Blog: Why do we (Americans) hate soccer?

By: Josh Earl Email
By: Josh Earl Email

As you can imagine we get into some pretty interesting sports debates around our newsroom. We have quite a few sports fans that work in our building and they aren’t just limited to the sports office.

Don Ward is die hard soccer fan…Brian Bledsoe loves basketball (college and NBA)…. I (Josh Earl) am an NFL nut.....our director Roberto Reyes is passionate about all sports including soccer, and of course Jesse Kurtz loves pairs figure skating and men’s gymnastics…just kidding, he’s a college football nut as well.

The debates range from the worthiness of the BCS to “how overrated is Derek Jeter”. However from time to time, the subject of soccer comes up. Now as I mentioned Don Ward and Roberto Reyes both love soccer. It should be pointed out that Don spends a lot time in England and Roberto is from Honduras, both of which are soccer hot beds. The rest of us don’t really give soccer much respect as a professional sport.

The rest of the world loves soccer, but here in America we still don’t seem to want to give it the time of day, and I think I know why.

We have been called a “Fast Food Nation”, a culture that wants everything and wants it now, no waiting. That mentally also translates to our sports, we want action and we want it now! Soccer doesn’t provide that action, at least not enough of it to satisfy our attention spans. This isn’t limited to soccer. Baseball used to be America’s past time, but I think we can all agree that it no longer holds that title. One reason I believe baseball has fallen behind the NFL is because the games are so slow. Unless you are a baseball purist you probably don’t want to see a 1-0 ten inning pitchers duel. Unless there is a perfect game on the line or a least a no-hitter, we don’t have the patience to sit through a game like that, at least not on television.

We want scoring, and lots of it. Our nation loves football, but nobody wants to see a 3-0 game, we want 31-30. In the NBA the Spurs created a dynasty over the years winning championships by playing defense. They won games 79-75 on a regular basis, great for Spurs fans, but horrible for television ratings. Hockey suffers from the same problem as soccer; it’s a complicated game that features of lot of action in the middle of the ice, but not much scoring. Hockey also doesn’t translate well to television, it’s a game that needs to be watched in person.

The only exception that I can see in the American sports culture is golf. It’s a very slow, very methodical sport but still does pretty well in the ratings, because it does translate well to television. However, if Tiger Woods isn’t in contention it’s a completely different story.

Soccer will never change its rules, 1-0 and 2-0 games will continue to be the norm and for that it will never take off in America. If there is ever an American soccer player who actually plays here in the United States and changes the way the game is viewed (like Tiger did for golf) then maybe we will all sit up and take notice, if only for a little while. If David Beckham, one of the world’s biggest sports stars couldn’t get us to pay attention, then I predict no one ever will.

We would love to hear your feedback whether you love soccer or loathe it. Please feel free to comment below.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Jason Location: Boston on Jun 9, 2009 at 01:48 PM
    I don't think soccer will ever displace the big 3, but I think it's popularity is on the rise. It is now very easy to get access to European soccer in the US through Fox Soccer Channel, ESPN360 and Setanta. I think these resources will really come into play during & after the 2010 world cup. A good showing by the US in 2010 will temporarily increase interest, and these channels will be there to cater to that interest after the World Cup is over. Combine that with MLS improving slowly over the years, and things don't look so bleak. As for the low score issue, here is how I see it: 1 - Go watch your local MLS team live and sit with the supporter group. I dare you to not feel the energy when your team scores. 2- A well executed play that almost results in a goal is very exciting. Once you know what to look for, you will feel excitement every time you see a long ball into space or a well timed run even if the ball doesn't end up in the net. 3. No timeouts or commercial breaks!
  • by Diane Location: USA on Jun 9, 2009 at 01:20 PM
    Americans do like soccer, but most of the soccer that's been available on TV here in the past has either been international or the world's top clubs. Its hard to become a fan of a fledgling league like the MLS after watching the game played at that level. I understand the impact of slow growth and miniature payrolls and do support the league, but that doesn't mean I enjoy watching it on TV when I can watch La Liga. Still, there's nothing like watching the game live, so I think local clubs will become more popular as the level of play improves. BTW, there really is no faster moving game, nothing stops for 45 minutes x 2. No time-outs, station breaks, refereeing decision reviews, no milling around FOREVER like in American football. Fast paced action on every inch of the pitch for 90 min.'s.
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