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Lichtenstein: Soccer Is Boring TV, Which Is Why Most Americans Don’t Care About World Cup
CBS New York ^ | June 10, 2014

Posted on 06/10/2014 4:24:39 PM PDT by nickcarraway

Barring Unlikely Run By U.S., Planet's Biggest Sporting Event Lost On This Country

Soccer fever will grip the planet this week as the 2014 World Cup kicks off in Brazil. I already have a headache.

Before you pounce on me with derivations of “ugly American,” hear me out.

I know full well why this 32-team tournament has such a large global following, including a very healthycontingent of soccer nuts in this melting pot called the United States. For many countries, this is the most major team sport with which they grew up. Baseball may hail its World Series, but no one on either side of the Atlantic or Pacific oceans – other than Japan — plays it to such a serious degree. Football is even more a purely American phenomenon.

Only basketball has been able to make some inroads into the world sports culture, thanks to the powerful NBA marketing machine. But it’s still got a long way to go before it can even consider challenging soccer for sports supremacy in foreign countries.

Here in the U.S., however, soccer has never been able to make the leap in terms of making the impact that was projected following its hosting of the 1994 World Cup.

Sure, zillions of kids play it at various youth levels. Many play it all year around. Then they go home and watch the NFL on TV.

There’s no question that a strong run by the U.S. National Team would be a ratings bonanza, but that seems as unlikely as the Jets winning a Super Bowl in my lifetime. The U.S. isn’t even favored to advance beyond its three-game round robin in a difficult group. Our advantages in population and wealth haven’t helped in the past against Ghana, the thorn in the Americans’ side in the prior two tournaments and their opponent in Monday’s opener.

There’s a simple explanation for this: Our best athletes don’t play soccer. Like every sport played at the highest echelons, it takes years of dedicated practice to master the skills and other technical aspects of soccer. But can you imagine how imposing Calvin “Megatron” Johnson would be on crosses into the penalty area if he chose a soccer path over football? Or having someone like Russell Westbrook, who is so quick it looks like he can teleport himself on NBA courts, running loose in the midfield?

Then there’s LeBron James, the Heat star who already owns a piece of Liverpool in the English Premier League and has been reported to have been involved with investing in a potential MLS franchise in Miami. His athletic ability would seem well-suited for goalkeeping, with his 6-foot 8 frame, soft hands and outrageous sky-walking basically forcing opponents to be perfect with their shots.

In fact, the relative soccer talent deficit is so dire here that about a quarter of U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s roster is comprised of players who were born and grew up outside this country. I expect Ted Cruz to weigh in on this any day now on the Senate floor (though in seriousness those players were the product of at least one American parent — there isn’t any Andray Blatche situations).

It seems counter intuitive that a country that invests all the resources it does to develop soccer players from the youth levels through the national team hasn’t yet found its version of James. The sport’s participation rates have grown for the last 20 years and a healthy professional league has been formed, yet the U.S. lost to freaking Honduras and Costa Rica, which have a combined population equivalent to that of Pennsylvania, in the World Cup qualifying round.

So what is it then? I’ve heard excuses such as the excessive cost of training, which in turn excludes a large segment of athletes who can’t afford it.

But the truth is that many world-class soccer players hone and expand their skills the same way as those who play basketball — through pickup games in parks. You don’t need a rink or lots of equipment. Like basketball, if you have a ball and a goal, you can play soccer.

The soccer program in our suburban New Jersey town dwarfs every other youth sport, yet the kids are much more likely to congregate on the basketball courts (or, for that matter, the skate park) in our community park than on an open pitch to play soccer.

No, what’s holding us back is the realities of American television.

There’s a lot of bad TV programming out there, but watching soccer can be painful. It’s not just the lack of scoring (even the highest-caliber teams in the World Cup have combined for an average of about 2.3 goals per game in each of the last two tournaments), it’s the dearth of scoring chances.

What should we expect when the most common attack is four guys trying to infiltrate an array of eight packed tightly in the penalty area? It’s as if every team is coached by John Tortorella.

I mean, why should I get excited about watching Spain — the defending champions — play keep-away for 90 minutes?

Unfortunately, that’s the way the game is played and there’s nothing this country can — or should — do about it.

But it’s also why more American kids dream of being like Mike (Jordan) than Landon (Donovan — who didn’t survive Klinsmann’s final cut for this Cup despite his status as the best American player ever).

They can relate to the success of watching an athlete score a basket or touchdown. That gives them the impetus to go out and imitate those moves.

They rarely get that chance when soccer is on. With Donovan now a memory, the current goal-scoring leader for active U.S National Team players is Clint Dempsey — with 37 in 105 appearances. At that proportional pace, he’ll be good for one goal in this Group stage. Sure, I’m hoping Dempsey and the rest of the gang pull off a few upsets and advance to the Round of 16. I’ll probably even watch when the U.S. plays. Intermittently, of course, as there’s only so much inactivity I can take on my screen before I start to feel woozy.


TOPICS: Sports; TV/Movies
KEYWORDS: brazil; soccer; worldcup

1 posted on 06/10/2014 4:24:39 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

This is one American who dose not care!


2 posted on 06/10/2014 4:28:09 PM PDT by Red_Devil 232 ((VietVet - USMC All Ready On The Right? All Ready On The Left? All Ready On The Firing Line!))
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To: nickcarraway

Good to know that the people of Lichtenstein stand with us on this.


3 posted on 06/10/2014 4:29:36 PM PDT by x
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To: nickcarraway

One reason not mentioned is that many people in the US don’t like Europeans telling them what they should like.

He is actually wrong about baseball. It is played widely throughout Central and South America especially Venezuela, as well as Canada. It is also played at a fairly high level in Taiwan and South Korea. It is not just a Japanese/American thing. There is also growing interest in Baseball in China as the ethos of the game sort of fits well in a Confucian culture or at least that is my observation.


4 posted on 06/10/2014 4:32:33 PM PDT by Fai Mao (Genius at Large)
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To: Fai Mao

I think soccer and lacross are ridiculously stupid sports.


5 posted on 06/10/2014 4:36:50 PM PDT by bicyclerepair (The zombies here elected alcee hastings. TERM LIMITS ... TERM LIMITS)
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To: x

LOL


6 posted on 06/10/2014 4:38:48 PM PDT by Seaplaner (Never give in. Never give in. Never...except to convictions of honour and good sense. W. Churchill)
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To: nickcarraway
Well, after reading this entire screed, all I can say is:

Who really gives a rat's ass?

I'm supposed to care that the rest of the world cares that the US does not like soccer?

But, I will say, if they got rid of those damned annoying vuvezuelas or whatever the hell they are, that they constantly blow during the games, I might, maybe, watch a few minutes of it.

Nah, not really.

Soccer sucks.

I'll never watch it.

7 posted on 06/10/2014 4:39:08 PM PDT by OldSmaj (I am an avowed enemy of islam and obama is a damned fool and traitor. Questions?)
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To: bicyclerepair

Soccer is landscaping with cleats.......and a ball.


8 posted on 06/10/2014 4:44:00 PM PDT by Puppage (You may disagree with what I have to say, but I shall defend to your death my right to say it)
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To: nickcarraway

Football has to go. And you can see that the left is busy working on it. You are supposed to like soccer because the NWO has decided that is the world sport. Football is too American. They tried to take it overseas and it didn’t catch.

Y’all know we and the world are supposed to think alike.

Bye bye football.


9 posted on 06/10/2014 4:48:19 PM PDT by dforest
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To: nickcarraway

Golf on TV. With either 70 or 140 players playing at once, they can always find something to show. It may be something great, it may be a disaster. Can we see that shot from the fairway bunker into the middle of the lake again?


10 posted on 06/10/2014 4:51:04 PM PDT by proxy_user
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; cardinal4; ColdOne; ...

Boring on TV, but that’s only because it sucks.


11 posted on 06/10/2014 4:56:08 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: bicyclerepair
I think soccer and lacross [aka "lacrosse"] are ridiculously stupid sports.

I enjoy both soccer and lacrosse; however, I have seen so many soccer matches that I confess to being a bit sick of it. I coached youth soccer for many, many years so I know just a few of the more interesting elements.

The thing to remember in soccer is that it is a grand game of keep away, and that the defense is vastly favored. Goal scoring typically requires a few miracles. Some of the fun things to watch are ways that a team with the ball can try to lure the defense out.

What I do not like is the c.s. stuff, such as players faking injuries and players taking ball carriers down from behind in order to prevent a likely goal-scoring shot.

Also, the game is under-refereed, meaning that there is too little scrutiny of what all goes on. I also do not like teams "bunkering-up" defensively, in order to sit on a small lead.

I'll definitely catch a few WC games, and one hopes that the US team will distinguish itself (in the good way).

.

.

12 posted on 06/10/2014 4:56:41 PM PDT by Seaplaner (Never give in. Never give in. Never...except to convictions of honour and good sense. W. Churchill)
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To: nickcarraway

Lack of scoring isn’t a problem. After all we happily watched Super Bowl III (16-7 final). Sacks, touchdowns, interceptions, fumbles, long run backs, long completions, batted down passes, are all interesting even if a score doesn’t result. I don’t know what the soccer equivalents are. When I signed up for soccer in prep school, the coaches never even bothered to explain the rules, and they catered to guys with names like Kiki and Jose who already knew the rules. So you just run around until you don’t. Fine.


13 posted on 06/10/2014 4:58:22 PM PDT by Dr. Sivana ("If youÂ’re litigating against nuns, youÂ’ve probably done something wrong."-Ted Cruz)
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To: proxy_user

Soccer, the worlds most beautiful game, has to be understood to be appreciated. The nuances of play, the positioning of players and their ability to endure over 90 minutes in the heat, cold or rain are things American sport fans have yet to learn. As for scoring, is a 2 goal to 1 win in hockey overtime more exciting than a 2 to 1 win after 90 minutes on a field half again as large as a football field with no time outs, only 3 subs and minimal padding? The close minded will never love the game, but who cares since the rest of the world population is hooked on “The Beautiful Game”.


14 posted on 06/10/2014 5:03:17 PM PDT by Don Corleone ("Oil the gun..eat the cannoli. Take it to the Mattress.")
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To: nickcarraway

When I was in School, the girls played soccer and the boys played football.


15 posted on 06/10/2014 5:04:51 PM PDT by eyeamok
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To: Don Corleone
As for scoring, is a 2 goal to 1 win in hockey overtime more exciting than a 2 to 1 win after 90 minutes on a field half again as large as a football field with no time outs, only 3 subs and minimal padding?

Yes, because there's checking skaters at 25 miles per hour, and a puck shot at 120 mph. Not even close.

The Tour de France takes grerat endurance as well. I wouldn't want to have to watch it.
16 posted on 06/10/2014 5:05:24 PM PDT by Dr. Sivana ("If youÂ’re litigating against nuns, youÂ’ve probably done something wrong."-Ted Cruz)
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To: nickcarraway

Well, I’ve had some good times watching the world cup.

Once, being in a stronghold of Italian Americans in Williamsburg, Brooklyn when Italy won. Ohmigoodness, the whole neighborhood went NUTS!!!!

And another time when our friend’s wife ADORABLE French brother came for a visit. Didn’t speak a word of English and my French speaking girl friend did not join us. It was ALL GOOD.

Also watching some coverage on the Spanish language station, their graphics were so advanced at that time. They had little animated coca-cola truck running around the bottom of the screen, and of course that wonderful announcer who said “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAL!!!!!!!!!!” like nobody else ever could or will.

Fond memories!


17 posted on 06/10/2014 5:13:15 PM PDT by jocon307
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To: Fai Mao

“There is also growing interest in Baseball in China as the ethos of the game sort of fits well in a Confucian culture or at least that is my observation.”

Baseball is the perfect game, an infinite game I’ve always thought. Not sure if that fits with what you are thinking, but I figured I’d put it out there.


18 posted on 06/10/2014 5:14:55 PM PDT by jocon307
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To: jocon307
Once, being in a stronghold of Italian Americans in Williamsburg, Brooklyn when Italy won. Ohmigoodness, the whole neighborhood went NUTS!!!!

That's funny, when I was in Williamsburg during one of those (1993?), we went over to the San Januarius Festival, and Brazil won.

The worst part was that it went to a shoot-out.
Determining the champion by shootout instead of sudden death overtime is like determining the World Series winner by Home Run Derby.
19 posted on 06/10/2014 5:16:38 PM PDT by Dr. Sivana ("If youÂ’re litigating against nuns, youÂ’ve probably done something wrong."-Ted Cruz)
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To: nickcarraway

World Cup Soccer = World Cup Grass Growing..same ratings on TV.


20 posted on 06/10/2014 5:19:55 PM PDT by ExCTCitizen (I'm ExCTCitizen and I approve this reply. If it does offend Libs, I'm NOT sorry...)
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To: nickcarraway

World Cup Soccer = World Cup Grass Growing..same ratings on TV.


21 posted on 06/10/2014 5:20:15 PM PDT by ExCTCitizen (I'm ExCTCitizen and I approve this reply. If it does offend Libs, I'm NOT sorry...)
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To: Dr. Sivana

I think to Americans, aspects about soccer are considered “unnatural”, for lack of a better term. For example, people are accustomed to games of catch and lots of hand involvement; in soccer, the two-handed overhead throw-in looks like it was designed specifically to cause shoulder sprains. Even with a sport like hockey which requires a specialized motive skill and equipment, the familiarity of hitting an object with a stick is there – not to mention legal, fan-pleasing body contact. From a visual perspective, highlight photos showing two guys leaping into the air clocking heads together with arms flailing at their sides don’t compare to action shots from the sports we’re more attuned to. So (with no intent to denigrate followers of the “beautiful game”) it’s not just a lack of scoring…


22 posted on 06/10/2014 5:28:43 PM PDT by mikrofon (Stanley BUMP)
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To: nickcarraway

Watching kids play soccer can be exiting, but nowhere near as exiting as watching them play football, baseball, basketball or hockey.

I’ve only watched kids play soccer when my son played about thirty years ago, never cared to see it again after that.


23 posted on 06/10/2014 5:30:58 PM PDT by PoloSec ( Believe the Gospel: how that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again)
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To: nickcarraway

I really really TRIED to watch soccer back when my kids were little and I was coaching them. Sorry. I’d sooner watch paint dry.


24 posted on 06/10/2014 5:57:20 PM PDT by Some Fat Guy in L.A. (Still bitterly clinging to rational thought despite it's unfashionability)
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To: nickcarraway

Wasn’t a big soccer (futbol) fan until I made friends with a guy who coaches. He actually takes a lot of inspiration from Paul Westhead.


25 posted on 06/10/2014 6:22:57 PM PDT by gura (If Allah is so great, why does he need fat sexually confused fanboys to do his dirty work? -iowahawk)
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To: jocon307

“Baseball is the perfect game, an infinite game I’ve always thought.”

“Well, that’s baseball.” Not that the modern MLB incarnation doesn’t have its flaws, but yeah it’s my pick too. And the other sports have changed too.

One of the weird things about baseball is that the defense is in charge of the ball, the offense only gets to do something with it for a split second in discrete moments. I think that gives it a truly different vibe then most of the other popular sports.

Freegards


26 posted on 06/10/2014 6:24:28 PM PDT by Ransomed
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To: nickcarraway

Watching grass grow in Kansas is more interesting than soccer matches.


27 posted on 06/10/2014 6:33:45 PM PDT by RetiredTexasVet (If you lined up the best and brightest of this administration, you'd just have a string of dim bulbs)
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To: All

Saudi Arabia could probably invade Europe if they timed it right next week. Of course they already have a plan B.


28 posted on 06/10/2014 6:34:12 PM PDT by Peter ODonnell (It wasn't this cold before global warming)
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To: nickcarraway

Perfect. Soccer sucks! Sorry Anthony!


29 posted on 06/10/2014 6:48:21 PM PDT by b4its2late (A Progressive is a person who will give away everything he doesn't own.)
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To: Peter ODonnell

Soccer is boring, even to the Europeans, etc. That’s why they sing and carry on in the stands, similar to the wave. Nothing happens on the field. Just run back and forth. BOORRRINNG. At least with hockey, you get a fight once in a while, but it is almost as boring as soccer.


30 posted on 06/10/2014 6:48:52 PM PDT by rstrahan
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To: Don Corleone
I think the author needs to see soccer at the very highest levels of European professional leagues--for example the English Premier League, which is now available on NBC Sports Channel and NBC (plus all games streamed on NBC Sports Extra app for iOS and Android). Now THAT is exciting soccer played by some of the best players in the world--and one Lionel Messi seriously considered offers from Premier League teams before he resigned with FC Barcelona.
31 posted on 06/10/2014 6:54:24 PM PDT by RayChuang88 (FairTax: America's economic cure)
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To: SunkenCiv
The only sports I find interesting to watch on TV are baseball and American football.

The interval between the Super Bowl and the beginning of the baseball season is a dead zone.

Soccer is boring, but if forced to pick I would choose it over basketball.

32 posted on 06/10/2014 7:02:24 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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To: nickcarraway

We don’t care about the world cup because it’s fkn BS.

10 a##holes ganging up to score against a lone defender is anti-individualistic and socialistic.

The fans should all be deported to China to work in slave camps. They can get their BS team spirit on in their work gangs.


33 posted on 06/10/2014 7:03:17 PM PDT by Justa
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To: dforest
Bye bye football.

Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

Look up the number of NFL owners, coaches, and players who are major Democrat supporters/donors.

In American politics, money talks.

34 posted on 06/10/2014 7:08:35 PM PDT by nascarnation (Toxic Baraq Syndrome: hopefully infecting a Dem candidate near you)
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To: bicyclerepair

All sports are tidiculously stupid. If you want to get into rationality become a mathematician.


35 posted on 06/11/2014 5:27:44 AM PDT by xp38
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