This post has been influenced by Tweets I’ve been reading during the World Cup from Americans I follow, Opie and Anthony discussing it on their show and also comments on YouTube videos of hatred. Let me start by saying, I don’t hate America or Americans. Many people have been commenting on US Soccer videos bad mouthing Americans, in a shitty attempt to troll. Well, I don’t believe you need to be spoken down to when it comes to soccer. Sure, Yes, the rest of the world loves the sport and you guys don’t. That’s fine, I just wanted to list some points as to why I enjoy it myself and why I feel it is so popular. As well as address some of the points raised against the sport by some people.
Heads up. I may use pitch and field interchangeably, ditto game and match!
My Favorite Aspect of Soccer vs Current American Sports
Let me give my biggest reason why I love soccer. Not the World Cup but the every day, every season game. The league championships are amazing. They don’t play 150+ games a year like baseball, they don’t just play 16 like in Football. Also, it does happen every season like the American sports. Sometimes with Football, Baseball and even Major League Soccer in the US, I get frustrated. What are they really playing for other than TV ratings and high salaries? The Superbowl? So what!?!, they might win it every year and if they don’t, who cares, there’s always next year.
In Professional soccer in pretty much every other country. There’s a relegation zone. For example; in England. They have different tiers of leagues, I’ll use Baseball as an example.. You have the major leagues and you have the minor leagues. Well, in soccer and in England, if your team finishes in the bottom 3 for the season. BYE BYE! You have to play in the Minor leagues next year. Similarly, the top three teams from the minor league get promoted. And this happens every season. It means variety each year and also means huge money is on the line, as well as Pride. Almost every small ass village or town has their own team and they have the ability to ascend through their minor league to move up the next tier and up again until they, maybe get to the top league. This also means each village or town take pride in their teams to a different level than in other sports. A lot of people in Tennessee supported the Dallas Cowboys before the Titans were created. Portland has a B side team for Hockey that can never go anywhere.
And just so it doesn’t seem like I’m knocking American sports too much. Each year my country plays a Rugby tournament against the same six teams. I don’t get the lure of that at all…there should be consequences for sucking!
It’s just kicking a ball back and forth
Many people seem to think they just kick the ball and that’s easy and it’s dumb. When you’re playing against people at the level which it takes to make a national team or a professional club, it’s not so simple. Hell, even when I played back in Ireland, After the age of 15 it got tough! You have seconds or milliseconds to get rid of the ball or you’ll lose possession. You look down to watch the ball as it comes to you, you look down to stop the ball and get it under control. When you look up you need to assess the situation very quickly. Almost like a QuarterBack. If you take too long, you’re going to lose the ball. The fact it looks so simple is a credit to the quality of players we’re watching. Any slip up or mistake can be costly. For example, The English Premier League went down to the wire this year. Liverpool were in the running to win for the first time in decades and then this happened (The start of the video is the player who made the mistake, ironically telling his team mates that they will not let it slip):
Also, shooting! There’s a reason there’s not many goals. It’s tough to get the time and space to get a shot off AND it’s tough to even get a shot on target.
The Goal is too big
Believe it or not. The goal is actually the perfect size. Goals are smaller for younger age levels to match the size of the would be goalkeepers. When you’re in the center of the goal, the only time it’s impossible for you to save it is when the ball is put right up in the top or bottom corner. It may be out of reach for the keeper and seem crazy but again, shooting is not that easy. It’s tough to get the ball into those exact spots and it’s an impressive skill. The Goalkeepers are also usually the tallest players on the field. The skill involved for the keeper is positioning in front of the goal and reaction times.
Also dumb personal problem I have. A few times when trying to kick the ball really hard when taking a shot, I’ve pulled my groin. Needless to say, my shots go nowhere near the top corner and I have a lousy fuckin’ groin!
The field is too big
When you say or think this. Remember, these guys run for almost 50 minutes before a break and then get 12 minutes of a break before going out and running for another 50 minutes (give or take) They have to cover a lot of ground due to the size of the pitch. The closer the players are together, the easier it is to pass. The size of the field makes it even more of a challenge as you need to constantly run around to be close to your player with the ball to give him options. Also, the two defenders out on either side of the field will run the entire length of the field at times. The guys in midfield who are on either side, run the entire length of the field all game. They run back into their own half to chase the ball when defending and run forward when attacking. It’s exhausting and a huge feat of physical fitness.
Just like in Hockey and Football players can also be offside. You can’t be ahead of the last opposition player (other than the goalkeeper) when the ball is played to you. Which makes it more challenging. Also If you pass the ball back to your goalkeeper because you’re under pressure and figure passing back makes that an easy problem to solve, remember he cannot pick it up and he’s usually a big Lummox of a man who can’t control the ball worth a shit.
What we’re seeing on tv is a tournament that will last a few weeks and involves 32 National teams. Americans may have heard that the US played against the likes of Mexico, Panama, Guam etc. in order to Qualify. Similarly around the world in different regions. Countries of all sizes got to play in an attempt to qualify for the tournament. For example, growing up in Ireland. Our national team played teams from the Faroe Islands, Cyprus and Andorra throughout the years. Whilst playing Andorra their first choice goalkeeper could not play. He couldn’t play because he couldn’t get the time off work for the match. He worked in a peanut factory, No Bullshit!. You have Amateurs playing against Professionals
Like Anthony on Opie and Anthony explained. In many poor countries they don’t even have a soccer ball. Kids might take off their sweaters to use as goal posts and kick a can around or a coconut or something else and play the sport. In fact, those countries are some of the best in the world. Brazil and Argentina for example. Many don’t have the means to buy cleats, padding, a basketball hoop and net, Hockey sticks etc. But anyone can play soccer.
I know Baseball actually does have a World Championship with the World Baseball classic but it’s pretty limited to certain countries right now. I actually read a great article when it was on, that suggested the goal should be to make it like the World Cup. I think it would be great fun to see the US play Ireland in Baseball!
Professionals make a pittance when playing for their Country
National team players do get paid ‘match fee’s’ but in comparison to what they get paid for their clubs. It’s nothing. Also, don’t forget they can get injured during these games and get taken out for a year or more! They usually only get a few thousand per player with more if they win a tournament. I think the best comparison is Olympic Hockey and Olympic Basketball when the US submits an All Star team. Only, unlike those sports, every country has the ability to compete.
They Dive and Act Like Assholes
The majority of athletes just seem to be assholes but soccer has a special kind of asshole. The one’s that act like they are hurt and dive on the ground like they’ve been shot to trick the referee’s and unfortunately they only get punished if the referee is sure they are play acting otherwise they get away with it. It’s something they need to get under control because it really is destroying the game. It wasn’t always like this. When growing up the English league did not have this problem, it does now. It seemed to start in the Italian and Spanish leagues and as those players went to play in other countries it’s caught on and everybody does it now. It sucks!
The only defense I could possibly give in those situations when a player is actually tackled and goes down like a little bitch. It’s kind of like Basketball, these guys are running all game. They may be fit but there’s also some exhaustion in there. When you get tripped or tackled and are exhausted you really feel things a lot more. I caught a knee to the chest in the 30th minute of a match before and felt like I was going to die. I was just winded but your senses go crazy. Or at least that’s one theory. But still, no excuse for those cheats that don’t get hurt at all and play it up. By the way Clint Dempsey broke his nose last night against Ghana and continued playing.
The fuckin game can end in a tie!?
A big criticism from some American sports fan’s is that games can end in a tie. That’s true during the first phase of the World Cup, in the next round it’s a win or lose affair. But yes, during regular season league games they can end in a draw but it actually keeps things more competitive. A draw can fuck up a big clubs season and can keep a losing club in the league for the next year. If they all went to extra time and penalty kicks, the superior team with all the money and the big name players would likely win 9 times out of ten and you might think that’s fair. But it gives everybody a chance and it keeps the matches exciting.
There’s no Draft
I believe the MLS has a draft but most countries do not when it comes to soccer. Instead, teams have their own Youth Academies and sign players at a young age. It’s actually one of the dark sides of the sport. A young player can be brought from a different country. The club pays for them and their family to move, the kid is treated like a God…until he develops and they realize he’s not the hot shit they thought he was and he’s gets dropped on his ass. The system is cool in some ways but brutal in others. I love the NFL Draft, it’s great that it keeps the league competitive each year but that only works in a system in which the same teams compete every year…which personally I think kind of sucks. I love American Football but if my team doesn’t do well, it’s a case of a shrug of the shoulders and maybe next year.
It’s boring as shit!
I’ll give you that. Sometimes you can watch a match that ends 0-0 and it’s actually very entertaining but sometimes you see one that makes you just want to give up on the game completely. I once watched Leicester City play Coventry in a 0-0 games and I legit felt angry with myself for watching the whole thing. But the skill involved and effort added with the excitement in most games (because they all do mean something!) outweighs those few bad games in my opinion.
Also when following a club, it’s just like baseball in that you have the fun of speculating with people over who your team will sign. When you sign a good player everybody freaks out and goes and buys a new jersey with their name on the back. It’s a really cool feeling.
The Passion and Party Atmosphere
I can still remember as a 5 year old. Ireland won a World Cup game they weren’t given a chance in. Right after the final whistle, cars lined the roads. Irish flags and scarfs being waved out the windows and car horns blaring. Pubs are always packed during the games. Entire cities turn into ghost towns, busy streets will only have a few people on them during these matches. The entire country bands together. It’s really cool and also for the record although soccer is popular in Ireland, it is not our national sport. We play Hurling, Gaelic Football and Camoige. But when the national team plays, everybody is in!
I also watch Professional Wrestling which you might read and think, no wonder he likes soccer. Faking being hurt HAHAHA! Fuck you!
Monday Night RAW is on every single week. I never watch it, it’s been shit since they got the naked ladies and blood out of it. But there’s one RAW I will watch every year and that’s the RAW after Wrestlemania because the English soccer fans are in attendance. Soccer crowds are the BEST! No doubt about it. Sure there’s some hooligans but they are usually extremist, skin headed Nazi’s trying to cause trouble and using a Sporting event to do it.
Here’s the Leeds United fans celebrating their club getting promoted to a higher league:
Here’s a post Wrestlemania RAW crowd:
Thanks for Reading…I’m sure I haven’t changed anybody’s opinion. Frankly, I personally believe a big reason why soccer is not popular in the US is because of it’s shitty presentation. ESPN is just awful with their coverage. Fox Soccer isn’t far behind. Also, traditionally and I’m not sure why but soccer has been labelled as a sissy sport here. Even before the diving and acting hurt became a THING. Some suggest it’s because the American people only like to follow sports that they reign supreme in. I’m not dumb enough to believe that’s why. With over 300 million people at this countries disposal, if America focused on soccer they would likely win the World Cup.
I heard an interview with a European player a few years ago who played in the US. He suggested Soccer will not be popular in the US because it’s image is being sabotaged. The big Pro Sports companies in the country have a vested interest. The TV Companies do not have the same amount of advertising opportunities (though they are finding new ways of getting them, which is shit when you compare to a match shown on tv in other countries) The Sporting equipment manufacturers make a lot of money with expensive ass American Footballs, Padding, Cups, Cleats, Helmets, Hockey jerseys and sticks and all of that junk. When there’s fewer breaks in action, there’s less people going to get a hot dog at the game. In fact, most stadiums for soccer don’t sell beer!!
I will still enjoy Hockey (which took me a long time to get into) I will still try to get into Baseball, I had fun going to the games in person. I will enjoy Football when it gets to the play-offs. I will still admire Basketball. And I will still love soccer!
If you need any more incentive to cheer on the USA. Remember, every other soccer fan out there knows you guys don’t like the sport. The fact the US is even in the World Cup while other nations who do love the sport are not, get’s up peoples asses. Add that with some of those pompous European fuck’s notions about America. Lumping all American people in with American foreign policy and you’ve got everybody wanting to see the US lose. I’ll leave you with this from an Irish person on Twitter last night:
Don’t you want to upset these people!? I loved it when that second goal went in! GO USA!