Friday, June 11, 2010

Yep, Soccer's Still Boring

When I got home from work, I turned on the TV to see highlights of the World Cup.  The World Cup is great, because I'm a sucker for international competition.  It's like the Olympics plus the Super Bowl--make that the Olympics times the Super Bowl--all rolled into one month-long tournament.  Americans seem as excited as ever about this year's Cup, but it doesn't even begin to compare to how much the rest of the World is losing its mind over the most popular game on the planet.

But as I watch the highlights of today's games, I'm struck by just how boring this sport really is to me.  Soccer fans, I know you're already mad at me.  You're saying, "Dave, you just don't understand soccer!" and "It's the most popular game in the World, how is that boring?"  Well, buckle up, because I'm going to tell you why I'm not wrong.  Write about why you're not wrong in your own blog.  Or just wait until the World Cup is over, because you know most of you are only soccer fans when the rest of the country starts to care about it.  You're like Michael Jackson fans; nobody had cared about him since 1995 until he died.

In two games today, there were two goals scored.  Total.  Those were the big highlights.  But we also sat on the edge  of our seats when one guy hit a post with his shot, and another one got a red card.  I understand soccer just enough.  I grew up playing soccer, plus I understand hockey and basketball, and the concepts are pretty much the same.  You push up or your press or you forecheck.  You draw the defense in, you go aggressively to the goal or to the basket.  But a soccer field (I don't want to call it a pitch) is bigger than a football field, and so it takes forever for plays to develop.  It's a fun game to play, but then again, so is every other sport I've ever played.

And don't get me wrong, I can appreciate how athletic soccer players are.  They have to be fit, and their balance and coordination have to be incredible.  Add to that that they can't touch the ball with their hands, and it makes for quite a challenging sport, but just because something is hard doesn't mean it's exciting to watch.  The Sunday Crossword puzzle is tough, but nobody wants to watch somebody work on it.

Is there a sport in America that more kids play than soccer?  We all play it, then when we turn eight and discover baseball and football, we quit.  Is that because we don't understand soccer?  We don't understand baseball or football when we start, but most of us would rather play them.  Hockey isn't a popular sport in most of this country like it is in Canada, but I'd argue that's because we don't grow up playing hockey.  Find somebody who has played hockey who doesn't still like it.  Hockey is fun to play and it's fun to watch.  There's a little more scoring usually, because there are a lot more scoring opportunities.  It moves faster.  Plus there are fights.

The biggest argument I always hear from soccer fans is the one about it being the World's favorite sport.  Have you ever considered the fact that the rest of the World likes soccer because they didn't know about baseball and football when they turned eight?  Or maybe they're all smarter than us.  Maybe Americans are too dumb to understand soccer.  

This is one dumb American who will be a big soccer fan as long as the American team is still alive, and significantly less of one for the rest of the Cup after we get eliminated.  I'll still be interested, because of the spectacle of it all.  One thing I can't argue with is the passion of the fans.  We have nothing that compares.  Sure, we have some pretty nutty football and basketball fans, but that's limited to certain places.  Soccer fans are crazy everywhere, and those things that sound like bee hives are pretty cool too.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch a game this weekend.  You'll see.