Dear World…

Among the myriad readers of John S’s critique of soccer (and to a lesser extent Tim’s) was good old America, who was upset it was brought into the fold so often during the rebuttals in the comments. So America decided to defend itself, in short, epistolary form.

Dear World,

We call it soccer. Deal with it.

Love,

America

***

Dear World,

I mean, it’s not like we all took a vote to screw your nomenclature. Most of us weren’t even alive when all this went down. But we’ve been calling it soccer for a while now. We don’t really understand why it irks you so. Midwesterners call soda “pop,” but you don’t hear us complaining.

Your Pal,

America

***

Dear World,

Yeah, we know. Soccer has more to do with your foot. Rounders was played on a diamond. And we drive on parkways and park in driveways!!! I mean, what’s the deal with THAT?

Your Friend,

America

***

Dear World,

Look, I guess it all comes back to the name thing, but most of us don’t have this Manichean Soccer vs. Football conflict in our lives. They’re not even in the same season here! Like, the reason we’re not watching the World Cup isn’t because we’re focused on off-season NFL workouts. We just have better things to do. Like, you know, anything.

Blogging counts as anything,

America

***

Dear World,

We heard soccer was the most popular sport around. And every time we go to McDonald’s, it’s pretty crowded. Let me tell you, it doesn’t relieve the guilt.

Obesily yours,

America

***

Dear World,

Now imagine this: There’s one country where everyone watches one sport, and they all think it’s great. And then there’s another country where everyone watches a bunch of sports, and they kind of pick and choose which ones they like the best. Certainly seems like Country B is being more skeptical when it comes to what’s great and what isn’t.

You feel me?

America

***

Dear World,

What you’ve been saying about uniting behind a cause sounds all good and dandy, but have you been to America? Do you know how big this place is or how different the people who live here are? If you’ve been to New York, have you been to the South? Differences a bit bigger than Barca v. Real Madrid, no? Yeah, maybe then you’d know why “United” is kind of a misnomer.

We’ve included a to-scale globe and Ken Burns’ documentary on the Civil War,

America

***

Dear World,

We can handle low-scoring sports, you know. We like baseball, for God’s sake. Have you watched baseball? Man, that game is slow and low-scoring at times. But you know what, it’s at its best when it’s low-scoring. Like this one time, when the last game of the season was 1-0 in extra innings? We love that game! And this other time, four years later, when it happened again? We love that game, too! And this third time, when it happened a season later in the penultimate game? These are like three of the GREATEST GAMES OF ALL-TIME! And then there was this college basketball championship game that was really low-scoring and a defensive battle and the winning team didn’t even make a basket in like the final few minutes, and then we went an anointed that one of the greatest games ever, too. And the same with that low-scoring Super Bowl a few years back.

We’ll call your Generalizations and raise you with Research,

America

***

Dear World,

Wait, we’re the action junkies? Not all of us liked Transformers 2. In fact, we don’t think any of us did. And next time you want to call your sport civilized, ask yourself why there’s a moat around your field.

We fight in the parking lot,

America

***

Dear World,

You know what else is cool? Playoffs.

You should try it some time,

America

***

Dear World,

We cool, right?

America

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by John S on June 17, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    Comparing soccer to low-scoring baseball games and Super Bowls is disingenuous. You’re talking about low-scoring GAMES, not low-scoring SPORTS. Those games stand out as some of the greatest of all-time because the low scores are attributable to good defensive/pitching efforts. In soccer, though, a 1-0 score does not necessarily reflect good defense, because it’s actually the statistical average. If every baseball game ended 1-0 or 2-0, then the concept of a “pitchers duel” would be meaningless, just as holding the Patriots to 14 points was impressive mainly because of the sheer volume of points the team had usually scored.

    Reply

  2. Posted by nixonradio on June 18, 2010 at 7:19 AM

    “We’ll call your Generalizations and raise you with Research”, you say.

    We’ll see you.

    – I don’t personally care that Americans call football soccer, because they’ve got their own beautiful sport already called football that’s much more popular in the USA, and I’ve no idea why it irks people either, but it’s not even an American thing – it’s a British word through and through.

    – The thing about “another country where everyone watches a bunch of sports” is massively disingenuous. It presupposes that Americans have several sports to choose from, whereas all soccer-mad countries only care for soccer. This obviously isn’t true. In Britain, rugby (of 2 distinct kinds) and cricket are “major league” sports. In France, rugby and (especially) cycling draw millions of people. In Spain, they love them some basketball. Baseball has highly professional leagues in soccer-mad Mexico, Venezuela, the Caribbean, Japan; rugby and basketball are massive in South America; cricket holds sway over Australia and South Africa. To somehow imply that Americans are more discerning because they disdain soccer is not only misleading, it’s completely wrong.

    – The “differences within America” thing is a prime example of how Americans get on other people’s nerves even without realising it.

    “Do you know how big this place is or how different the people who live here are? If you’ve been to New York, have you been to the South? Differences a bit bigger than Barca v. Real Madrid, no?”

    What a terrible, terrible example to pick. No, is the answer. No, those differences aren’t “a bit bigger”. Do you know why Barcelona v Real Madrid is such a big deal, why people refer to Barcelona as “more than a club”? Do you know anything about the Catalan people and their suffering under Franco? Have you heard of the Spanish Civil War? It was quite popular in the 1930s, millions dead, Guernica and all that. Of all the poorly-researched arguments raised here, this is by some distance the worst. And the offer to include a “to scale globe”, in an offer from America to the entire world… I’m going to be generous and assume it wasn’t meant to come across as insultingly condescending as that, right?

    – Playoffs? (I just hope we can win a game. No, wait.) Tell it to the geniuses who run NCAA football, maybe. Meanwhile, some other non-US sports do have playoffs to decide their championships (rugby league’s Super League springs to mind); lots of soccer leagues have promotion/relegation playoffs, but mostly they’re not needed because pretty much every soccer nation (including the USA) also have knockout-format cup competitions running alongside the league. And let’s not forget the World Cup is itself a giant set of playoffs.

    Dear America,

    Yeah, we cool, but you need to get out a bit more.

    – The World

    Reply

    • Posted by nixonradio on June 18, 2010 at 7:32 AM

      A bit more Barca v Real Madrid context.

      http://spanish-history.suite101.com/article.cfm/soccer_and_the_spanish_civil_war

      Barcelona was the epicenter of the republican resistance against the Fascist Nationalists.

      Consequently, as a focal point for the population of Barcelona, the city’s football club, FC Barcelona, was soon drawn into the conflict .A month after the Civil War began, FC Barcelona’s left-wing president Josep Suñol i Garriga was murdered by Francisco Franco’s soldiers in Guadalajara.

      On 16 March 1938, the fascists dropped a bomb on the club’s social club. A few months later, Barcelona was under fascist occupation and as a symbol of the ‘undisciplined’ Catalanism, the club, now down to just 3,486 members, was threatened with extinction.

      After the War, Franco banned the Catalan language and flag. Football clubs were prohibited from using non-Spanish names. These measures led to the club having its name changed to Club de Fútbol Barcelona (from FC Barcelona to CF Barcelona). The Catalan flag was removed from the club’s shield. During Franco’s reign one of the few places that Catalan could be spoken freely was within the club’s stadium.

      I’m just not really convinced that you get the same thing when the Falcons are playing the Patriots.

      Reply

      • Dear World,

        Man, they must have totally cut that part out of “Pan’s Labyrinth.” To extend the analogy, we respectfully fold on that hand.

        And we would love to get out more, but have you SEEN the exchange rate these days? A dollar don’t buy quite what it used to (although we’re on the way back),

        America

        Reply

  3. Posted by Douglas on June 18, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    nixonradio:

    i definitely agree with your point about barca and real madrid…although it’s worth noting that in the U.S., especially historically, there have been incredibly powerful subtexts to many games that reflect the characteristic differences of U.S. cities/regions (think Jackie Robinson, the first all black college basketball team, etc). but no, probably not anything as extreme as in barcelona.

    as for the variety of sports, i think tim oversimplifies it but he’s still probably right. with the exception of rugby and cricket, Americans follow every other sport you mentioned (and rugby is very popular at many universities–it’s just played rather than watched). again, this isn’t to say that fans in other countries don’t have variety, but your average american fan is probably versed in more sports.

    Reply

    • Posted by nixonradio on June 18, 2010 at 12:49 PM

      I know there are plenty of US games with big, complex histories to them and I’m not denying it, it just seemed a particularly odd generalisation to assume that nowhere else in the world can match them – and then, of all the examples to pull out of one’s ass by way of contrast, to pick El Clásico… D’oh.

      Now, with regard to “variety of sports”… I know most of the sports I listed are American, I was trying to illustrate that the original argument –

      There’s one country where everyone watches one sport, and they all think it’s great. And then there’s another country where everyone watches a bunch of sports, and they kind of pick and choose which ones they like the best. Certainly seems like Country B is being more skeptical when it comes to what’s great and what isn’t. You feel me?

      – was moronic. I just don’t agree at all with this “variety of sports” bit, it’s a complete non-starter. I watch SportsCenter and I see football, basketball, baseball, hockey, then a bit of NASCAR, then maybe a bit of golf or tennis on a quiet day. I watch Sky Sports News and I see soccer, rugby union, soccer, cricket, soccer, rugby league, boxing, soccer, snooker, darts (don’t laugh – these last two are, bizarrely, major spectator sports over here), soccer, cycling, golf, soccer, track and field. I read L’Equipe (a mega-selling French multi-sports magazine which was founded around the same time as The Sporting News and has a similar historical relationship to cycling as TSN to baseball) and I see a huge spread of different sports every day. Soccer is most popular in the UK and France as a whole, but there are plenty of people who hate it; in Wales and parts of Yorkshire and Lancashire, for instance, or the south of France, rugby is *far* more popular. I think saying “America has four self-proclaimed major league sports, therefore Americans have more choice and are more savvy when it comes to sports” is just an insular and uninformed way of looking at it.

      Discerning sports fans are to be found the world over; if someone doesn’t like a sport, chances are it’s because they’ve never had a chance to watch it properly – as quite a few people admitted in the replies to the first soccer post here – some Americans have never actually watched soccer, good soccer, and this largely-unimpressive World Cup is not a good way to begin; similarly, some Europeans have never watched baseball. But 90,000 people turn up to watch NFL games in London, and I’ll bet there are more soccer fans than that in the US (indeed more US fans pro rata have bought tickets for the World Cup, this World Cup, the one taking place thousands of miles away in South Africa, than fans from any other country).

      Reply

  4. […] at NPI, we’ve pretty much proven beyond a reasonable doubt that we’re not exactly your go-to source for soccer information. That said, when it comes time for the World Cup Consolation Match between Germany and Uruguay this […]

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