Dear American Soccer Hater,
We really need to talk. I know that it has been a while since we’ve chatted. You see, I’ve had a few other things on my mind lately.
There’s been this small competition going on in South Africa, of that sport you so love to hate: Soccer. (I don’t dare call it “football,” I know how much that bothers you, and I’d like you to finish this letter. I’ll avoid use of the following as well: pitch, boots, kit, nil and anything that references extra-, added- or injury-time, if possible.)
You and I haven’t seen eye to eye on much lately. And, I was starting to worry that your ranks were growing. I mean, Glenn Beck agrees with you. And Jim Rome agrees with you too.
I used to try to convince you that you had it all wrong. I tried to sway you. I would use statistics and anecdotes that remind you how behind the times you are.
Stories like how well ESPN is doing. With helpful facts that the US team’s recent win against Algeria was ESPN’s most watched soccer game ever, most watched non-holiday morning telecast ever, the highest watched program of any type on any network for key advertising audiences all day. They even had 180,000 people listening in online.
I would try to demonstrate the power of interest in the USA v. Algeria game by explaining it created the second most amount of Internet traffic ever. Of course, it couldn’t top the list. That high bar was set by the opening of the World Cup.
I might have shared stories of how the end-of-game drama of the USA v Algeria match drastically reduced stock trading on Wall Street.
Heck, I would even spam you full of videos of other Americans in rapturous support of our team from all around the world.
Now I know… none of that matters. And while we soccer fanatics have won a few of you over, in general, you won’t change.
So, I’m done trying. No seriously, I’m fully, totally, completely done.
And as they say so often when people realize they need a change: it’s not you, it’s me. In fact, it’s not that you won’t change, but I’ve come to realize something else, something very different.
What I realized was, that we don’t need you.
We, the “oddball American soccer lovers,” the immigrant fans, the youth-team leaders and the people playing pickup games on Saturday or after work, we are doing just fine without you.
I mean, it’s not just that we have new cool friends. Which we do. (You know, we have the President and Vice President, we have Reggie Bush and OchoCinco, and heck… even the somewhat logically connected Playboy Playmate and Bill Clinton have hopped on the US Soccer bandwagon.
It’s not just that we have a successful domestic league now. Which we do.
It’s not just that we can see as much soccer from a variety of countries nearly any day of the week, year round. Which we can.
It’s not just that our kids are playing the game as much or more than ever, and now can have a viable path to a professional career in the sport they love. Which they do.
It’s all those things, and more.
It’s also that the more I see you, the more you seem irrelevant. You sound out of touch. You feel like yesterday’s news.
For those who try to convince me that the “USA will never be a soccer nation.” I say it already is.
I also note that the nation no longer looks like the (almost always) wonder-bread white guys who are preaching of soccer’s ridiculousness on television.
I believe that the younger generation does indeed know who Ronaldihno and Cristiano Ronaldo are. (Even if primarily through their PlayStation or Xbox 360.)
The USA, or to potentially be more accurate the collective of people who live here, is already a soccer nation. Our league might not be as well attended as the NFL. That’s fine. But, just like soccer, it’s ours and as far as I can tell, it’s not going anywhere.
So please know that when your sentences start with “you know why soccer will never catch on in America…” I may look like I’m listening, but from that second on, you sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher to me.
Because I’m done.
To me, having you join our parade would be great, but we are marching either way.
And as long as I see Americans with this kind of passion marching through Seattle on their way to a stadium for an MLS Game, as in the above video, or those that sing America the Beautiful, while half-way across the world in a men’s room in a South African stadium during half-time of a World Cup game, as in the below video…
There’s one thing I know, sooner or later, you’ll be marching too. Or we will just step right over.
Dude, beautiful! Seattle has ALWAYS been a “soccer” town and always will be! You’re right, we will just march right over “them”.
Thanks Sheva… I work with people in Seattle every day, and there are many ways where our Revs are pretty woeful in comparison. On this blog I’ve called Seattle my soccer mistress, though I’m married to New England. 🙂
A sad, sad “sports writer” from Maine on Twitter (who I do not follow) sent me one his paint-by-numbers “soccer sucks” articles and was blown away by all the people who started attacking him right away based on his b.s. comments. He was more surprised than I would be if I opened up my fridge and found Zuul in there. I love this article, man, great as per usual.
Cheers Jim, thanks for reading…
If Soccor is such a great sport in the US…why do all of our BEST athletes (Ocho Cino you mentioned), end up playing other sports??? Hmmmmm – maybe soccer is a little kids game designed to keep you in good shape for other sports…stop trying, soccer will never be a major sport here. That is ok, stop trying to force the issue.
Thanks for your deep insight on the sports landscape, you’ve clearly given this a lot of thought.
But, in living up to the theme of this article, I have no interest in having this deep, meaningful debate with you – however much I might stand to learn.
By the way, yes, most every word of that was sarcastic. But hey, thanks for commenting….
You missed the whole point of the article,.. NO ONE IS TRYING TO FORCE FEED YOU THIS GAME!! IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT.. GET LOST!! AND DON’T POST HERE! WE DON’T CARE IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT!!! WE DON’T CARE FOR IT TO BECOME BIGGER THAN NFL or NBA or OBESEBALL!! The truth is that the game is getting ever popular and there is a growing fan base in the US.
Its almost like the american sports supporters feel threatened.. Its like they are a big bully on their own turf and act tough, but at the same time in the back of their minds they feel threatened by this other sport that is internationally bigger than NFL or NBA will ever be.
The thought of futbol ever becoming big in the USA is just unthinkable, just like the big bully who can’t accept that someone bigger, stronger and more popular might one day invade his turf. So the futbol-haters who feel threatened have to constantly resort to their childish negative comments about this beautiful game..
The whole point of this article was that WE DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK!! SO go ahead a make your pointless comments,. It Just gives us passionate futbol fans more reason to love it and makes us feel thankful that we DO “get it” and aren’t as close minded as those who just wish to put it down.
love the article, growing up in upper new york and played only american football and hockey, after having a stayed with armed forces in germany and watching bayer munich play, i have been a huge fan of the sport. my kids dont watch any football or hockey but watch european league of soccer. i just love that sport and wished my high school had that sport as a major sport, my kids participate in it and i feel as a parent glad that they do. to my american brethren wake up and dont take the propaganda of hate from the media because they have a lot to loose if soccer is a major participent, remember its all about money and knowledge.