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Don't Take The Soccer Hate Bait, Let the Game Speak For Itself

It's the World Cup. Games dominate the ESPN and (somewhat) ABC airwaves. And for some, that's just outrageous--and thus it brings out the soccer haters. Here's what one soccer fan has to say about it all (hint: don't take their bait).

Someone forgot to tell this guy how "un-American" he is.
Someone forgot to tell this guy how "un-American" he is.
Warren Little

In the midst of a fantastic World Cup come all the haters and naysayers of soccer. They come out about every four years or so, rear their ugly head about the 'beautiful game,' lamenting all the while of all the soccer dominating the ESPN landscape.

Poor things.  Must be awful to put up with a sport the entire world loves a few weeks every four years.

Yet, Ann Coulter (Ann Coulter?) wrote a diatribe on the problem with soccer, showing admirable restraint (sarcasm intended) by holding off "for a decade" in writing about soccer.  Whether this article was a hyperbolic farce intended for shock value and hits to her site, who knows (this, coming from someone who linked to her article that will generate even more hits--so, you're welcome, Ann).

But it's all over, isn't it?  The USMNT advanced.  But what did I hear all over talk radio here in Denver?  "Man, I just can't get past celebrating when you lose.  It's American to only celebrate a win."

Nothing came up in the conversation about how we qualified for the World Cup.

Nothing came up about us beating Ghana and then tying a Top 5 ranked team that we outplayed for 93 1/2 minutes.

And nothing came up about holding a Top 3 German team to one goal.

Sure, we needed Portugal to help, but hey, the USMNT earned their spot. They advanced. It may not be your way, but be proud of our boys.

I guess my question is, if you don't 'get it' (which I didn't really up until about 10 years ago), why lambaste those who do?  And in regards to Coulter's article among others, why does soccer seem to be such a threat to the American Way, whatever that is?

Beats me.

And I'm worn out trying to figure it out.  But here's where I'm at:

The last thing a soccer fan should do is get defensive about the sport they love. Let the sport speak for itself.

If you like it, great.  If you don't, at least make sure it's due to you actually watching a game or two or ten--and usually with someone else.  Permit me an example.

As a baseball fan (of my beloved Cincinnati Reds), I thought cricket was a poor form of baseball.  I didn't get it.  It made no sense.  So, as any good American would, I would poo-poo the notion of cricket because, well, I just didn't get it.  And since the US's cricket team isn't that robust, why bother?

But when I went to Trinidad & Tobago to do some work with my pastor friend, Roddie Taylor, the Caribbean T-20s were on.  Since I was Roddie's guest (and he raved about cricket), I sat and watched about a three-hour match with him.  I asked questions, I saw the pattern of the game, became acquainted with the rules--and now I love the game.  No one forced it on me; I put aside my American notion and realized that other games took place around the world that we didn't invent that can actually intrigue.

Cricket spoke for itself.  I made a choice.  Soccer speaks for itself.  Watch if you want. Change the channel if you want.  Fine.  But if we begin to fall into the conspiracy nonsense of some of these writers who fear we lose our identity as Americans if soccer begins to take hold, we miss out.  Badly.  I grew up hearing this ugly mindset about this beautiful game, and almost missed out.

I'm not a prophet, but here's what I see:
  • The USA is becoming a mainstay at the World Cup, and their advancing out of the proverbial Group of Death goes a long way to increase the intrigue.
  • With less and less parents allowing their children to play football due to the severity of the injuries incurred, soccer will benefit greatly.
  • Soccer will increase more and more if the US teams don't dive like other countries.  If we do it right, then that will gain us more respect.
  • When the MLS fails to be seen as a league to prep folks for Europe, or as a rest-home for aging European stars, that will benefit the perspective of American soccer.
How do you respond to soccer haters?  Do you roll your eyes and dismiss them?  Engage them in a friendly conversation?  Unfriend them on Facebook or Twitter?

In closing, I was in the South Stands at DSGP seeing the Rapids play well against Vancouver.  Feels sweet being in 2nd place in the West.  See you all July 4th against Columbus!