Friday, June 13, 2014

Why It's OK to Suck at Soccer

The World Cup is underway and Team USA Coach Jurgen Klinsman is in hot water with American fans for admitting that his team has no chance to win.  Personally, I have no problem with Klinsman's comments and I applaud him for his brutal honesty.  The Men's National Team is in a transitional stage from a group of veterans who saw unprecedented international success to younger guys who are still learning the international game.  Yet, there are many fans with the delusional belief that the Red, White and Blue are going to put on this Cinderella run out of the "Group of Death" and give 21st Century sports fans their own "Miracle on Grass" moment.

While I am admittedly jingoistic--and believe that the US should crush every other country in every other sport--I am more than willing to concede soccer to the international community.  I consider it an affront to our country to lose in Basketball, Football, Baseball and Hockey--but I am perfectly okay with us sucking at Soccer.  And there are three pretty basic reasons for that.

One, soccer is an incredibly rudimentary game, and we are more advanced than that.  As many third world countries prove, to play soccer all you need is a ball and some space.  Here in the US, we've moved on to sports that require lots of equipment--and expensive equipment at that.  Ask any hockey player or golfer how much they drop on their gear sometime.  It would probably be enough to live fairly comfortably in soccer hotbeds like Cameroon and Ghana.  We also like sports where we get to use our hands and throw things.

Two, we hate flopping.  The first game of this year's World Cup encapsulated perfectly what Americans despise about soccer as Brazil was awarded a pivotal penalty kick after one of its players went down like he had been shot, stabbed and poisoned by one of the Croatian defenders.  The only problem was, multiple replays showed the Croat missed the Brazilian by about six inches.  Brazil converts the PK--breaks the 1-all tie and goes on to win--while the announcers can defend it only by saying "That's soccer!"

And three, international soccer is the most corrupt sport on the planet.  Comedian John Oliver had a brilliant piece on his show Last Week Tonight about how FIFA (the governing body of soccer) is the most evil entity in the world--stealing money from poor countries, taking bribes to decide where to hold World Cups and to get members into leadership positions.

What's more, there have been widespread match-fixing controversies and referees who have admitted cheating for certain teams.  I'll grant you, Professional Wrestling has a big fan base here in the US--but we still prefer our real sports to be on the up-and-up. 

So don't get too disappointed if Team USA bows out early from this year's World Cup--it's just not in our DNA to be good at it.  Kind of like Socialism.

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