With the world cup now over (Congrats to Germany) I can officially say I won’t miss all the “Why American’s don’t like soccer” talk. This time around we got see ridiculous political <insert favorite derogatory term here> go off the rails, we heard sports radio and tv spout a multitude of reasons but I have yet to see any of these “folks” actually ask some everyday, ordinary Americans why they don’t find soccer more entertaining. Now before you hear from a person who actually was born and raised in the US, some quick background notes.
I am not your typical American but who is? Remember we are a country built strong by our diversity and people from all around the world have come to live in this country. (remember that part) Are we perfect? Far from it but that’s who we are and I am one of them. I grew up playing and/or watching baseball, football, soccer, basketball, cycling, hockey, tennis, golf, and bowling. Since I was young my parents made sure I tried alot of different sports to find the one I liked. That’s why my favorite sport to actually compete in is Triathlons and to watch is currently Cyclo-Cross. For 6 years I hosted a podcast that covered UCI cycling, WRC (rally racing) and FIA Formula 1 racing. I had someone from the UK join me during the show and my audience during the show’s run was not just in the US but abroad. To end, and to provide further evidence of my global awareness, without a doubt the best pre-game “ritual” in the world has to be the All Blacks Haka; period.
So now that you know I’m not someone who is unaware of sports beyond my boarders, lets present some of the reasons as to why I do not follow soccer.
This may sound strange but the US has the same problem with football as the world has with soccer. Every year a bazillion people, from all corners of the world, tune in to watch the SuperBowl. Yet the US cannot get the rest of the world to buy into American football. They have international teams, and leagues and games played about but most European’s just don’t like the sport. At the same time American’s just don’t seem all that interested in soccer except during the world cup. I guess the same can be said about the Olympics as well. It’s not like downhill skiing, bobsledding or track and field are huge draws in the US outside of Olympic time. Sound familiar doesn’t it?
Here is another point, I’ve been to Portugal twice and while not statistically significant, I did notice the following. There are no baseball diamonds, hardly any basketball courts, no deck hockey rinks, very few skateboard parks, etc, etc. Conversely when you travel the US (I’ve been to every state on the east coast and a few on the west) almost every park has many choices. There is always some basketball courts, baseball diamonds, some have skate parks, others have tennis courts, bocce fields, or volleyball courts. Simply put there is alot of choice. I honestly believe that choice is part of that reason the US doesn’t go crazy for soccer. American kids have so many sports to pick from other then soccer that most grow up playing other things.
As an F1 fan (although this year is just a joke) I am well aware that the FIA is far from being called “pure as the fresh driven snow”. But FIFA seems to be corrupt from head to toe. Every time I read a story about corruption in sports, FIFA’s name is always somewhere near by. So if you want me to watch, you have to clean it up. I don’t expect perfection but what you have running the sport now cannot be taken seriously.
I’m sorry but the shoot out system should be erased from all sports. (Hear that NHL?) To be fair, in the playoffs the NHL play until someone scores. Some games have actually gone into triple over time. That means two games were played back to back. So what would I replace it with? Extra time, say 15 minutes. If no one scores during that time both teams lose a player. Repeat until someone scores. This will probably force the coach’s to use more players from the bench. Trust me after an extra 30mins of play, that new guy will have fresh legs and might just score the game winning goal. Now that’s excitement.
But the absolute worst part of the sport, which you must eliminate if you really want me to get serious, is all the faking, flopping, diving, etc. For me, it ruins the game. I remember a while back watching how Italy took a dive in the box against the Aussie team which gave them a penalty kick thus giving them the game. I thought our NBA players were actors playing to the ref’s to get the call but soccer players take it to an entirely new level of faking. It’s so bad there are YouTube channels dedicated to all the flopping these guys do.
As an example of how not to fake it, and in this case, how to play through a real injury let me introduce Gregory Campbell. ( http://ftw.usatoday.com/2013/06/bruins-player-keeps-playing-hockey-on-a-broken-leg) I can hear you now, “Oh but he’s the extreme case, no one else plays with anything broken” and you would be wrong. Enter Matt Fraser who scored a game winning goal while playing with a broken foot. (http://nesn.com/2014/05/bruins-matt-fraser-played-canadiens-series-with-broken-foot/) To be blunt, that’s only two players from one team in one sport. Football players, American football, routinely take the field with something wrong. I’m sure Rugby players would fit into that category as well not to mention a certain Alberto Contador and his fractured tibia.
For me flopping can be easily stopped. Add more Ref’s and put in some form of instant replay review. Here is how it would work. To start, with extra eyes watching the game some of the glaringly obvious calls would be made right away. If not while the “downed” man is on the ground flopping around, a review person in the booth could quickly see a few replays. If the guy is completely faking it, Red card and a fine. If there was contact but the guy is overacting, Yellow card. If the injury is legit, like a pulled muscle, or the contact was on the bad side, the ref can be told via his ear piece to allow time. But to see players “taking a dive” after the ball is taken from them, on the ground acting like they are about to bleed out only to bounce back up into the play when they realize they won’t get the call, is pathetic at best. By the way, Rugby has instant reply to make sure of the calls so soccer can have them too.
So there you have it, just another worthless American view. To end, I was going to bring up the whole college sports and scholarships connections but I couldn’t find enough evidence to support my theory. If you or you know someone who has done the research please let me know but my little voice says, US colleges are not exactly handing out tons of soccer scholarships, but I could be wrong.