Of course The Machine’s going to teabag the World Cup. We’re Americans, which means, besides being awesome all the time, we hate soccer. We have to. It’s in our blood. By age 14, every American is programmed to hate soccer. The losers people who slip through either (a) got cut from the football team, or (b) are part French.
The real question is why do we hate soccer? Soccer is the world’s most popular sport…literally, the entire world loves soccer except us. The players are god-like, and are known in every living room from Argentina to Zimbabwe…yet Lionel Messi could walk anywhere in the U.S. and we’d say, “who’s the weird Mexican-looking dude in Umbros?” Rounding out their rock star image, are their rock-star quality WAGs.
Even more puzzling…every kid in America grows up playing soccer. It’s the first team sport we play, before baseball and football. So why, then, if we start out playing and loving soccer, and if soccer players are international superstars, do we look down on it for the rest of our lives? Well, here’s why:
We loved soccer when we were 6 for the same reason we ate Play-dough and boogers: we didn’t know any better. It was fun to run around and kick shit…but when we got older and sat down to watch a game, holy shit is this sport lame.
It’s 90 minutes long (plus stoppage time) and you’re lucky to see two goals. Two!!! A 2-1 game is considered a high scoring affair. Sorry, but our fickle American minds need action. We need three-pointers, home runs, and deep post routes…not quick bursts of action followed by extremely long periods of inactivity. Sounds like Roid Rage’s sex life (boom!).
Case in point: In the US/Ghana game on Monday, the US scored in the first minute of the game. Ok, there’s some instant action. Maybe we were wrong. Maybe it is exciting to watch. Eighty-one minutes later, the next goal was scored. Yes, more than one hour elapsed until the next goal was scored. Sorry, but that’s a lot of time of playing keep away.
You can tie
Huh? Wait, you mean you can play an entire game and no one wins? Sorry, but this is ‘Murica…we don’t play for participation trophies. We play to win. Ending a game in a 0-0 tie does not compute.
We’re not good
When’s the last time the US Men’s team won the World Cup? Never. The closest they got was third place (in 1930). Shit, we didn’t even qualify for the World Cup for a remarkable 32 consecutive years (from 1954-1986). What about Olympic medals? None. Wait, not even a fucking bronze???
Simply put, we’re not good at it (at least the Men), the rest of the world is far superior, and we are seen as the laughing-stock. So, instead of hunkering down and showing that American Rocky IV-esque resolve to do better and beat the Russians…we’ll just take our ball and go home. Instead, we’ll call our sport football (and spell it totally different) and we’ll give our trophies World names, like the World Series and World Champions (a/k/a Super Bowl Champions). See, we are the best in the world (at sports we don’t let the rest of the world play).
US Women are better than the Men [put your chauvinist hat on]
The US Women’s soccer team is not just better than the Men’s, but they’re a lot better. The US Women have consistently dominated the sport, winning the World Cup in ’99, and winning the Gold Medal in 4 of the past 5 Olympics. Everybody knows names like Mia Hamm, Brandie Chastain, Hope Solo, and Amy Wambach…try naming 4 people on the men’s team.
So is that really a reason American don’t embrace soccer? Maybe…the most popular sports in America are NASCAR, which has one (1) female participant, and football, which—unless you count sideline reporters—has none. Our male-dominated, Type A, beer chugging society simply won’t accept a sport where the women are better than the men. It’s why tennis suffers here too.
No commercials [put your corporate conspiracy theory hat on]
Hear us out here for a minute. The Machine thinks a big reason—perhaps the biggest reason—we as a society are turned off to soccer is because we’ve been programmed by corporate America to dislike it. Soccer is not a made for TV sport. It’s two 45 minutes halves of running time. No timeouts, no mandatory commercial breaks for a word from our sponsors. Yes, the lack of TV appeal has killed soccer, and will prevent it from ever becoming popular here.
Why do you think, in a college basketball game, which is only two 20 minute halves, each team has 5 timeouts, plus there are mandatory timeouts every four minutes, adding another 4 TOs per half. That’s a total of 14 timeouts. What about football. Touchdown (commercial break), kickoff (commercial break)…there are plenty of opportunities for Budweiser and Ford to hack their (not made in the USA) products. Baseball’s the same way. Not so in soccer.
In soccer, sponsors are relegated to populating billboards around the field, and putting stickers on the glass thing on the sidelines. Sorry, but doesn’t fly in the corporate boardroom. They want ad time and commercials in primetime…not stickers. Because of the lack of TV appeal, corporate America hasn’t fully embraced it (think oil companies funding alternative energy development) and therefore they won’t let us like it.
What does that say about our society that we are controlled and manipulated by corporations and their whorish need to advertise? Not much, but it’s true. Don’t believe us? Think for a minute why your kid wants (no, NEEDS!) to go to Disney, when they would get just as much satisfaction from the county fair. And think for a minute why you NEED to take them there.
Despite all these reasons, why then, does The Machine have a strange sense of pride, patriotism, and sudden interest in the World Cup? After watching the men beat Ghana last night, The Machine is now all about Team America. We’ve hung our (not made in the USA) American flag outside our house, ate an enormous amount of bacon, and taught our children the real American anthem:
How long will this interest last? As long as Johnson & Johnson and the Ford Motor Company let it. As soon as (read: when) the US Men’s team is bounced from the World Cup, we’ll go right back to apathy and TV timeouts. Until then, we’ll feign acceptance and display an uncomfortable amount of patriotism. USA! USA!
Enjoy your teabag.