I like to read, primarily the classics – golf magazines, newspapers, Sports Illustrated, internet sites, bathroom walls, and messages written on the backs of dirty semi-trucks.
Lately, all over the news (which happens every 2 or 3 years) is the fact that soccer is right on the cusp of capturing America’s attention as one of the major sports. Soccer people everywhere call into sports radio shows to declare that “Soccer is popular” and the rest of the major sports should get out the way.
Soon, the NFL and MLB, along with college football and basketball, and even golf will have to take a backseat to the world’s most popular game- the original football, aka soccer.
In the 70’s Pele was going to make every child in the United States want to grow up and play soccer. In the 80’s indoor soccer was going to be the rage. We got to the 90’s and soccer people everywhere thought that hosting a World Cup would grab our attention and make soccer the new national pastime.
We even had a female soccer player score a goal and rip off her jersey to show us her sports bra. This was the event that would make all of our best female teenage athletes want to grow up and dominate the soccer world.
Now it is 2007 and David Beckham and his wife, Posh Spice, are going to be the catalyst for soccer’s entry into the public consciousness.
Along with soccer guy, newspapers are too blamed for starting this bandwagon that the rest of us aren’t jumping on. How long will it take for the 60 year old sports editors of major newspapers to figure out that NHL hockey isn’t a major sport, boxing is dead, and professional soccer doesn’t excite the average American who watches Sports Center.
Soccer guy will argue two points: one soccer is the world’s game, which is correct, it’s just not our game. Secondly, they say soccer is popular because 198 trillion six-year olds play it on Saturday morning.
Both of these facts are true, but there is more to it than that. In America we have what I like to call choices. There are a thousand and one things to do after work or on our weekends, fortunately most don’t involve kicking a ball into a net. As a group, Americans, like the outdoors, traditions, games that we can see the object being hit (you can’t even see a hockey puck on TV) and violence. Hence, the NFL is the most popular sport.
In small countries all around the world, people can’t waste their money on green fees for a round of golf, tickets to the movies, or a trip to Hardee’s for a Monster Burger. I am not saying this is right or fair, but we are busy people with lots of choices and we choose not to make soccer one of them. We can’t add professional soccer to our busy schedules because making room for it would mean giving something else up.
I think we like football so much, not because everyone who watches played the game, but because it looks good on TV and our favorite team only plays once a week. Who has the time to watch a professional soccer game on a Tuesday night?
The soccer pushers are correct about our six-year olds playing soccer. The kids love it, right up to the point that they can play a sport that allows them to use their hands.
Don’t get me wrong, professional soccer takes a great deal of skill, but for a small child nothing more is required than an hour on Saturday morning, a pair of tennis shoes, and a team t-shirt with Dairy Queen, Chicos Bail Bonds, or Tommy’s A-1 Mortuary on it.
More proof that soccer is the third cousin to football. When your six-year old is playing, it is usually on a football field. Has anyone ever gone to a football game held on the soccer field? I didn’t think so.
Just because a child plays it, doesn’t necessarily mean they will continue to love it when they get to be adults. Hence, there are not professional tag leagues, or hopscotch leagues, hide-and-seek leagues, or even Candyland tournaments in Las Vegas.
Our best athletes choose team sports that are backed by a traditionally strong professional league. You can go to any high school and out of the best 10 athletes, 8 play football, basketball, and baseball. If my math is correct, that leaves possibly one for golf and one for soccer.
It is not that I am anti-soccer, it serves a role in America. It certainly makes a six-year old tired and that makes them more likely to go to bed sooner, so we have that going for us.
If soccer was invited to the sports Thanksgiving dinner, it would have a seat- at the card table in the living room. Also, if you need more pumpkin pie soccer guy, you are going to have to get it yourself- the rest of us will be watching football.