Miles From Fenway

We’re Lame
June 2, 2006, 2:18 pm
Filed under: sports

Ok folks, it’s time to admit it, as a nation, we’re some seriously lame sports fans.

I am going to get roasted by some people for saying that, but I’m not joking. Now I’ll admit, if you asked me to name as many soccer players as I could, off the top of my head, the only one I’d be able to come up with is David Beckham. And I’d wager a bet that most Americans are about on par with my soccer knowledge. It seems most suburban kids play the game until high school and then promptly drop any interest as soon as they hit puberty. Let’s face it, no MLS Championship game is ever going to draw the same kind of attention as the World Series or the Super Bowl.

But as the World Cup looms just a week away, I find myself wishing I had become a fan. Problem is, I was born in the wrong country. Even if I had been into soccer, I could never compare to the passion of those around the world. Even my fanaticism for the Sox could never compare. And honest, can anyone think of any sport that captivates Americans with the same enthusiasm?

Welshman, I know you’re more a rugby fan than you are a soccer fan, but weigh in here for me, I’m really curious to know what soccer really means over there. Am I over stating things? The media makes it out to look that countries all over the world are shutting down to watch the matches.


12 Comments so far
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I’ve noticed that soccer is HUGE in the area of Virginia I live in. The high schools all have teams, there are regional teams that form and travel during the summer, and every Saturday I see several games going on at the local HS and the park in my neighborhood. There was an Australian team that came last summer and they were really popular.
Before moving here, soccer was only thought about during the Olympics. I don’t even think I played it in school – ever. I’ve always wondered why it wasn’t a bigger deal here while it is everywhere else.

Comment by Itchy

But again, you’re talking about the youth level. Where I’m from in RI soccer is HUGE. EVERYONE played. Hell even I played (I was a goalie). But just look at the MLS attendance numbers. They’re nowhere NEAR what European teams draw. Some European teams have stadiums FAR bigger than our largest football stadiums.

Comment by FINY

Just because we don’t love one sport head-and-shoulders above all others doesn’t make us lame sports fans. Especially considering that sport is soccer. First of all, we’re Americans: We want choices. The NFL is huge. Baseball is big. Some people are major NBA fans. In some parts of the U.S., NASCAR and college football are followed almost religiously. Hell, your favorite sport can be hockey and everyone’s cool with that, too. Soccer is the most popular participatory sport for kids, but it doesn’t translate well to U.S. TV. No commercial breaks, no chances to go get more wings, 90 minutes of continuous running adding up to 3 goals, if you’re lucky. If that’s your cup of tea, more power to you, but if not, well, there’s nothing wrong with that. Yeah, it’s popular globally, but so is cricket and, like, men’s field hockey.

I think the thing is, if you’re raised watching it and idolizing those players, most people will probably keep on doing so. A lot of Americans, meanwhile, will tune into the World Cup, just to see what all the hubbub is about, just like we do during the Olympics with swimming or gymnastics.

Comment by mdn

mdn is right – soccer is not TV friendly, and therefore, most stations won’t broadcast it. Thank god for cable and Univision (watching soccer on Uni is much better than watching it on any U.S. station, IMHO)

Plus, there are just too many people who just hate soccer. Not apathy, not “whatever,” but outright hate. You hear it all the time on sports stations – people fucking RIP on soccer (it’s boring, it’s too low scoring, blah fucking blah… meanwhile, they’re showing 40 hours of Poker every week). It’s to the point where the perception is, if you’re a “true” american sports fan, you hate soccer.

And why? Ultimately, I think it’s because… well, compared to the world, we suck at soccer. As we get better, I’m sure you’ll see attitudes change, and it’ll finally be “cool” to like soccer. Until then? We’ll have to settle for the “I’ll care about it once every four years, but that’s it!” attitude.

For the record, I can name a few players… Freddie Adu (the 15 yr old kid). Paul Calgiuri. Cobi Jones. Casey Keller. David Beckham. Pele. Jarzihno (sp?). Ronaldo. Ronaldihno (sp?). Not that many, but then again, I don’t watch Univision that much.

Comment by mikey

Finy, I don’t disagree with you, but you are looking in the wrong places. Parts of this country are huge soccer hotbeds. Now this may sound strange but illigal immagration has actually led to increased soccer viewership. I can name some of the US team and some of the international stars, but whats the use. What has to happen is it needs to be reported on. Its kind of like hockey but played on grass. Some sports just show better on TV then others, hockey and soccer are not great on TV, however they still are great sports with avid fan basis.

Hopefully you realize that many many americans are planning vacations around the world cup in Germany!!

Comment by Ari

They could do anything they want with the World Cup: talk about how exciting it is, tell me interesting sidebar stories, act like I’m missing out on all the hullabaloo/hubbub/hocus pocus if I don’t watch. But I still won’t watch. Because it’s soccer. Even when I say I’m “rooting” for a team in the World Cup (example: the countries my parents were in in the Peace Corps), the thought of actually watching the game is less appealing than, well, than National League baseball. Which kind of illustrates this point: You like what you’re brought up with. Even as a huge Red Sox fan, I grew up completely ignoring the NL–part of the Red Sox’ sport!–so it’s like a different world to me. As is soccer. Granted, people change. I like a lot of things now I didn’t like growing up (example: that song that goes “you better, you better, you bet”). But in this case, for me, it’s the rules of soccer that are gonna have to do the changin’ for me to want to watch.

Or maybe they could play it at Fenway Park, only instead of soccer players, use Red Sox players. And instead of soccer, they could play baseball.

Comment by Jere

The enthusiasm and morale over here are ridiculous; all social activity is literally shutting down and you can’t not watch it without feeling left out. They are broadcasting the games in movie theaters and music venues, anywhere with a screen. My boyfriend actually said I can’t speak to him in the off chance that the U.S. ultimately ends up playing England and wins (won’t happen anyway.) These people are crazy excited!!

Comment by Meredith

Soccer is evolving & will become big. The sarcastic echoing of “Roger” comes from soccer matches in Britain.

Comment by Michael Leggett

I see everyone’s points. I guess all I was trying to get at was that I am jealous of the kind of unity it brings to certain countries (read meredith’s comment above). I mean certain areas of the country are into certain things, and yes sections can feel that way for college football or say, the Red Sox, but can you imagine the entire country unifying behind a national team? Come on, that’d be pretty cool.

Comment by FINY

Yeah, but the U.S. is very introverted and inward-looking. We don’t have regional rivalries like England/Germany. Hell, as the last superpower standing, we don’t really have any rivals at all.

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