So I figure I’m pretty much the only one in my zip code following the international soccer matches.
Yes, I am a bonafide soccerphile—here I am, out loud and proud.
Soccer, or football, as the rest of the world calls it (it is played with the foot, after all) is only sort of catching on here in the US, with most of those fans mainly cheering Team USA. With the US now out of the competition, how many of those will stick around to see how it all ends?
I wondered why there weren’t as many fans here in this country, when literally everywhere else in the world, footballers are akin to gods.
This is what I came up with:
1. Goals are few and far between. A final score of 3-0 would be considered a bloodbath in soccer terms, but in any American sport, such as football, the score can get into the teens and twenties or more, and basketball can get into the hundreds of points.
Delayed gratification, people. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what makes each and every goal so precious, so scream-worthy.
2. Which brings me to my second point. On the Spanish-language channels which faithfully broadcast each match every four years, the announcers seem to become agitated at every scoring opportunity and absolutely lose it when the ball crushes the back of the net. In football or basketball, points occur so often that you’re happy for your team, but after a while, it’s kinda meh.
Non-soccer fans just can’t seem to understand what the fuss is about, when most of the time, Nothing Seems To Be Happening. It’s almost inappropriate to show such emotion. Pfffft.
3. Soccer seems to only be the sport of brown people. While it’s true that there are a large number of developing countries in the world, that too that are obsessed with soccer, advertising execs have taken it upon themselves to portray soccer as the poor man’s recreational sport. All you need is a ball, right? Any parking lot, empty field, street or sidewalk, all will suffice for a decent soccer pitch, lit by a dingy lamppost, the neon sign of a sleazy motel, or someone holding up a match.
While this may be true of average people, big-time athletes of any sport get paid beaucoup bucks—and that includes soccer players, who could afford acres of dirt lots to play on (if they weren’t so busy drinking cognac and chasing supermodels. But I digress). Being able to play a pickup game of soccer anywhere is what makes it so accessible, raw, and real.
4. It’s been said that soccer players can be dramatic. This is an understatement. They can be full-on drama queens, and boy do we love it! It adds some extra spice to the match and adds to the already emotionally charged scene unfolding before us: intentional fouls, phony injuries and painful reactions, refs who are biased as heck, busy not-seeing gross violations of the rules. Boring it ain’t.
5. Why cheer on other nations that are not your own, huh? What’s up with that?!
I’ll tell you why.
The World Cup is a time for all nations to come together and celebrate as one, blah, blah. Actually, it’s a period of intense nationalism, the real way political battles should be fought in lieu of wars—am I right?
So what if your nation isn’t among the top teams? Pick one, any one, to follow, and cheer for them. There are stats and career highlights and amazing wins and losses to pore over, and if you truly enjoy good soccer, it won’t really matter who the teams are. The game is still the same.
So, why not give it a whirl, there’s still another week till the final. Otherwise, you will have to wait another four years to decide if you like it. Hopefully that’s not a good thing.
Image credit: Original image