasons in the 1920s, and any half-decent football commentator will litter their chat with incredibly arcane factoids. On boringness - it's defo down to unfamiliarity. I can't watch American football or baseball for more than a couple of minutes, because both games are, to my eyes, unbearably tedious, but I suspect that if I knew what the fuck was going on, they'd be just as enjoyable as football, rugby or boxing. (Though the fact that most of the time nothing is going on would remain off-putting.)



By: joedan

Mon, 03 Apr 2006 20:08:20 -0800

Winning Eleven 8 made me a lot more interested in the sport. Winning Eleven 9 makes FIFA 2006 look like shit in comparison, btw.



By: magpie68

Tue, 04 Apr 2006 16:35:55 -0800

peacay, you mean Stallone's "hey, I got hands, you got feet"? I take your point about cricket. Don't get it myself. Love the run chase at the end, sometimes, but the rest.... And jack_mo: I spent an enjoyable evening actually explaining the rules of baseball to a British friend of mine in a bar in New Orleans while watching a Diamondbacks red sox game (?) and after that he said he enjoyed watching it. I suppose that says something.



By: dash_slot-

Thu, 06 Apr 2006 14:14:28 -0800

Here's a fine example of the excitement that can be generated by a football match: Middlesbrough 4-1 Basle (agg 4-3) Eduardo's tap-in for the Swiss side left Boro needing four goals to win.... Which they duly got, including one in the 90th and final minute of normal play. Kinda reminds me of Man Utd's European Champions League win of a few years ago.



By: peacay

Fri, 07 Apr 2006 01:59:08 -0800

I feel soooooooo removed from real football in Oz. I think we get maybe an hours worth of mixed hightlights (although they do show some Champions League games live for the latter part of the tournament, I think) per week --- mixed meaning that it's pretty unpredictable. Unless you have pay-tv of course but even then I don't think the coverage is as good as I had in Hanoi. It sucks basically in relation to European football. But yeah...the Euro cup of '99 was pretty special. Also when Beckham scored against the Greeks in '02. That was pretty amazing and exciting. I much more easily get revved up by football than cricket though. Ever since Warney got in the side I reckon it's all had a bit of a bad taste about it for me. That said, the Ashes were as good as could be.