We all deal with those who poo-poo the beautiful game. While everyone has their opinion, we also as soccer/fútbol aficionados have to do all we can to set people straight. I mean, if someone is going to turn up their nose at soccer, they should do so with intellectual honesty.
Below are the seven top objections and how I would respond to them.
- “The United States isn’t very good on the world stage at soccer.” While this is true (made apparent by our failure to qualify for the World Cup next year), this does not address the game itself. It addresses our desire to only follow a sport in which we dominate. Apples and oranges.
- “It’s not an American sport.” History credits England with inventing the sport, and taking that sport to the outer reaches of the former British Empire. But what’s more American than most every team of having nationals from all over the world up and down that roster. The plaque near the Statue of Liberty with the poem, The New Colossus, talks about “huddled masses,” with an understanding that “all are created equal.” Soccer may not have a majority of Americans dominating rosters and ruling the level of play, but soccer is the most American of sports when all countries can come together have play unified as a team.
- “The scores are too low.” For who? Baseball games are often 1-0 or 2-1, and are praised for being “pitcher’s duels.” In the NFL, the old adage of “defense wins championships” applies well in football, but doesn’t in soccer?
- “You can end a game in a tie.” This is the most un-American of all objections. We demand winners and losers. But life doesn’t always have a winner and a loser. In soccer, it’s about the long haul of the season, not just the one game itself. In fact, one game doth not a season make. Earning that non-loss one point in the standings could serve that team well.
- “The rules do not make sense.” Actually, of all the major sports, the rules of soccer are the most simple (only 17 laws in all). Have you ever tried to explain to baseball or football a non-American? Yes, these sports make perfect sense to us as Americans, but that does not mean they are simple. Honestly, understanding the offsides rule is the biggest obstacle to embracing the game (along with gratuitous flopping).
- “The clock doesn’t stop.” For me, this is life. None of our lives get a time-out where the ‘clock’ stops. If any of us are having a bad day, a rough time at home, medical problems, time marches on. Plus, we know that in soccer, the game lasts two hours and you’re done. No fifteen timeouts toward the end of a game where the clock says 30 seconds, but it’s 15 minutes in real time. In soccer, there’s no lying. Thirty seconds means 30 seconds.
- “It’s boring.” That’s a personal opinion, for sure. But when a 3+ hour game of American football has only 11 minutes of play, you realize that 90 minutes of soccer is 90 minutes of actual play. Not every game is exhilarating, but you will find skill, action, and intrigue. Plus, the supporters of each club distinguish soccer from other sports—they show that soccer doesn’t have to be boring. You need to take soccer on its own terms.
What other objections have you heard and how have you answered them?