Having lived in soccer-mad Holland for a little while, I developed an appreciation for soccer. I, unlike most Americans apparently, can understand how a game that ends up 1-0 or even scoreless can be a thing of beauty, a demonstration of tremendous athletic skill.
Not that the conversation comes up very often in my life, but I tend to be a defender/supporter of what much of the rest of the world calls football. Even while realizing that in America it will probably not become anything bigger than a game played by young girls and a few college athletes -- at least not until we have a Hispanic population that dwarfs what it is today -- I have hoped soccer would gain some traction in the USA.
But on Sunday evening on the radio, I heard the best argument yet against soccer, or rather the best argument as to why it will never be popular in America. I didn't catch the name of the talk radio host; if anyone else did, please let me know so I can properly attribute the comment.
Essentially, he said this:
America is a country that loves (American) football and at least likes hockey. These are games with hard hitting, where we cheer when a guy gets smashed trying to catch a pass down the middle of the field but then gets up to run back to the huddle for the next play. Where we cheer hockey fights (but not as much as we used to) and appreciate the artistry of a well-executed body check, not sure whether we hope that a guy loses a tooth.
Soccer, on the other hand, is a game in which players flop and dive when another player touches an ankle or looks at them the wrong way; they act like my 2-year old when he doesn't get the chocolate he wants.
Indeed, perhaps "act" is the most appropriate word. We don't watch sports to see guys with enormous legs pretending to be Sean Penn or some other whiny over-acting primadonna.
And I think the commenter was right. These pathetic dives, this acting to try to get the other guy in trouble, will indeed keep soccer from becoming popular in America. I don't want to see even a hint of a tear unless a bone is sticking through a leg. And neither does any other American.
So, while soccer is still the Beautiful Game, I think I've been convinced that it really isn't an American game.
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