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The Flip Side received its first hate-mail comment yesterday! It was a good one, too, on an older blog, so click here and go to the bottom to read the nasty things Macker has to say about me.
Of course, it was one stupid sentence about soccer that set this nut off. I'll get to the reason for that "of course" in a bit.
What I wrote was a one-sentence response to a friend of mine who suggested I explain why I don't like soccer. I wrote "I don't like soccer because it sucks."
Now, for the sake of the rest of this blog entry, let's pretend that what I actually wrote was "I hate soccer because it sucks." Changing "don't like" to "hate" helps my column here a bunch, and on The Flip Side such things are allowed. (I could have very easily wrote "hate" anyway.)
I hate soccer because it sucks.
That statement would only be half true. Soccer does suck - but I don't hate it. When the Lobos made their run in the NCAA Tournament this season, I was packed into Boston's and Saggio's for the last two games, cheering with everyone else. And the upcoming World Cup should be a blast. Last I heard we were ranked No. 4 in the world (is it 5 now?). That should make for some pretty heavy drama.
And that's precisely what soccer needs to be intesting: pretty heavy drama. Because on its own, this sport is as fun to watch as that horrible Christopher Columbus episode of The Sorpanos.
Chuck Klosterman hates soccer so much he wrote in his absolutely phenomenal book "Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs" that he would rather his son grow up selling meth than playing soccer. Klosterman argues that soccer is a sports for outcasts. Pro-soccer psychos will point out that for elementary school-aged kids, soccer is the No. 1 sport in America. Klosterman says in his book that soccer is participated in most widely because kids at that age are being forced by their parents to choose some sport, and soccer is the safest pick for little losers who will grow up to ignore sports completely and shop at Hot Topic.
Think about it. If you stink at baseball, any time on defense is spent praying that the ball is never hit your way. Stepping up to bat is even worse. Bad baseball players can pile up four or five strikeouts easily in a game. In basketball, you're forced to dribble and maybe even shoot. Get fouled and the game will actually stop so you can step to the free-throw line and airball two wide-open shots. And football is completely insane for kids that stink at sports (they probably spend enough of their time dodging hits from bigger kids).
But in soccer, all you gotta do is knock the ball away. You can play an entire game and touch the ball once or twice for maybe five seconds. Kids all over the country ride out youth soccer until they get to high school, when it's finally just fine to smoke on the corner of the parking lot or hang out at the mall all afternoon.
(Again, that's all Klosterman, who has fast become my favorite human being on the planet. I would chop off both my pinky toes or sit through an entire MLS game to be drinking buddies with this dude.)
Ah, say those of you annoying soccer buffs who survived your youth soccer experiences and now play twice weekly and won't shut up about how lame the NBA is, soccer is the most popular sport in the world.
That soccer is the world's most-watched sport means absolutely nothing. The world is stupid about stuff like this. Is "Baywatch" the greatest show in the history of television? Last I heard, it was the most popular damn show mankind has ever seen.
What I see are lulls. Constant movement of the ball back and forth (and back and forth and back and forth and around and back and forth) for 95 percent of the gametime, waiting for exactly the right moment to pop the ball in the goal. I would never want to watch a movie or TV show that spends its entire running time SETTING UP for one or two climaxes that could never come.
And this is professional sports! I watch basketball and football for the explosions that burst from the legs of superhuman athletes. Suppose Game 7 of the NBA finals comes down to a shootout between Dirk and Wade. They're trading buckets for the last six minutes, swapping the lead 20 times until it finally gets down to one second and a buzzer beater to win it all. That's action. What is the soccer equivalent to that? Vince Young had 200 yards rushing and 200 throwing in the Rose Bowl. What's the soccer equivalent?
If you play soccer - enjoy soccer and watch soccer - then great. Good for you because there's absolutely nothing wrong with being a fan of anything (except "Grey's Anatomy"). But most of us think it sucks, and with good reason.
What does everyone think? Is soccer more mainstream than I think? Is it about to blow up in America (like they've been saying for 10 years)? What makes it so great or so boring?
Posted by Phil Parker at 09:06 AM | Permalink
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