Occasional musings, Geistesblitze, photos, drawings etc. by a "resident alien", who has landed on American soil from a far-away planet called "Germany".

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What do Americans make of soccer?

In a comment on the earlier FIFA World Cup post, I briefly alluded to the quadrennial ritual I have been observing in the US since I moved here: Whenever the World Cup is happening somewhere in the world, some Americans fall over themselves declaring how boring, silly etc the game is. H. Hertzberg has a column in the current New Yorker, in which he describes this as a distinctly right-wing phenomenon. I would like to add two points to this discussion (see my comments)


Ulrich said...

The argument some right-wingers make against soccer is that it is "socialist", whereas the popular American team sports are "democratic". If socialism is a system in which the means of production and important public services are in the hands of the collective (the state for all practical purposes), I cannot see for the life of me how a sport can be socialist. What I do see, however, is a distinction between a democratic sport and a dictatorial one.

Soccer, I'm happy to say, belongs squarely into the democratic camp: Players must make their own decisions on the field, while the coaches are mostly reduced to helpless gestures on the sideline. The sport is at its most beautiful when the decisions made spontaneously by the individual players are in perfect sync and produce a continuously and unexpectedly changing flow of the game.

Not so in American Football and baseball: Apparently, the rugged individualists playing the game cannot be trusted and allowed to decide on their own what to do next--everything has to come from the coaches. I call this dictatorial...

Ulrich said...

Another point: Soccer and ice hockey are very similar sports--if you abstract from the obvious differences (form of object to be put into goal, means of putting it there, nature of field, team size, among others), you end up with he same game as far as flow and strategies go. In other words, if soccer is socialist, so is ice hockey--why doesn't anyone make that point?

Because, I think, the socialism issue is a red herring used to disguise why some Americans hate soccer. Hertzberg quotes someone saying that he hates soccer because it is not American, and that, to me, is the most plausible explanation I've seen so far for the phenomenon.

Lest I'll be misunderstood: I am well aware of the steadily increasing popularity of soccer in the US (one of my wife's nephews, once removed, a gifted athlete, had the choice in high school among baseball, Am. football, and soccer and selected soccer after all). But one of soccer's charms, to me, is precisely that its ever-growing popularity drives the right-wingers here nuts!

Ashley Cooper said...

thts quite right that football is one of famous game of the world and has millions of fans at a time .majority of fans like to watch live soccer in the field and we see the full stadiums in every soccer game.thats right also soccer is game of all 11 players playing.its not game of one man show or like that.