The FIFA World Cup Final takes center stage around the world on Sunday – finally. Now, I love the World Cup. At least I want to. Really. I dig “the beautiful game” when countries are playing. I’ll wake up in the early morning and watch any country – even North Korea – square off against another. I’ll activate my vuvuzela app on my iPhone and root for the team with the coolest jerseys (I favor ones with vertical stripes and little collars).
As much as I love the World Cup though, I have to say – I hate soccer. Again, I want to like it. After all, how can 7 billion people around the globe wrong about something?
Well, after many hours of dutiful research, I’ve come to the conclusion that they are wrong about soccer. Dead wrong.
Every four years, the talk across the United States is that this will be the year, finally, that the United States becomes a soccer country. Nope. It will never happen, for there are four simple reasons why America culture will always reject soccer.
Reason #1: Play acting. For the love of God, the amount of acting in a soccer match makes it more theater than athletic contest. As if that’s not bad enough, we’re stuck with the fact the acting is horrible; so bad that it makes the acting in pornos look good. Players are addicted to the play acting. Get touched, or even close to being touched? Stop moving your feet, throw your arms up in the air, and fall down, as if shot by a sniper. Get hit in the leg? Fall down, grab your face, and feign mortal injury by re-enacting the death scene from Othello. Miss the goal by a mere 10 meters as your shot goes twenty rows into the stands? Turn to the cameras, raise your hands to heavens, and prepare for your super slow motion spot on TVs around the world.
Ugh. I thought Charlton Heston was the master of overacting and “chewing the scenery.” Turns out every prima donna in a No. 10 jersey has him beat.
Reason #2: The stretcher. Really, it’s part of the play acting, but is so egregious it deserves its own callout. When you see a stretcher carried out on the field during an American football game, or a hockey rink, or any other sport around the world for that matter, you can rest assured bad, bad things are going on down there. Soccer? Not so much.
99% of the players carried off on a stretcher return to action in minutes. Apparently soccer trainers and doctors have invented a miracle healer that they have carefully hidden in water bottles. A quick spray over the affected area – typically either the head or one of the legs – and the player is up off the stretcher and signaling the referee that he wants to return to the pitch.
C’mon. Really? Are you serious? Either you’re faking it and acting – again, more poorly than a porn star - or your doctor is hiding a miracle cure from the entire world, which means you’re all complete douches. Take your pick – neither is good.
In America, we love heroes, particularly those who stand tall and proud, and persevere through all obstacles, including a little cleat mark. You know, John Wayne and all. As long as soccer players keep acting like pussies, our collective sporting attention will continue to be drawn to the NFL and other – yes, I’m about to say it – real sports.
Reason #3: Playing referee during the game. The typical soccer player spends more time during a match with his hand in the air trying to capture the referee’s attention than a rented mule tends to licking his wounds. How many times have you seen a player during this World Cup get caught out of position because he’s trying to sell a foul or an offsides call to the referee rather than playing full tilt?
Dudes, enough already. Just shut the f up and play.
Sure, this World Cup has been plagued by some high-profile, poor officiating. Who cares? That’s sports. Players are supposed to play. In American sports, we love the players and teams who out perform the other. If they’re getting screwed by the officials, that’s even better. There’s more honor in overcoming and persevering than there is in whining and having a dude in a striped shirt be the deciding factor. Bring the honor back to soccer (see play acting, above), and maybe we care a little bit more.
Reason #4: Playing not to lose. What? Play for a tie? Absolutely, positively, undeniably un-American! The old saying “a tie is like kissing your sister” is an old saying for a reason – it’s based in truth. Ties suck and no one wants to see them. As much as Landon Donovan and his mates on the US team mustered up a bite-sized bit of enthusiasm for soccer this last month, snooze fests like Brazil and Portugal’s nil-nil draw brought it back twice as far. One step forward, two steps back.
Everyone likes a winner. Many even love the “lovable loser.” Nobody likes a neutralized, neutered “tie-er.” Our American sporting legends are either time-honored champions or equally as time-honored warriors who “went out swinging” or “carried out on their shields.” There’s honor and glory in both winning and losing. In between, nothing but regret – for playing, for watching, for everything.
So, there you have it. It’s all so easy when you conduct scientific research and break it down to the facts – four reasons American culture will forever reject soccer.
Change the game with some minor adjustments, and the tune might be sung differently. Until then, I’ll watch the final on Sunday and forget about soccer for another four years. It’s not like I’ll be missing a boat load of action. In those four years, there’ll probably be only 12 to 14 goals scored.
At least that’s this guy’s opinion.
Tweet your soccer hatred @RayHartjen