Skip to comments.How Soccer is Ruining America: A Jeremiad
Posted on 03/11/2009 8:56:05 AM PDT by AreaMan
How Soccer is Ruining America: A Jeremiad
Soccer is running America into the ground, and there is very little anyone can do about it. Social critics have long observed that we live in a therapeutic society that treats young people as if they can do no wrong. Every kid is a winner, and nobody is ever left behind, no matter how many times they watch the ball going the other way. Whether the dumbing down of America or soccer came first is hard to say, but soccer is clearly an important means by which American energy, drive, and competitiveness is being undermined to the point of no return.
What other game, to put it bluntly, is so boring to watch? (Bowling and golf come to mind, but the sound of crashing pins and the sight of the well-attired strolling on perfectly kept greens are at least inherently pleasurable activities.) The linear, two-dimensional action of soccer is like the rocking of a boat but without any storm and while the boat has not even left the dock. Think of two posses pursuing their prey in opposite directions without any bullets in their guns. Soccer is the fluoridation of the American sporting scene.
For those who think I jest, let me put forth four points, which is more points than most fans will see in a week of gamesand more points than most soccer players have scored since their pee-wee days.
1) Any sport that limits you to using your feet, with the occasional bang of the head, has something very wrong with it. Indeed, soccer is a liberals dream of tragedy: It creates an egalitarian playing field by rigorously enforcing a uniform disability. Anthropologists commonly define man according to his use of hands. We have the thumb, an opposable digit that God gave us to distinguish us from animals that walk on all fours. The thumb lets us do things like throw baseballs and fold our hands in prayer. We can even talk with our hands. Have you ever seen a deaf person trying to talk with their feet? When you are really angry and acting like an animal, you kick out with your feet. Only fools punch a wall with their hands. The Iraqi who threw his shoes at President Bush was following his primordial instincts. Showing someone your feet, or sticking your shoes in someones face, is the ultimate sign of disrespect. Do kids ever say, Trick or Treat, smell my hands? Did Jesus wash his disciples hands at the Last Supper? No, hands are divine (they are one of the body parts most frequently attributed to God), while feet are in need of redemption. In all the portraits of Gods wrath, never once is he pictured as wanting to step on us or kick us; he does not stoop that low.
2) Sporting should be about breaking kids down before you start building them up. Take baseball, for example. When I was a kid, baseball was the most popular sport precisely because it was so demanding. Even its language was intimidating, with bases, bats, strikes, and outs. Striding up to the plate gave each of us a chance to act like we were starring in a Western movie, and tapping the bat to the plate gave us our first experience with inventing self-indulgent personal rituals. The boy chosen to be the pitcher was inevitably the first kid on the team to reach puberty, and he threw a hard ball right at you.
Thus, you had to face the fear of disfigurement as well as the statistical probability of striking out. The spectacle of your failure was so public that it was like having all of your friends invited to your home to watch your dad forcing you to eat your vegetables. We also spent a lot of time in the outfield chanting, Hey batter batter! as if we were Buddhist monks on steroids. Our chanting was compensatory behavior, a way of making the time go by, which is surely why at soccer games today it is the parents who do all of the yelling.
3) Everyone knows that soccer is a foreign invasion, but few people know exactly what is wrong with that. More than having to do with its origin, soccer is a European sport because it is all about death and despair. Americans would never invent a sport where the better you get the less you score. Even the way most games end, in sudden death, suggests something of an old-fashioned duel. How could anyone enjoy a game where so much energy results in so little advantage, and which typically ends with a penalty kick out, as if it is the audience that needs to be put out of its misery. Shootouts are such an anticlimax to the game and are so unpredictable that the teams might as well flip a coin to see who winsindeed, they might as well flip the coin before the game, and not play at all.
4) And then there is the question of gender. I know my daughter will kick me when she reads this, but soccer is a game for girls. Girls are too smart to waste an entire day playing baseball, and they do not have the bloodlust for football. Soccer penalizes shoving and burns countless calories, and the margins of victory are almost always too narrow to afford any gloating. As a display of nearly death-defying stamina, soccer mimics the paradigmatic feminine experience of childbirth more than the masculine business of destroying your opponent with insurmountable power.
Let me conclude on a note of despair appropriate to my topic. There is no way to run away from soccer, if only because it is a sport all about running. It is as relentless as it is easy, and it is as tiring to play as it is tedious to watch. The real tragedy is that soccer is a foreign invasion, but it is not a plot to overthrow America. For those inclined toward paranoia, it would be easy to blame soccers success on the political left, which, after all, worked for years to bring European decadence and despair to America. The left tried to make existentialism, Marxism, post-structuralism, and deconstructionism fashionable in order to weaken the clarity, pragmatism, and drive of American culture. What the left could not accomplish through these intellectual fads, one might suspect, they are trying to accomplish through sport.
Yet this suspicion would be mistaken. Soccer is of foreign origin, that is certainly true, but its promotion and implementation are thoroughly domestic. Soccer is a self-inflicted wound. Americans have nobody to blame but themselves. Conservative suburban families, the backbone of America, have turned to soccer in droves. Baseball is too intimidating, football too brutal, and basketball takes too much time to develop the required skills. American parents in the past several decades are overworked and exhausted, but their children are overweight and neglected. Soccer is the perfect antidote to television and video games. It forces kids to run and run, and everyone can play their role, no matter how minor or irrelevant to the game. Soccer and relevision are the peanut butter and jelly of parenting.
I should know. I am an overworked teacher, with books to read and books to write, and before I put in a video for the kids to watch while I work in the evenings, they need to have spent some of their energy. Otherwise, they want to play with me! Last year all three of my kids were on three different soccer teams at the same time. My daughter is on a traveling team, and she is quite good. I had to sign a form that said, among other things, I would not do anything embarrassing to her or the team during the game. I told the coach I could not sign it. She was perplexed and worried. Why not, she asked? Are you one of those parents who yells at their kids? Not at all, I replied, I read books on the sidelines during the game, and this embarrasses my daughter to no end. That is my one way of protesting the rise of this pitiful sport. Nonetheless, I must say that my kids and I come home from a soccer game a very happy family.
Stephen H. Webb is a professor of religion and philosophy at Wabash College. His recent books include American Providence and Taking Religion to School.
He pretty much covers it, the left pushed soccer on America and they always hated high school football.
With the exception of Leave it to Beaver almost every TV and movie image of high school football players has been negative for the last 40 years, while soccer was seen as just a healthful sport.
Interesting that he speaks of baseball and not the abomination of T-Ball. As for the broader concept of “ruining” sport, the Left (his term) has done a fine job of it even in the absence of soccer. He’s blaming the symptom he identifies for the disease.
Any sport that keeps kids from being couch potatoes is fine by me. But when they start having “Monday Night Soccer” on ABC / ESPN, I might watch it then.
Oh, my....where to begin...
In short...soccer is just another sport, among many. Love by many, hated by many just like any other sport.
If you hate it - there’s no convincing...if you have a slight interest in sports in general and are willing to spend some time watching somewhere to 5 to 10 good games...you will pick up the nuances and intricacies of the game.
If you want to be intitiated in the sport, I recommend not wasting anytime now, but wait until next year’s World Cup in South Africa. The best will be on display, and you can cheer for the good ole’ USA.
If you still hate hate it after that, then that’s just it...no need to try and convince you otherwise. I’ve tried and tried to enjoy baseball, but just can’t get there...too boring. Football - I like, but can only stand watching it on TV. At a real game, it’s 10 minutes of actual play time stretched out into 3 1/2 hours. Basketball, my favorite sport...Hockey - only the playoffs interest me. Cricket.....
In the rest of the world, soccer is only about winning and losing. If my team loses (and I get up at 4 a.m. to watch a crappy internet stream to watch them), the rest of my day is ruined. It’s the approach to *anything* by the left that is wrong, not just sports.
Simple to fix.
Highlight shows covering soccer are OK. You actually get to see scoring. It’s the games themselves that are a challenge to watch. It’s incredible that a sport has been designed to make sure little to nothing ever happens.
Soccer rose with the feminization of America...everyone plays....boys and girls and little Ned doesn’t get hurt
and then the third world came...
I don’t think enough Americans watch soccer for it to be doing anything to us. It’s popular as a kids sport because it’s cheap, you can make a soccer field with any 8 objects that stand at least 18” tall (4 for the corners of the field, 4 more for the boundaries of the goals) and the ball. No pads needed for the players, no expensive sticks or helmets, no particularly difficult weather needs, and at 11 players a side you get to use a lot of kids. 1 $20 ball and 4 chairs stolen from the classroom and you’ve got PE for the whole class.
But while soccer has been the most popular sport for kids to play for a long time none of them seem to watch the game when they grow up. Ratings for MLS are still in the toilet, attendance at MLS games still makes the WNBA point and laugh. All that youthful soccer seems to be quickly discarded.
Yeah right - the lefties introduced soccer to america.
Trust me - there is no soccer in the USA - just some guys from high school trying to touch the ball during international tournaments. Iran has a better team.
I went to a prep school in the Cleveland area. In the fall, gym class was either football or soccer. Too skinny for football, I chose the insane sport of soccer!. First day I watched everyone running around like maniacs, and decided that I wanted to be a goalie. So,,, I just stood around the goal, and once every 5 to 10 minutes, someone would try to score. Easy gig, and I was good at it. But watch a game from the sidelines? As boring as watchin’ the grass grow!
Soccer fans wouldn’t want to hear what I call soccer.
What is it about soccer that the author is trying to equivalate? Is it the no contact? No hands? No stoppage? Floating offsides line? Clock counting up? Penalty cards?
Soccer isn’t even a sport. There’s no there “there”!
Soccer is good fun to play.
And that’s all I’ll say about that. Why should anything else matter?
This person knows nothing about soccer. Nothing at all. So what type of idiot publishes a column about something they know nothing about? I guess all journalists do that on a daily basis which is why we are where we are...
I dislike it because it is taking all the best baseball players away. Kids in SoCal are getting bored with baseball, they don't develop the appreciation for it, and it is too slow for their video game lives. That is troubling for me, but if they switch to lacrosse, and stay away from soccer, at least the nation will survive. It will help if they also play football in the fall.
Is he being sarcastic or serious?
In any case.. there a big problem with the development system of the soccer players in US and Canada. Everyone a “winner” is a stupid idea which does not exist in European or Latin American youth systems. Soccer players have to start playing on a professional level very young, College development system just stifles this. Part of it comes from parents not taking the game seriously.. part of it is the liberal crap, there is also the attempt to use the traditional American sport system(college) for soccer, which just does not work at highest level.
Not going to go into boring not boring.. but alteast there are no stoppages and advertisement break every 2 mins. Would have loved for someone try that with soccer in europe, would have been an epic riot.
As my old coach said, football(soccer) is like life is unfair and success or failure rests on a split second decision and luck, while to stay in it you got be able to just keep at it no matter what (the whole fitness aspect of having to run for 90 mins)
This certainly seems true, given the involvement of Big Soccer--the multinational corporations that manufacture soccer balls, uniforms, and equipment along with their flunkies and political allies. However, a few years ago, Keep Our Own Kids Safe, a grassroots movement determined to stand up to Big Soccer and save American children from this dangerous sport, was organized by Rush Limbaugh.
By the way, note the acronym.
Real Football - what some here call 'Soccer' but no-one else in the world does - is about speed, power and coordination.
Football at the professional level is amazing and exhilarating to watch. You guys just need to watch some, not regard the Olympic games as the apogee of the sport.
I agree. No props to the lawn fairies from me
I love football, but I've heard it described as the worst parts of American culture: moments of extreme violence separated by long meetings. :-)
If you look at the major sports, most of them have one team clearly trying to score while the other team is keeping them from scoring. Baseball - only the offense can score. Football - except for a turnover or safety, only the offense can score. Basketball - switches back and forth between offense and defense especially with the shot clock where you don't run into soccer's problem. Hockey - fast action and relatively common turnovers, plus you can have fights. Soccer (especially at the upper levels) - it looks like two teams trying their best to keep the other team from scoring, with their own scoring only coming as an afterthought.
The thing which would perk up soccer for me is eliminating or at least greatly reducing the offside rule. A long kick to a teammate streaking to the goal to bring the score to 10-8 would be much more interesting than yet another 1-0 match.
Although I have to say: Football could use cheerleaders.
“Yeah right - the lefties introduced soccer to america.”
Yes they did, in the late sixties the left started fighting to replace American sports with foreign sports that were less warrior like and male dominant like the hated sport of football.
“boys and girls and little Ned doesnt get hurt...”
You’re kidding. Soccer is full of broken bones, bruises, hard hits, knee injuries and on and on. Last month, a kid on my son’s team played the last game of a tournament after tearing a big toe toenail completely off because they needed him for a full lineup. The goalie on his JV team last year made one save that broke the opponent’s shin guard and then a few plays later the goalie suffered a concussion AND a broken jaw. He held onto the ball and made the save. His high school team is full of the walking wounded by the end of the season.
Sure, the younger kids aren’t allowed to play that rough, but I have no problem with that.
BTW, in a game at higher levels, midfielders run an average of 6-7 miles, including lots of sprinting.
american soccer has no ties.
european soccer has tie games.
Soccer is a cheep game to play. A field, a ball, some benches and presto you have somethign to keep the peoples busy. (bread and circuses)
Funny how tastes differ. I've always considered basketball a huge practical joke the whole world plays on me. There's really now way a rational person would consider such a ridiculous activity entertaining. It's like they sat down and made a list:
-A sport with constant time outs? check
-A sport best suited for young girls because anything physical is illegal? check
-A sport with way too much scoring, making the each score nearly meaningless? check
-A ridiculous obsession with style instead of substance, like a 7 foot man jumping a foot off the ground to dunk is some sort of athletic wonder? check.
-A sport that's impossible to really officiate, because not only do you have to decide if the poor dear was fouled, you have to decide which poor dear fouled the other.
-A sport that on the professional level is so infested with gang culture that a trip to a live game is an assault on your senses, as rap music blares non stop? check
-A sport where the last two minutes can literally take a half our and include 8 commercial time outs? check
-And last but certainly not least, a sport with the most exciting feature of all human existence...the free throw? check
Soccer can move rather slowly, but it's a threesome with Shania Twain and Brooke Burke compared to basketball.
Might not take them away for long. Remember Gretzky played a lot of lacrosse as a kid.
Do you have a non-work safe version? Please?
it’s still mommy game for little kids
baseball now has this too.....Cal Ripken baseball instead of Dixie Youth.
you can have soccer....
btw....why am I not surprised you like soccer....I bet you like bicycle shorts too?
tell the truth GD.
yeah, this really sucks.
Any sport that gets the kids moving is good.
I think everyone overlooked one big selling point of soccer — it’s pretty cheap to outfit a team.
As far as everyone being a winner ... um, no. Even in the “scoreless” beginner games, everyone keeps score.
I agree that lacrosse is a better game but this guy still doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
The coach who really laments the rise of soccer and lacrosse is the track coach. You’ve got to be able to run to play both, and track teams have lost many good runners.
I think the answer to that is, yes.
...while to stay in it you got be able to just keep at it no matter what (the whole fitness aspect of having to run for 90 mins)
I'd rather watch soccer players be chased by "hockey-mask" wearing maniacs with chainsaws for 90 minutes. Now that would demonstrate some fitness.
I’m in the SF Bay Area, and lacrosse is indeed becoming very popular.
Here’s what I think so far about sports for boys (I have 3, age 12, 10, 6, none of them particularly athletic).
First, I don’t watch them practice, and only rarely watch them play. I consider it their business, not mine. (I’m no helicopter parent, that’s for sure.)
Basketball: too hard. Have to be super athletic.
Soccer: too boring. Season is too long (6 months).
Baseball: the best team sport. Good for nerds.
Golf and tennis: the best overall. Useful for life.
Horseback riding: very nice skill to have.
Ice skating: another good skill to have.
Track/cross country: I like it. Fitness, comradarie.
Karate: great for boys, but not places w/ contracts.
I like Little League; CYO basketball is too tough. I’ll never encourage my boys to do soccer unless they beg me.
Roight! I’ll admit, in the past, I’ve referred to soccer as football for, ah, cigarettes.
I loath soccer...
“btw....why am I not surprised you like soccer....I bet you like bicycle shorts too?
tell the truth GD.”
The only soccer I REALLY like is when my son is playing because he enjoys it. He also played baseball and basketball but it became evident he wasn’t cut out for either, although he was OK in baseball. He also runs cross country and track. And as the CC team says, “Our sport is your sport’s punishment.”
All I know is that my son is involved in a healthy activity he enjoys. He’s not hanging out and getting in trouble. And the kids on the track and soccer teams are among the best. I hope that’s all right with you.
I don’t ride a bicycle so I have no opinion on bicycle shorts. All the pros wear them, so there must be a reason.
And if you don't have objects, use the 8 worst kids. Just make them stand still.........
“’American Football’ is a bit-like Rugby, except that the players wear body armor. It’s the gayest game ever, beating even that lane-swimming event called Basketball.”
I killed a fellow player (a friend) in high school football, he collapsed on the field and died either immediately or shortly after.
Four years earlier during a scrimmage in which I was on the offense another friend of mine on the defensive side suffered an injury that he died of within a day or two.
I don’t know what the death rate is in soccer but without the pads football would be unplayable, as we learned generations ago.
Soccer: The game played by those who dont want to get hit (football), and those that CANT HIT the curveball!
There are reasons for the way the rules are, actually the current offside rule is weaker then what is used to be in the beginning of the 20th century I think. Goals in soccer matter in a huge way, that’s what many people love about the game. With 10-8 game.. you could go to a fridge and miss a couple and not care, thats just not soccer.
Soccer is all about balance of offense and defense. It also very defendant on the league. What you describe is common in leagues that tend to favor possession based game, EPL is very different in that sense for example. Lots of it is also dependent on the climate of the country. You really can not play EPL style in Mexican league, nobody has the stamine to run like that with the temperature that you see there. Same issue in MLS, MLS plays in summer.. some games are just brutal in terms of the heat and humidity. Most European leagues play in winter when it is much easier to be fast for the whole 90
Many years ago when Jim Brown was at Syracuse, my college (Union) played Syracuse in lacrosse and soccer. Jim Brown was such an all-around athlete that he played the 1st-half of the lacrosse match, giving Syracuse an unsurmountable lead, and then suited up for track and won the 220.