24 July 2010

Why the US Hasn't Caught Soccer Fever

The recent World Cup revealed a number of reasons that soccer is unlikely to ever catch on in the US.

Perhaps the most obvious reason soccer will have trouble winning the hearts of American sports fans is that it is a constant challenge to how Americans make sense of the world. We know that we are the reason that we are the richest and most powerful nation in the world. Just as the Germans, British, Dutch, Spanish, and Italians before us, we misconstrue our fortune of having been born into such privilege with the fact of our actually being special. American exceptionalism means, of course, that we Americans are exceptional. Regularly unable to beat teams from countries 1% our size, we are reminded that this simply is not so. Fans simply want to cheer. They don't want cognitive dissonance with their color commentary.

Another thing about the game that offends any reasonable American is its inefficiency. You can't use your hands? What are you supposed to do with that half of your body? Given their hands are free, you might expect that the players would at least be texting.

Any self-respecting American is clear that a person needs a goal. Without goals, one's life just meanders from place to place ... like the ball on a soccer field. Everyone should have a goal but apparently no one has told soccer fans. They seem perfectly content to watch 90 minutes of a game that is played, uninterrupted by a single goal.

Finally, one has only to watch a single game to realize why so many of the countries that love soccer are poor. This game never pauses. There is no opportunity for ads that remind fans that after the game they could go shopping. Compare that with any American sport. Even if there is not a single change in pitchers, baseball is good for at least 18 commercial interruptions. The last "five" minutes of football can take 50. Consumers drive the American economy and if we were to become soccer fans, our economy would likely collapse to the level of Argentina's or Cameroon's. It seems to me that the single simplest stimulus to economic growth that these soccer-crazed countries could undertake would be to change the rules so that commercial breaks are taken every 4 to 5 minutes rather than every 45 minutes. Until that happens, we Americans don't just have a right but actually have an obligation to show tepid interest in soccer.


Anonymous said...

David went down to LA on Thursday to see the Galaxy play and loved it.

Thomas said...

I think the best part of soccer is the hooliganism.