Soccer. Association football. Football. Footy. A game played the world over, with the only equipment required being a ball-like object and feet. It’s played on pitches in England, beaches in Goa, fields in Ghana, streets in Rome. It travels with communities as the emigrate. Where I live, the winner of a match is signaled not on the TV or radio, but by which neighborhood honks and cheers the loudest at game’s end. It is a sport that belongs to everyone, and yet to no one.
This week marks the end of Euro Cup 12, the second biggest soccer tournament in the sport. In cafes, bars, backyards, homes, and hovels all over the world, fans are tuning in to cheer for their favorite team, or more notably for their national team. And yet here in the good ole U-S-of-A, no give a flying scissor kick about a bunch of Euro trash douchebags running around a field the size of New Jersey after a silly white ball. Why do Americans still despise the “beautiful game”? It seems like the US should love it. It’s a sport. It promotes racism and hooliganism. There are soap opera story lines involving drugs, alcohol, hookers, drugs, hookers, sex, and drugs. But Headshots knows why Americans hate soccer, and always will. And it has nothing to do with 0-0 games that take 8 and a half hours to play.
American’s hate anything that isn’t straight male, Christian dominated. We like our white God, NFL, marriage between a man and woman, and sex the same way. Soccer is anything but. The players sometimes celebrate a goal by kissing one another, or taking off their shirts, or simulating fellatio. Players have come out of the closet while pros. David Beckham is married to one of the cross dressing dudes from the Spice Girls. No thanks, says straight uptight America! We prefer a good ol’ man’s sport. A straight man’s sport. Where an attractive uneducated white man crouches over a chubby Mid-Western farm boy and shoves his hands into his ass. Which brings us to…
2. We Already Have Football, and it’s Awesome, Thanks
Why did the Euros have to go and steal our favorite sport’s name, even though it predates American football by centuries? Soccer is a low-scoring, low-contact, self-governed game where even skinny, short people from Third World countries can star.
The US didn’t bomb Hiroshima so that men could run around as equals to 0-0 ties between Cameroon and the Ukraine. American football has everything you need from a sport: Sexual assault, gambling, murder, Kim Kardashian, pageantry, and Texas. Take your ball back to Libya, commie!
3. Invented by Foreigners
Americans play sports invented by Americans. That’s the way it’s been. That’s the way it will always be. Baseball. Invented by Abner Doubleday. Well, actually is a game based on cricket, which was invented by the British in the late sixteenth century, but Americans were the ones who added a 162 game season, $500 seats, $20 hot dogs, $15 beers, and Human Growth Hormones.
And basketball. Hoops. A game of grace and dignity. Invented by American James Naismith and his peach baskets in Massachusettes in 1914. Sure, Naismith was actually Canadian. But Canadians are just Americans who don’t invade countries for oil, and socially progressive values. But Americans were the ones who added the sneaker industry, the slam dunk contest, and Shaq Diesel. Put that in your peach basket.
The most offensive (besides, ironically, the total lack of offense) part of soccer is the diving. Players are taught at an early age about flopping, falling, diving, and crying in order to receive a penalty kick or get another player a yellow card. It’s an affront to the game, it lacks dignity and character, and it is an insult to everything that is pure and decent about sport.
There’s no punchline here. The diving is ridiculous. Seriously. it should be a punishable offence. The acting in soccer makes Jack Nicholson look like Pauley Shore.
5. The US Sucks at Soccer. Football. Soccer.
We don’t just hate the things that we’re not good at, we despise things that we don’t dominate: Energy efficiency, the call center industry, international co-operation.
Fact is soccer just never tickled our fancy. There are four major sports leagues in America: The NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the NHL. Just kidding. The NHL doesn’t count. It’s just a way of collecting taxes from wealthy Canadians while slowly invading their country for their fresh water reserves.
But there’s no room for soccer, and the lack of a successful pro league for kids to aspire to prevents the US from producing a community of dominant soccer players. Kids want to grow up to be rich and famous like their heroes of sport: like O.J. Simpsons, or Kobe Bryant, or Ben Roethlisberger, or Michael Vick. Wealthy celebrities who can commit crimes at will while receiving large endorsement contracts and very little in the way of repercussions.
It’s the American way.
Mike Spry is the author of JACK (Snare Books, 2008), which was shortlisted for the 2009 QWF’s A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, and he was longlisted for the 2010 Journey Prize. His most recent work is Distillery Songs (Insomniac Press, 2011).
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