Most Americans just don’t get soccer. And we make fun of it. Soccer fans seems to think this ridicule of soccer is done out of ignorance — like we’re just making fun of something foreign to us — and don’t seem to understand exactly how genuinely baffled we are by the sport. The people making the most fun of soccer are the ones like me who tried to give it a shot. We saw how excited the rest of the world gets by soccer and wanted to join in the fun by watching some World Cup games. We knew the rules (it’s not cricket; a two-year-old can understand how soccer works) and we even watched a game where we knew the stakes and should have gotten into a competition — a USA versus a foreign country game. We love the USA and hate foreign countries and love to see Americans beat other people at things no matter what it is. If there was Olympic rock/paper/scissors, we would watch that. And yet, after watching some soccer games, we became even more confused than before about how anyone in the world could be anything other than bored by this absolute nonsense.
Now, everyone is baffled by the popularity of a number of different things. Like for instance, I can’t understand why I’ve even heard of Dane Cook. I couldn’t even get through a couple minute video of one of his stand up routines. But now take one of these things you completely don’t get and pretend everyone in the world absolutely loves it except for you. Like if you went anywhere else in the world other than the U.S. and said “comedy,” everyone would assume you were talking about Dane Cook. And his comedy specials would bring the whole world to a standstill as everyone watched them. When this happens, you’ve gone from being confused by the popularity of one minor thing to thinking the whole world is playing some sort of joke on you. And that’s how it is with soccer. Not getting how someone enjoys watching soccer is one thing, but seeing the whole world go crazy over it is just incomprehensible. Especially the last World Cup with the vuvuzelas; it was just impossible to fathom how anyone could enjoy that. Half the time I’m really convinced it’s some world wide conspiracy that everyone else in the world just pretends to like soccer and then laugh at us Americans behind our backs when they’ve finally tricked us into watching that stupidity.
And I get soccer. I understand how it can be fun to play. And I understand why it’s so widespread — it’s the simplest sport and you only need a ball and some way to mark goals to play. But because it’s so simple, I don’t get why anyone still bothers with it. It’s like Pong was this big phenomenon when it was the first ever video game people had seen, but no one still plays that today. But soccer still seems like this relic from the ancient past where it makes no sense anyone would pay attention to it when we have so many better modern sports to follow. Take soccer’s clock that counts up. I could see that happening over a hundred years ago when no one had seen an organized sport before, but by now shouldn’t someone have said, “Hey, see those others sports with clocks that tick down? That’s much more exciting!” And then there is the lack of goals. I mean why would I watch soccer when I can do so many other things in my day and not see a goal scored for ninety minutes? Have they even tried tweaking the game to make more things happen? Like making the goal bigger or the ball smaller? Unless you like seeing people act like delicate princesses and fall over at the slightest touch, there’s just nothing going on in most of the game.
And then there is the ties. In most soccer games, if there’s a tie at the end, they don’t even try to do anything about it. This is a competition, people! It’s supposed to have a winner and a loser! If you’re okay with 0-0, you didn’t have a competition, you just had ninety minutes of exercise. I know another 45 minutes would just be torture and sudden death would mean nothing when goals are already so rare, but at least act like a tie is unacceptable. Have some self-respect and try to do something about the everyone is a loser outcome!
Really, the only way I can understand soccer — other than it being a practical joke on Americans — is that the other countries have so little going on they can get emotionally invested enough in soccer that the sense competition finally overwhelms the mind-numbing boredom. Like if you projected all your self-worth onto a snail, I guess I could see you really cheering loudly at a mile-long snail race. So maybe Americans just don’t have the time or inclination to put that much emotion into soccer with all the other thing we have to do like make businesses, innovate, write blog posts, and be the best at everything worth being the best at.
So, as I was saying, Americans being baffled by soccer isn’t the usual Americans being ignorant of foreign things, but us trying to understand a foreign thing and being even more confused by it. I guess we just have to chock it up to American exceptionalism that we’re the one country that recognizes soccer as pointless, boring idiocy. So have some sympathy and put up with our jokes about soccer; the ones making the most jokes are the people who tried to understand.
BTW, since the Americans are facing Belgium today, I thought I’d link this old three-part In My World about Belgium. Boy, those In My Worlds were pretty stupid. But fun. Their popularity is much more understandable than soccer’s.