If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: I do not get sports. I’m not good at them, don’t understand them, and the single time I caught a football, I ran it into the wrong end-zone. Fail. Hell, I don’t even know if you hyphenate “end-zone,” kids.
That being said, my semester abroad in England, during the last World Cup, made me seriously enjoy watching other people watch soccer. Still don’t understand what’s going on, BUT there has to be something redeeming about a sport that makes an entire pub, teary-eyed with copious amounts of cider, ale and beer, clutch shoulders and sing warbly cockney songs while occasionally cheering or flinging crisp packets at the community television set.
Which is why it’s sad to be on this side of the pond during the current World Cup. America, if you cannot embrace a sport beloved the world over (fucking literally, for once) that is like the Olympics but with more drinking and singing and vuvuzelas, then I do not know what to tell you except: America, you used to be cool, man.
But I’ve figured it out. I know why American is so snotty about the whole thing. It’s not that America just arbitrarily hates soccer…
It’s that we’re not good at it. And sweet Jiminy Cricket with Rickets, does America like to be good at shit.
Hear me out — I don’t mean we’re incapable of putting together maybe a decent national team (eventually), and I’m not saying there are not good American soccer players. I’m saying that overall, we’ve sunk all of our energy into football. This has not encouraged, either socially or financially, kids to be interested and engaged in soccer like they are in every other fucking place across the globe. As a result, we are not that good at soccer. It’s kind of like Math and Science in our schools — everyone is now handing us our ass. The problem is, the longer we suck at it, the longer we’re going to act like dicks about it. And the longer we act like dicks, the worse our soccer skills are going to get. It’s a vicious cycle, loyal readers.
Soccer looks fucking complicated. I mean, to me, ALL sports look complicated. But! You can’t tell me that it’s more complicated to run into someone headlong in huge padding and helmets (REPEATEDLY) than it is to develop the fancy footwork I’ve seen as pretty necessary for controlling a soccer ball. That shit takes finesse. Football? Not so much finesse as brute strength, head injuries and protective gear worthy of a bubble boy.
So instead of moping around, pissed that 1st-world countries devoid of basic bathroom facilities are kicking our asses, acting like our national past-time is as awesome (if football were that awesome, would we #1 have to have named it ‘football’ in a shady effort to borrow the glory of soccer’s original name? and #2 wouldn’t it have caught on in at least one other country by now?), let’s buck up and play nice with the rest of the globe, like forever. I don’t want to be stuck in the country that gets invited, every 4 years, to the most awesome goddamn block party on the planet and yet keeps forgetting to RSVP.
I want my beer. I want my singing. I want my fellow Americans to band together, learn something new, put the Revolutionary War behind us, and try being engaged for a change. Isolation sucks, guys. That’s why we’re told never to drink alone.
* Pictures all courtesy of the hilarious “Up Next in Sports” site.