Calm down. See, you think you already know where this is going. You’re already riled up because someone is about to say something that’s not glowing about the global game of fútbol. Before I begin, let me preface by saying that I’ve played soccer my entire life. It just may be my favorite sport. But every four years, the World Cup brings a complex blend of bitterness, along with the obvious joy. In the United States, every four years brings the unfulfilled promise that soccer will soon rule the land. Soon, its biggest supporters say, it will eclipse basketball and baseball. Even American football too. Of course, it never does. I mean, how popular is it going to get when just surviving the group stage feels like we’ve won the World Cup final? Now, that’s not my issue with soccer. Actually, I don’t have any issues with soccer. I think the penalty shootout compromises how great the game can be, and I’m frustrated by the diving that takes place throughout the game. But those are minor points. What really gets me is the fans.
I understand the frustration that soccer fans feel in the United States. Especially when things like this are actually published. Purely asinine pseudo-jingoistic journalism at its finest. That’s what that is. All of the so-called journalists in the country who celebrated the US’ elimination from the tournament don’t deserve an audience. That is just Skip Bayless provocation. Sure, the United States went 1-2-1 in the World Cup. We get it: that’s not good enough for you, for the United States. And thus, doesn’t deserve all the attention that it brought. Pieces like that should rile up soccer supporters.
What is frustrating about soccer, especially in, but not limited to the United States, is the level of pretension that has developed in the past decade or so. True soccer supporters in the country are few and far between. Because of that, they’ve developed some misplaced inferiority-complex, while still proclaiming to be the most superior sport of all. It’s nonsense really. And I don’t mean the part about being the best sport. I mean the attitude developed in soccer fans. Anyone who questions the sport or has an idea for the sport suddenly doesn’t understand the sport, or never played the sport, or doesn’t respect the sport. The Great global game that is fútbol is above criticism. It’s above question. That is what really gets me.
Because soccer is such a global game, any criticism, especially from an American viewpoint, is just some attempt to the Americanize the sport. Yeah, right. It’s all just disrespect of the game and a criticism of the rest of the world. Or something. No, that’s not it. I’m a fervent soccer fan, but watching the World Cup (or more generally, soccer) in the US just isn’t how it should be. It ends up a giant pissing contest between people huddled around a television, trying to prove they are the biggest soccer fan and know the most.
Soccer fans in the United States act like they know something the rest of us (well, I am a soccer fan, but I’m distancing myself from them for now) don’t. They talk about how much the game should grow inside the country, and how it’s destined to be the top sport. Yet, they act offended, even appalled, when someone trying to break into the game offers any piece of insight they don’t like. Like it or not, but part of the appeal to American football is not just the game itself. Nor is it entirely the drinking either. No, part of it, is the experience sitting around with friends and watching the game on TV. No one is arguing over the execution of the left guard’s zone read block, or if the quarterback’s mechanics are the reason for his missed throw. No, that kind of pretension is only in soccer.
Want to grow the game more in the country? Yeah, winning more in the World Cup would help, but that’s all. Those hardcore fans? The ones that know every player in the world’s name because they’ve played so much Fifa on XBox? The ones that cling to the European vocabulary for all things fútbol-related? That seriously say pitch instead of field? Yeah, maybe it’s time they realize that they’re holding back the sport back as much as anyone else in the country.