Hey Soccer, It’s Not Me, It’s You.

USA v Germany: Group G - 2014 FIFA World Cup BrazilThe World Cup is on.

Meh, you knew that. You knew it even if you’re not paying any attention to it, because it’s impossible to ignore. Not only is Twitter blowing up with people talking about, but Twitter itself is even sending email updates despite the fact that I specifically checked the box telling them that I don’t care.  Google is constantly alerting me of scores that I only care about to see if my random guessing in the pick’em league might be right1. You can’t miss it. If nothing else you can’t miss the constant shaming of people who aren’t interested.

But I’m not afraid, and I don’t feel guilty. I’ll shout it from the rooftops…

I DON’T LIKE SOCCER!

Now that we have that clear…

I’ve tried. I really have. I’ve gone to games, even ones that were a pretty big deal, in hopes of discovering what the cult of soccer enjoyment is all about2. In a couple tries I had the exact same experience: during the first half I looked at the clock knowing that it had to be close to halftime only to find that the game had only been going for 5 minutes. It’s like the place where time stands still.

Sure, the sport itself has plenty to not like. The constant flopping. The tie games. The fact that you can advance by winning just 1/3 of your games in the preliminary round. That once you’re done with ties, the overtime games are decided by what is essentially a flip of a coin. And yes, you can compare that to things in other sports. Some of your comparisons are valid, and some are just silly… but doing so only assumes that I’ve decided that the way everything is done in all other sports is perfect. And that’s simply not true3.

So I don’t like it. To me, it’s just boring. I get what comes next in this argument. If you’re reading this because you love soccer, you’re about to skip ahead to the comments to tell me that baseball is boring. That football constantly stops. That I just don’t understand it. That the final scores are similar to hockey4. I’m too stupid to get it. That the rest of the world loves it, so I should too. And frankly, if it wasn’t for you, I might be willing to give it a few more shots and see if I can figure out why anyone can stand to watch a game… but your constant defensiveness and belittling of people who don’t like it are more off-putting than the sport itself5.

So even for all that bores me in a game, the biggest turnoff to soccer, is soccer fans. Watch social media anytime there’s something everyone is talking about, be it football, baseball, basketball, or hockey, or whatever it may be and people will be there pointing out that they don’t like it. People will make jokes about it. People will complain about the coverage. And it just doesn’t matter. I don’t feel the need to convince them otherwise. But suddenly all of that is off limits with soccer. Each day I make a few jokes about soccer, and I watch soccer fans unfollow me on Twitter, or berate me, or attempt to convert me. If you say you don’t like baseball or hockey, those of us who do say, “OK.”  If we say we don’t like soccer, the fans go into evangelism mode. Every stereotypical argument comes out. Columns are written explaining why we need to love it.

 

Tomorrow, when the US plays, I’ll watch. And I’ll cheer for America. And I hope we win. In the mean time, write all you want, but I’m unconvinced… and frankly, it’s your fault.

capture

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Notes:

  1. It’s not. Thinking of instituting a new strategy of picking based on which country has better food.
  2. To be fair, I haven’t tried wearing a scarf on a 90 degree day. Maybe that’s more essential than it seems.
  3. “But Oklahoma lost in 2003 and then played for a national title!” Shut up. No one ever said the BCS was good!
  4. This one pisses me off every time. Sure, both games might have a 3-1 final score, but hockey will have 40 shots on goal in the process. Soccer? Nope.
  5. Oh, and by the way, it’s a game played on a field by players wearing uniforms and shoes, and it sure isn’t football. If you want to use other terminology, that’s fine, but you can’t make me do it.