"There's no male-superior knowledge factor in soccer."
This morning, Jennifer Hodge, on the Gather Editorial staff, raised the question: "Do you think David Beckham can kick start a greater interest in U.S. soccer?" The answer is no because soccer is a non-stop sport and that's anti-American right there.
Americans view soccer as a boring sport: when the last World Cup was played, three Americans flocked to their TV sets. The World Cup Games are viewed by Americans as taking up valuable ESPN air time that could be put to better use watching bowling reruns or slam bam wrestling matches. I find it amusing that Americans should consider soccer boring while baseball, possibly the biggest snooze ever invented, is our national pastime. Soccer is a non-stop, constant application of fast-paced athleticism. True, soccer's a low scoring game and in a materialistic society, score surpasses skill. But this is not the reason for its lack of popularity.
Soccer's non-stop quality is the real reason America shuns the sport. For the rest of the world non-stop means non-stop excitement; to Americans it means no time to go to the kitchen and fix a snack. Say in a baseball game the count is 1 and 2: you can get a fresh beer, erect a Dagwood sandwich, help Junior with his algebra and return to a count of 3 and 2.
The non-stop nature of soccer is further aggravated by the fact there are no ads! Gods created ads so men could go to the bathroom, read the Sunday paper and not miss so much as a foul tip. No advertising during a sporting event is, well, un-American.
Also, we were weaned on Sesame Street and have REALLY short attention spans. We get tired when we have to pay attention all the time. ("Watch out for that car! How many times have I told you to PAY ATTENTION?") Watching baseball, we can let our minds wander. Soccer isn't boring, it's tiring — to viewers as well as players. Baseball, now that's a couch potato sport. It's like a soap opera; you can nod off for six months and awaken to little change: A man is still on third and Dirk is still in rehab.
However, the biggest reason American men don't watch soccer is that they can't show off by explaining the fine points of the game to girls like they can with baseball or football. There's no male-superior knowledge factor in soccer. Kick the ball in the other guy's goal and you get one point; the team with the most points wins. Two year-old girls know that. The only tricky rule in soccer is offsides. But American men don't understand that rule. What's worse, girls who've played field hockey, DO understand offsides. All in all, there's too much embarrassment downside and no show-off upside for the American male to watch soccer.
The World Cup is soccer's premiere competition, held every four years to determine the planet's best team. In baseball, America has the World Series, but that's a half-truth. The World Series is really the United States Series, except for a couple of Canadian teams we off-shored for tax reasons.
American boys don't grow up bouncing balls on their heels all day long. While you and I were sprawled on the couch watching Scooby-Do reruns and nibbling our way through a box of Cracker Jacks, José and Pierre and Hans were playing a pickup game on the front dust.
The fact that the U.S. soccer team seems to have a lock on last place is touted as another reason we don't root for soccer. Not true. Americans don't back only winners. Generations of White Sox fans backed a losing cause for a century. The most enthusiastic soccer fans are the Italians where soccer games are considered battlefields—for the fans, not the players. There's a new Italian law: if a fan hits a player, or fans fight in the stands, the fans' team is penalized with an automatic 3-0 defeat. Italian fans have counteracted by dressing up in their rival's colors. Then a riot helps their team win.
Being a non-stop sport, with no ads, a clock that never stops even during penalties and the probability of looking stupid in front of a girl, it's not surprising American men are lost when it comes to the world's favorite pastime — and Pelé couldn't change that and neither can David Beckham.
Maybe American men should ask some soccer moms for directions. Yeah, that'll happen.