This is officially the first Frappe post on that sport known to Americans as soccer, you may or may not have heard of it. Since this is quite possibly the last soccer blog to be found on this web page, I’m really not too concerned about offending any enthusiasts. Is anyone else growing a little weary of hearing from that 1% of the U.S. population who insist that soccer is about to take the country by storm? There are a zillion reasons why soccer will never make it big in the states, so I’ll offer up a few that you may not have heard before.
This first theory came from my high school history teacher. While covering the western expansion of the United States, Mr. Norby explained why Americans will always prefer football over soccer. Soccer is a sport in which the ball goes from one goal line to the next with much more frequency than football, and yet the final score is inevitably 1-0. In football, a march into the other team’s territory combined with a little conservative play will typically result in some sort of point scoring; much like America’s journey into the western region, they were never turned away without a little ill-begotten land to show for their efforts. But in soccer, one dropkick by the goalie and all that work goes down the drain; it would be like a quarterback getting picked off nine out of ten trips to the red zone. So according to Mr. Norby, football is more popular than soccer because it is more analogous to American history. I never got a chance to ask him, but I think he’d agree with me that the Lousiana Purchase is the equivalent of a field goal, while reaching the end of the Oregon Trail is a touchdown. (I think we ran up the score and went for two when we picked up Hawaii.)
“Soccer is the largest youth sport in the country,” is probably the favorite argument of soccer enthusiasts, implying that when these sons and daughters of soccer-moms grow up, they’ll help make this soccer-apocalypse fantasy come true. Guess what, it’s been the number one youth sport for twenty years now, and we still haven’t seen any results. Chuck Klosterman has an interesting take on this phenomenon in his Low Culture Manifesto. Klosterman points out that soccer is the perfect sport for kids who hate sports. Little League baseball guarantees at least one humiliating strikeout per game, Pop Warner football is the one place where bullying is encouraged – but in soccer, a kid can go an entire game without touching the ball, and there’s a good chance no one will notice! Soccer kids aren’t growing up to be soccer fans; they’re just biding their time until they hit an age at which it’s acceptable to have “hanging out at the mall” as your main extra-curricular activity.
Now that the MLS has taken its rightful place next to the WNBA on the Sportscenter priority list, I’ve come to my own conclusions about the unpopularity of soccer. Americans don’t like to be influenced by the rest of the world; we’re stuck up and arrogant and we like to think we’re the ones influencing everyone else. Football, baseball, and basketball were all developed on American soil, (yes, you and I both know they evolved from sports across the Atlantic, but the general public doesn’t know that). Soccer is that product that the whole world is selling, but America ain’t buying.
It’s not that I have anything personal against soccer. It’s just that I think I speak for the average American sports fanatic when I say that I can’t ever see myself enjoying watching that sport. ESPN magazine recently ran an article about the possibility of David Beckham coming to the states and saving American soccer. I don’t even think that would work; nothing short of a few WWF/WWE personalities could convince me to tune in. That’s right folks, you heard it first on the Frappe – only The Rock could save the MLS.