June 3, 2010

The American Advantage in Soccer

Soccer is fun to play, but dull to watch on TV. Americans might have the highest ratio of hours spent playing soccer to hours spent watching soccer.

Is that so bad?

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dull to watch on TV...?

You are kidding, right...?!

Or will you really be ignoring the World Cup, while the rest of us watch it? ;-)

Anonymous said...

The American advantage is that we don't play soccer.

We play football.

[Are you trying to turn this blog into isteve.blogspot.uk, isteve.blogspot.de, or isteve.blogspot.il?]

Anonymous said...

Another soccer thread?

One thing still unclear about soccer is which race dominates. In the last World Cup Italy's entirely white team won the final against France's almost all black side. Though, that was through penalties when they had fought each other to a draw.

Then again, Mestizos probably come out tops, considering the amount of World Cup victories South and Central American countries have piled up. Something the Mother countries of Spain and Portugal have largely failed to achieve.

I think the best team scenario is the Brazillian setup. A high IQ captain of European stock leading a team of mostly blacks.

But wait...France tried that. They got close I suppose.

SGOTI said...

Dull to watch on TV...?

You are kidding, right...?!


Boring? Enuff said:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noOHdTQd6H8

sj071 said...

I always thought football in US is a very Un-American activity. It's just not meant to be.

p.s. Dull to watch? Maybe. It's like most of human endavours Steve, a tsunami of bullshit but you still find a gem or two washed ashore.

fafasdfasf said...

Here's an idea for a great game.

A warped playing field with ridges and grooves. Guys on roller blades(and some guys on skateboards). That oughta make lacrosse lot more fun. Or maybe they use a frisbee.

Anonymous said...

OT..........

American football seems to be the sport to me that necessitates almost all a man's physical capabilities the most often. Visospatial throwing and catching with the hands, running with the feet, tacking and blocking using every muscle in the body. The need for both brute strength, explosive speed, agile and quick changes of direction, the ability to overcome overwhelming pain, teamwork, the necessity to remember a vast amount of plays in a playbook, multiple formations and defensive approaches and various rules-to-be-followed. I think it best celebrates all a man has evolved to be able to do. I respect the fact that others may disagree passionately with that though.


Soccer seems much more fun to play than to watch, like car racing, Lacrosse (more impressed with that than I was prepared to be), and hockey. Im sure speed cycling is exhilirating, but its just not spectator-stuff. Kicking the soccer ball and keeping it away from the defender did require immense concentration, but when you don't have the ball, or are not immediately defending the opponent with the ball, the adrenaline wanes.


I think the hardest thing to do in sports is still consistently hitting a baseball. Michael Jordan couldn't even hit minor leaguers. The more Ive found out about Jordan, the more satifying this fact becomes to me.

Anonymous said...

Simply put, soccer looks exhausting and very frustrating as no human being is as precise with their feet as they are with their hands. It celebrates something we have evolved past.........................

........its almost as if they concocted a game in which you nudged a ball along with your nose while the rules stated you had to run on "all-fours" like a dog. That game would build your shoulders up to Mr. Olympia proportions, and your upper body would no doubt become fantastically developed with the strength of a gymnast, but any regular fellow who could carry a ball while running upright would still be able to make a fool out of the greatest champion that was adhering to the rules.

Jim O said...

Americans find it boring because we have no rooting interest. I thought soccer was boring to watch on TV till I bet serious money on Ireland-Italy when we hosted the world Cup in the 90's. Suddenly,the scales fell from my eyes. Similarly, once the Nets moved from Long Island to New Jersey, I had no team to root for. Ever since then, pro basketball has bored me, except on those occasions where I created artificial interest for myself with a bet. Not having formed an emotional attachment to a team when young, we have no reason to care. I think that's most of the problem.

dearieme said...

"Soccer is fun to play, but dull to watch on TV." The answer is to watch edited highlights of soccer games - the BBC broadcasts a fine programme of this sort on Saturday evenings throughout the season.

Anonymous said...

Americans can't watch a sport if it's not interrupted every 30 seconds for a beer commercial.

mikey said...

Anonymous said: Then again, Mestizos probably come out tops, considering the amount of World Cup victories South and Central American countries have piled up.

The only sides outside of Europe that have won the biggest prize in soccer are Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay - Central America hasn't historically produced good soccer teams. As for the race of the winners, Brazil's winning sides have included black and white players, while the other two nations' victories were achieved with an almost entirely ethnically European squad. I think only one 'mestizo' has lifted the World Cup: the greatest player of all time, Diego Armando Maradona.

Remember the sports that Americans enjoy watching like Nascar, American football & baseball are torture to watch to the uninitiated. If the Dallas Cowboys were playing the '49ers in my back garden I wouldn't bother opening my curtains. The whistle blows - a bunch of giant black guys in sports armour run into each other and fall over - then the game stops for five minutes as they all try to get their breath back? I can see why broadcasters would love a sport with so many in-built ad-breaks but a game of almost non-stop action for 90 mins (with a reasonable 15 min break in the middle) is surely more exciting for the viewer?

Matra said...

Then again, Mestizos probably come out tops, considering the amount of World Cup victories South and Central American countries have piled up. Something the Mother countries of Spain and Portugal have largely failed to achieve.

No Central American team has ever won the WC - and never will. In South America only Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay have won. Most of the best players Argentina and Uruguay have produced have been of European background.

Anonymous said...

Monkeys use their hands to swing from tree to tree. Soccer is humanity's celebration of bipedal transport.

One thing still unclear about soccer is which race dominates. In the last World Cup Italy's entirely white team won the final against France's almost all black side. Though, that was through penalties when they had fought each other to a draw.

The defensive back four of the French team in 1998 was 50% white. A back four in excess of 50% black has never won the World Cup - except Brazil 1962 I put at a mean 53%.

Also, no team has ever won the World Cup fielding a midfield boasting an average height taller than 1.77cm (5'8). This includes the Italy team of 2006, which was a magnitude beefier than any that had ever won the competition. Unlike the other positions, the midfield position in soccer appears to be stubbornly resistant to taller players.

- Edward

ironrailsironweights said...

American football seems to be the sport to me that necessitates almost all a man's physical capabilities the most often.

Yet it's also a sport which almost no one over age 21 actually plays. There are very few if any semipro or amateur leagues for adults, and the sport's complexity and equipment requirements makes informal pickup games nearly impossible. Touch football and flag football are very pale imitations of the real thing.

Peter

Luke Lea said...

Personally I much prefer watching elite (top 4 in Premier League) soccer to American football or basketball, in part because I've watched so many football and basketball games I feel I have seen it all. Soccer is still full of surprises. Plus the athletes are almost certainly the most athletic and the fastest runners in the world how could they not be considering the money, the glory, and the size of the pool they draw from? They're also the best looking, not freaks of size.

DAJ said...

Then again, Mestizos probably come out tops, considering the amount of World Cup victories South and Central American countries have piled up.

What Central American team has won the World Cup?

I think the best team scenario is the Brazillian setup. A high IQ captain of European stock leading a team of mostly blacks.

But wait...France tried that. They got close I suppose.


Before losing in 2006, France did win the World Cup in 1998 with a similar team.

jody said...

water polo has by far the highest

difficulty-to-nobody-gives-a-F

ratio of any sport i've ever played. it's way hard, but nobody wants to watch.

Black Death said...

If you think soccer's boring on TV (and it is), try golf. There's even a whole cable channel devoted to this most soporific activity that broadcasts it around the clock. Yuck!

Blanking On My Old Screen Name said...

I think a reason soccer seems boring to some Americans is that there's no intrinsic appreciation for the difficulty of the "little stuff."

And that's understandable, because Americans who haven't played the sport (at a level beyond youth soccer, which isn't actually soccer) generally don't realize how magnificent it is simply to successfully settle a ball with one's foot, then successfully direct that ball to another human being, one who is often on the move and is marked by other human beings who would like to screw up your whole thing.

That seems to be the part of the game that the "it's boring" crowd usually point to: those midfield stretches of passing and moving, where play is simmering and steadily building. To the soccer-initiated, those stretches are as gripping as anything else, because there's an intuitive recognition and appreciation of the difficulty involved.

I'm not proselytizing here, honest. If you like it, you like it; if not, cool. I know how it is. I hated soccer -- even the very IDEA of soccer -- until I started playing in my 20s. I soon came to realize just how intricate and athletic and technical it all is. And truth be told, it's about all I watch now. It kind of pains me to even write that out loud, because it's like a betrayal of my football/baseball-loving childhood. But it's true. And it's true for a growing number of my friends.

I'm about as pumped for this World Cup as I've ever been for any sporting event.

Peter A said...

Steve, you've probably watched very few decent soccer matches. All MLS games are pretty crappy, and so is American high school and college. But what Americans don't realize is that World Cup Soccer is usually fairly low quality as well. The players don't get a lot of time to practice together, there's not the same camaraderie you have on your regular club. A real club like Manchester United or Barcelon would wipe the floor with any national team. Premier League or Champions League soccer is actually often pretty entertaining.

jack strocchi said...

Steve S. said:

Soccer is fun to play, but dull to watch on TV.

Steve, your cognitive development has been impaired by a combination of American chauvinism and instinctive distrust of SWPL preferences:

Soccer is by far and away the most watched sport on TV, the wide world over. The global TV figures are conclusive on this:
According to Sponsorship Intelligence:

715.1 million people - give or take, one in ten people alive at the time - watched the last showpiece final. How accurate this figure is is open to debate when one considers the difficulties in gauging audiences in Africa and Asia, as well as those millions who watch the match in a communal setting such as a bar, or even at work.

Indeed, with the number of people watching in cafes, bars, town squares and even fanzones around the world, the ripple effect will be felt far beyond living rooms.

And that's before we even think about the tournament as a whole. FIFA, after much wrangling, settled on a figure of 26.29 billion cumulative World Cup views - comfortably enough for everyone on the planet to have watched more than three matches. The vast majority of these were in-home, at 24.2 billion.

These figures put the World Cup streets ahead of any other sporting competition's verifiable figures, including the Olympic Games and the Super Bowl. That's not too surprising in the case of the latter: despite the gargantuan status of American Football's biggest prize, the last World Cup was broadcast in 214 countries and territories and thus has a global reach that even the Olympics would struggle to match.


Obviously Steve is missing something.

American football is a virtuoso display of athletic ability and tactical intelligence but is boring to watch on TV. Too complicated and too many breaks in play.

Soccer is also the last legitimate forum for the expression of nationalist sympathies. Since I have the privilege of dual citizenship may I just say:

Go the Socceroos!

Forza Italia!

asdfasfafdsf said...

Is it really an advantage? Lots of Chinese seem to run, ride bicycles, and play basketball, but they don't seem to be good at track, cycling, and ball games.

For US to win in world soccer competition, it doesn't matter HOW MANY Americans play but WHAT KIND of Americans play. Soccer is mostly played by school kids with no great athletic talent. It's not a sport that attracts the best natural athletes.
In highschool and college, the best of the best go into basketball or football.

I hear the Muslim world graduates many more engineers than Israel, but if we compare the quality, a single Jewish is worth a 1000 Muslim ones.

Steve Johnson said...

Ah yes, soccer, the most exciting of all sports to watch. After all, everyone wishes they could watch a sport where every time players come within 15 feet of each other someone falls down clutching their shin.

Oh the drama!

Who will clutch their shin more emphatically!?

Anonymous said...

Great point Steve, that's why you're the best in the business. Soccer is a sport invented by European women to keep themselves busy while their husbands made them dinner.

Dan in DC

Reg Cæsar said...

Americans treat soccer like lovemaking: something almost everyone has tried, but only a pervert would pay to watch.

Truth said...

"But wait...France tried that. They got close I suppose."

Uh, they won in '98.

Truth said...

"Most of the best players Argentina and Uruguay have produced have been of European background."

If Maradona is not a Mestizo, they should take the word out of the dictionary.

Matra said...

Two posts on soccer in two days. Does that mean you'll be watching (live blogging!) the big USA v England match next Saturday?

This may be the only time in our lives when a group of men representing the US of A will be the most popular men on earth. (Though only for 90 minutes, of course)

Reg Cæsar said...

Growing up between the baseball and soccer halls of fame had me making these comparisons from a very young age. A few observations from four decades:

Baseball, soccer and cricket will not, but for rare exceptions (e.g. England, which invented two of (US) them), co-exist in the same country. This is not due to any differences in the sport, but to their similarities-- slow, grassy, defensive endeavors. (Well, maybe cricket isn't that defensive, going by the scores...)

These three sports tend to exclude the physical extremes, as do many others. Football and basketball, however, are nothing but extremes. They exclude the normal.

If soccer is "the world's sport", it's only by a plurality. Half the world lives in the four largest countries, none of which is soccer territory. Six of the top seven, and nine of the top fifteen, are soccer deserts.

For all the talk of sissy socialist Europeans, it's the North American leagues which are welfarist. They reward the losers with draft picks! Leagues following the FA model-- including European basketball-- expel them. That's Darwinian capitalism. But they pay a stiff price in parity.

So while the average US or Canadian franchise has a better chance at winning a pennant, its fans face an even greater likelihood of losing their squad to the taxpayer-subsidized plutocrats of another city. Who's better off?

By the way, watching sports on TV is less watching sports than watching TV.

Anonymous said...

If I could change one thing about myself, it wouldn't be to start drinking or smoking so mainstream guys like you all would like me. That's too big a change. I would, however, somehow figure out a way to like sports, or at least convincingly pretend to.

Sports is to men as Twilight is to women, I guess. I'm not in to either, so I have no friends.
:(

Outland said...

Steve,

Football boring? You should watch more fun teams, like the Nigeria, Netherlands or Brazil. You should have seen the Russians or the Czechs on big euro tournaments; they gave fantastic performances. They're all offensive, attacking teams who play to win. Most top teams play not to lose, Italy being the most awful exponent.

The Brits used to have a kick-and-rush system, which is both stupid and ugly, but nowadays play generally well. Their league is full of teams who give away attractive football.

"Most of the best players Argentina and Uruguay have produced have been of European background."

Most top Argentinian players play in Europe. Sometimes, they're Mestizo (Tevez or Ortega), but mostly they're of Spanish/Italian descent (Crespo, Batistuta, Zanetti and Cambiasso, Simeone, etc.) Many White Argentinians are of Italian descent, just see their squad and check the names.

Uruguay, I don't know much about. It's too small, not a big football nation. Terribly defensive as well.

Tom Regan said...

Americans only seem to like sports that stop every few seconds to remind the players of what they're meant to be doing.
Soccer by contrast has no stoppages except for halftime. So in many ways its like jazz music because they're largely the results of improvisation. Both rely on how well individual talents can coalesce into a cohesive whole. Sometimes it just doesn't gel, and it becomes a mess, sometimes it just all comes together and produces something wonderful.
I challenge anyone to say that this isn't more interesting than a bunch of short attention-span retards in spandex posing every 3 seconds to celebrate a tackle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSsdfe4Z69g

Silver said...

That seems to be the part of the game that the "it's boring" crowd usually point to: those midfield stretches of passing and moving, where play is simmering and steadily building. To the soccer-initiated, those stretches are as gripping as anything else, because there's an intuitive recognition and appreciation of the difficulty involved.

That might have something to do with it. But you're neglecting the cultural angle.

Soccer, to those of us who love watching it, goes way beyond the mere technical aspects of the sport. Half the fun is bearing witness to the unfolding ethnic/national drama. Being partly of Serbian extraction, my elation over Red Star Belgrade's triumph in the 1991 European Champions Cup over the heavily favored Marseilles was almost transcendental. Similar to Israelis/Jews, a large part of Serbian identity revolves around believing the entire world is against you, so the country descending into chaos only months later made the victory all the sweeter, sort of a "last stand," in my mind.

The "drama" aspect goes beyond merely what happens to whichever team you identify with. The ethnic soccer fan assumes all other soccer fans are as invested in the outcomes of matches as he is, so it's very easy to get caught up in the excitement of others' rivalries and experience a diminished but still considerable rush. For example, in the 1990 round of 16, Brazil spent virtually the entire game peppering the Argies' goal, hitting the post some half a dozen times, but one flash of brilliance from Maradona, threading a pass between two or three players to a wide open Caniggia, who went on to round the keeper and tuck it away, and Brazil were toast. Brazil crashes out to hated Argies despite dominating the game; there wasn't a soccer fan in the world who didn't understand the significance of that. Pure exhilaration.

I could go on.

I suppose most sports fans experience some of this at least at some point in their lives, but I doubt it reaches the heights of international soccer.

For me, the racial aspect to it is this: if the only people playing soccer were non-Europeans, say Asians or Indians from the subcontinent, I would supremely lose interest. The excitement comes from watching 'whites' (ie of various 'grades') being pitted against each other. That obviously includes most of S. America. Most of them aren't actually white-skinned, but many retain rather obvious morphological 'caucasoidality' so it still feels like it's in the ball park, and that feeling is of course bolstered by certain cultural and historical affinities. Other races can be present, but imo, you need at least four (out of eleven) distinctly European phenotypes on the pitch for it to still you're playing a European or quasi-European team. (ie France in the last world cup failed miserably in this respect.)

Silver said...

Uruguay, I don't know much about. It's too small, not a big football nation.

Uruguay is considered more prominent than it really is by virtue of its two World Cup victories, even though they occurred a lifetime ago.

Other teams that were once prominent (without ever winning anything), like Hungary and Austria, have become virtual minnows. Greece, who has really only started to come on strong in the last couple of decades, is a powerhouse in comparison.

guest007 said...

For all of the soccer apologist.

1. American football is the most television friendly sport since the with replays on television, the viewers can catch most of what is going on. American football is about the worst sport to watch in person because the play is impossible to follow.

2. Americans do not like soccer for a variety of reasons.

a. Americans have a wide choice of high level sports to watch. What is the second most watched sport in England, Brazil, the Netherlands.

b. Americans like hand to eye coordination. Thus, baseball, basketball, football are most popular in the U.S.

c. Americans like desperate play and last second come backs. A 2-0 lead in soccer is the same as leading by 30 points in basketball, four touchdowns in football, or 8 runs in baseball.

d. Americans like last second wins. There is no Hail Mary pass, walk off home run, shot at the buzzer in soccer. The last five minutes of a 0-0 game looks the same as the first five minutes. Even Hockey is better at last minute comebacks than soccer.

e. Professional soccer in Europe is designed so that the same few teams win all of the championships. There would be no New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl, San Antonio Spurs in the NBA finals, or George Mason in the Final Four in Europe.

f. Americans like to cheer actual plays and have no interest in singing at sporting events. Why always amazes me about soccer is how disconnected the crowd seems to be from the actual play.

Steve Sailer said...

"d. Americans like last second wins. There is no Hail Mary pass, walk off home run, shot at the buzzer in soccer. The last five minutes of a 0-0 game looks the same as the first five minutes. Even Hockey is better at last minute comebacks than soccer."

I went to an NHL playoff game in 1982, where with 15 minutes left, Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers were up 5-0 over the LA Kings. I didn't know much about hockey so I was surprised when a friend who was a hockey expert got up to leave and beat the traffic. "Come on, the Kings only have to score one goal every three minutes," I explained. He left anyway. The Kings proceeded, just as I predicted, to score five straight goals to tie the game 5-5 with five seconds left. I was surprised when all the Kings fans around me exulted that the game was going to overtime. "Whaddaya mean overtime? There's five whole seconds left! We're going to win now! Jerry West could sink two baskets in five seconds, so why can hockey players?"

But, the Kings didn't even get a shot off in the last five seconds, so I was kind of disappointed when they won 6-5 in overtime. Sure, they scored six straight goals to win and everything, but it would have been cooler if they hadn't needed overtime to do it.

Gc said...

Soccer players run maybe 10 or more kilometres per game. Those are different kind of athletes than NFL players.

Silver said...

d. Americans like last second wins. There is no Hail Mary pass, walk off home run, shot at the buzzer in soccer. The last five minutes of a 0-0 game looks the same as the first five minutes. Even Hockey is better at last minute comebacks than soccer.

True. But that makes soccer comebacks all the more memorable when they do occur.

For example, Manchester United's come-from-behind win against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final. Down 1-0 Man U scored two goals in the dying seconds. Absolutely unforgettable.

Soccer also has the drama (and associated heartache) of the penalty shootout.

But you're right, nothing can match the excitement of a three-pointer at the buzzer or a hail mary for the win. (I recently saw back to back three-pointers from the other end of the floor to win it in the last seconds in some obscure eastern European league. One team was cheers and hugs thinking they'd clinched the come-from-behind game-winner only to see the other team clinch it right back. What other sport can provide that?)

American pro sports are also distinguished by the quality of the commentators. For the longest time the commentary outside America, while often very passionate, only provided the bare bones. It's really only been since the turn of the century, imo, that the rest have begun catching up. In my opinion, they still lag behind significantly.

Howard Hughes said...

"One thing still unclear about soccer is which race dominates."
Well, the sport is fairly diverse. Europeans, or people of European descent, still are they top, but there is a lot of Africans - especially as defenders and central forwards. In a country like Brazil, we clearly see how both whites and blacks play on an elite level. Mestizos haven't been as successful as most here seem to think, but of course Maradona is a glorious exception.

This might have something to do with that, unlike basketball and unlike American football, football (I'm not going to call it "soccer") got players with very different body types. You got tall and lean goalies, strong defenders, short and fast midfielders and so on. Sure, the average height for a football player probably is higher than the average height for Italy or Portugal or whatever, but in some positions short height is an advantage and it isn't hard to find short & extremly talented players.

What sports a person like and dislikely has a lot to do what that person has grown up with. It certainly isn't strange that Americans find football boring - just like it isn't strange that I can't understand the magic of baseball.

Peter A said...

"Americans like hand to eye coordination. Thus, baseball, basketball, football are most popular in the U.S. "

Oh please. That's a silly rationaliztion, not an argument. There are plenty of sports that require hand-eye coordination that aren't that popular - lacrosse, handball, field hockey, etc. The three sports you mention are popular because they were invented here and we grew up with them. There's no objective measure by which soccer is better or worse than American football, we like what we grew up with , sort of like musical taste. Tradition and history is very important in sports. We want that connection to our fathers and our fathers fathers. Soccer does not offer that if you're an average American - it may if, like me, you have Italian or other immigrant ancestors. If baseball had been invented in Ukraine in 1860 and become the most popular sport in Central Europe, I guarantee you no one in America would ever watch it.

Dutch reader said...

"Half the world lives in the four largest countries, none of which is soccer territory."

Indonesia may have competitive teams, but soccer is very popular as an spectator sport. For lack of a successful national team, many Indonesians root for one of more successful national teams in international games, to the point of dressing op with the national colors of, say, Italy or Brazil.

The only sport where Indonesians compete at the international elite level are badminton, their practically unknown 'national sport' pencak silat (a martial art, kinda like kung fu). And then there's takraw which is like an acrobatic variant of foot-volleyboll (using somersaults and such) and AFAIK is reasonally popular in Asian countries only.

Matra said...

guest007: What is the second most watched sport in England, Brazil, the Netherlands.

England - Formula One, international rugby and cricket,

Brazil - F1, I think volleyball and basketball are big too

The Netherlands - F1 again, also the motorcycle version called MotoGP, possibly field hockey and speed skating

Americans are always saying they have more sporting choice but it just isn't true. I should also point out that the second most popular sport in those countries, F1, is relatively more popular in all three than either baseball or basketball is in the US (based on TV ratings). So soccer actually has more competition than does the NFL in the US.

A better explanation for American indifference to the sport is that it, being Anglo-Saxon, invented its own sports. Almost every major modern sport was invented and codified by an Anglo-Saxon nation. The US, being the oldest (other than the UK) and biggest, as well as culturally isolated from the motherland, was able to come up with its own sports before British sports were internationalised. By the time British sports became accessible in the US you already had a well developed sports culture of your own. Even Australia, a much younger country that was populated after the major British sports became popular, managed to invent its own football code whereas non-Anglo countries, instead of coming up with their own, just play games the Brits and Americans invented.

Matra said...

I went to an NHL playoff game in 1982, where with 15 minutes left, Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers were up 5-0 over the LA Kings... The Kings proceeded, just as I predicted, to score five straight goals to tie the game 5-5 with five seconds left.

You're lucky. That is one of the most famous NHL games in the history of the league. The LA come -from-behind victory still gets mentioned on Canadian TV and sports radio.

Felix said...

Football is leagues ahead of any American sport in its structure and setup. Just think about it this way: in order to professionally play any American sport, increasingly even baseball, you have to have placed very high on the genetic lottery in the sense that you have to be tall and broad. Thus, even someone of vast skill and talent is at the mercy of his stature. Basketball in particular is ridiculously flawed in this respect, you'd have to be crazy to make pursuing your NBA your dream because no matter how good you are skill-wise, you're banking that you'll keep getting taller way past the point at which you should stop.

Football on the other hand still rewards athleticism, height, and speed, but they are not prerequisites. Just look at today's two best players: Messi and Ronaldo. They are perfect opposites, Messi being 5'8 and relying on his skill, touch and quickness and Ronaldo at 6'1 being famous for his pace and athleticism.

Anonymous said...

Soccer is the vegetable of sports.

Its like your mother told you when you were little. "Eat it because its good for you. Why can't you be more like that nice boy down the street who always obeys his mommy?"

Anonymous said...

"d. Americans like last second wins. There is no Hail Mary pass, walk off home run, shot at the buzzer in soccer. The last five minutes of a 0-0 game looks the same as the first five minutes. Even Hockey is better at last minute comebacks than soccer.

Not true,There are plenty of last second comebacks. You can never leave a soccer game early. You can score at any time.

ben tillman said...

Dull to watch on TV...?

I think it televises well. The ball is big and easy to follow even when the camera pulls back to show a large part of the field. Maybe you just find it dull to watch, period. And that's okay. De gustibus....

guest007 said...

A 2-0 lead is soccer is virtually impossible to overcome. A 1-0 lead in the last few minutes means the team in the lead is playing slow and kicking the ball out of bounds a lot.

Soccer does not have a two-minute drill, a full court press, a pulling the goalie for an extra skater. Even the substituions are limited unlike the last minute changes in football or the pinch hitter in baseball.

Kirk Gibson hitting a home run in the world series when coming off the bench is more dramaitc than anything that happens in soccer.

Anonymous said...

"A 2-0 lead is soccer is virtually impossible to overcome. A 1-0 lead in the last few minutes means the team in the lead is playing slow and kicking the ball out of bounds a lot."

Ugh. You can always tell the ones who are talking out of their Khyber.

Sometimes the only thing in soccer more dangerous than a 1-0 lead, is a 2-0 lead.

I've seen far too many leads vanish to stop watching just because someone is ahead. "It's a funny old game" as they say, and if you think that soccer is really that predictable, it shows you haven't watched it nearly enough.

Last winter at the African nations cup a team came back to tie after being down four goals, in the final ten minutes! These sorts of things happen often enough in soccer to make the game very interesting, but you'll never know that if your only exposure to soccer is watching a few World Cup matches every four years, looking for excuses to add to your list of reasons why "soccer is boring" (to YOU).

Look, if you have a bunch of gimmicks designed to "make the game more interesting" and to allow "last minute come from behind wins", you are devaluing the majority of game time by overemphasizing the final ten minutes or so of game time. In soccer, all 90 minutes are equally important. If the hail mary pass is so f_cking brilliant, why not just have the game consist of the final half minute of play, and let the team with the best hail mary pass win? Why bother with the rest of the game?

Stop making excuses and rationalizations: this is a matter of taste, not fact. You find boring a sport you don't know, don't understand, and don't like. Wow! I'll bet this explains your taste in music and food, as well. Funny that.

DCThrowback said...

As if on cue...

SWPL: http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2010/06/01/133-the-world-cup/

The line about betting on African countries slays me.

Steve, also have to agree with Matra. You were at one of the greatest hockey games of all time ("Miracle on Manchester") and you complained it went to overtime. Hilarious. However, I secretly am holding out hope that you are rooting for your native Chicago Blackhawks to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in this year's Stanley Cup. If you have a Stan Mikita jersey, now's about time to break it out.

Here's a pretty good video of the aforementioned "Miracle" - the best part is you can't see the game tying goal with 6 seconds left because, I think, Steve is blocking the camera view from his seats at center ice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=xKWWhswwZog&feature=related

N.B. - No game in the US has benefited more from the introduction of HD TV as hockey. It's not even close.