A lot of people may not know this about me, but I’m a huge sports fan. Basketball, football, the Olympics-you name it, I’m watching it. However, despite my love for sports, I’ve never really payed much attention to soccer, and I don’t exactly know why. Maybe it’s because I’m American, and as far as I know, America doesn’t like soccer very much,especially not now.
Today I had the pleasure of coming home for an extended lunch, and as I ate, I decided to turn on one of my favorite sports shows, The Herd with Colin Cowherd on FS1. Colin, always the eccentric sports analyst, expressed his disdain over the US Men’s Soccer Team’s loss to Trinidad and Tobago, and he immediately got my attention. In my understanding, this match was a must win for Team USA in order for the team to qualify for the World Cup in 2018. Long story short, they lost, and people are not happy. It is the first time since 1986 that the US Men’s Soccer Team has not qualified for the World Cup. To many people, that is 30 years of progress down the drain.
Colin ripped our treatment of soccer in the US, saying that we don’t put enough emphasis on the development of players like we do for football, basketball, baseball,etc. Meanwhile, European countries turn their kids into soccer machines at a young age. The US is home to the best sports leagues in the world-except for soccer. Soccer is like the ugly step sister in America. We even watch golf more. Cowherd then pointed out that soccer is a “suburban” sport, as it is the sport that every little kid in the country plays at some point in their life. When Americans think of soccer, they think of “soccer moms” and orange slices at half time, rather than a legitimate sport. In my own experience ,many critics of soccer have called it a “sissy” sport, and that’s putting it nicely, but that is to be expected when football, a “macho” sport replete with bravado and brain damage reigns supreme in the USA.
Americans already didn’t respect soccer, so they definitely won’t now. I’m sure our country would appreciate the sport more if the team was dominant, but since they aren’t, forget about it.
What are my thoughts? What do I think of soccer?
I had a soccer career a long time ago. It lasted a whopping three months.
I was one of the many kids in America that plays soccer at least once in their life time. When my family lived in England, my brothers and I played a lot of youth sports through the Air Force base, and when I was seven, my mom thought it would be a good idea to sign my brother and I up for soccer. Always, the natural athlete, my brother was really good. He had all the makings of a good soccer player-quickness, speed, agility-all of it. While my brother was the star of his team, I was the type of player that would get a “Most Improved” trophy at the end of the season. Soccer requires a lot of coordination, something that I lacked greatly at the time. I remember I had one break out game where I stole the ball from an opposing player. That was a happy day. By the conclusion of the season, I ended up getting “most improved,” and my coach never pronounced my name correctly, but I had a lot of fun. I really did. I don’t know why I never revisited the sport.
One of my best friends plays soccer and so do several of my peers, so I respect soccer as a sport and I respect the athletes that play it. Although I do get bored watching it, I don’t think I’ll ever discredit it. After all, it isn’t an easy sport. I couldn’t even play it at the youth level.
I mentioned earlier that my family lived in England. While we were there, we got to experience first hand the prominence of soccer in Europe. It is huge there. During the World Cup in, I think 2006 (We were in England from 2005-2008), I remember laying in my bed trying to go to sleep only to hear my neighbors screaming loudly in celebration or frustration over what transpired with their soccer, or I guess I should say, football team. In America, we have basketball courts everywhere. In England, they had cement soccer courts where kids would play and get into brawls all day long.
I remember one time being up at one of these courts with my brothers and our American friends that also lived in the neighborhood. Our British peers were really getting into their little match. There was a bunch of elbowing and foul language. One kid got pushed to the ground, and his entire leg was scraped up and bloody. It looked like he needed stitches. Some cops happened to be driving around the neighborhood, and they stopped to see what was going on. They got the kid all cleaned up and then they took him home. It was quite the experience to witness.
My stepmom is Colombian, and her family is crazy about soccer. In summer of 2016 ,I took a trip to Florida where her family lives. The Copa America was going, and you’d think it was the Super Bowl. I think Colombia made it to the quarter finals before they were eliminated from the tournament. I was mostly indifferent, but her family screamed and hollered at the TV just like Americans do when football is on. It was really interesting to see the cultural differences.
It got me thinking. The entire world adores soccer except for the US. I’m very perplexed by this. I’m going to get superficial here, but if you go to Leo Messi’s Instagram page or Cristiano Ronaldo’s page (two of the best soccer players in the world), you will find that they have exponentially larger followings than a LeBron James or Tom Brady. This is simply because soccer is such a globalized sport. For some countries around the world, it is their pride and joy. It unites entire nations. Meanwhile, our sports leagues are dividing this nation, but that’s a whole other story…What does our disdain for soccer say about us? Do we have to be so different from the rest of the world? Is it some weird form of American exceptionalism? I mean the rest of the world has the metric system, and we use inches, Fahrenheit, and feet. Our dates are structured as 10/11/17 and theirs are structured 11/10/17. We always say that the world is backwards but maybe we are backwards. I’m all for standing out. America does a lot of things well, exceptionally even, but I do think we can be on our high horse too much. Rather than dismissing soccer as “gay,” maybe we should try to develop our soccer players better, so that we can be dominant in yet another sport on the world stage. I’m no soccer aficionado or a soccer expert by any means, but I do think our team would perform better if they had their country’s respect. How funny is that? Americans get mad when a team they don’t even support loses. I am rolling on the floor laughing.
I’ve always thought that sometimes you have to lose before you can win. Maybe the soccer team’s loss could act as a starting point for reconstruction of the program in the United States. It’s possible that USA soccer could be just as dominant as USA Basketball or the New England Patriots in the NFL, but only time will tell. Perhaps right now could be a starting point for the US to start appreciating soccer, but after such an ugly loss, that may be a lost cause. Here’s to 30 more years of growth.
Couturely Sound ❤
Link to Cowherd’s segment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwepDm2mYS8