Regardless of the outcome of this article, I’ll have to admit with the deepest sense of sincerity that I simply don’t like soccer.
Athletically speaking, soccer players are some of the most gifted people on the planet. How they keep their energy up for two 45-minute halves, sprinting up and down the pitch, chipping, jumping, passing, kicking, heading, and slide-tackling is so far beyond my ability to comprehend.
With the United States’ recent success in the World Cup, however, I find myself eerily drawn to the page of the same name over on ESPN’s website. But why? What is making this die-hard anti-soccer attitude become a sort of pro-soccer guilty pleasure? And why won’t I admit to any of my friends that I’m secretly swiping glances and praying for the England to advance? Call it pride of you will.
Or call it a surging sense of patriotism. I’m the same person who at the start of the Olympics finds it completely disinteresting — but by the end of it is ready and willing to talk about how the United States dominated the medal count. It feels all-too-convenient, and to be honest, it is.
I’m a convenient fan. A fairweather fan. And this is for my home country! The disappointing fact of the matter is that I show more loyalty to the Atlanta Braves than I do to any United States team. What’s wrong with me? Why am I so backwards?
It could very well be that I find it difficult to understand the sport of soccer. My sports interests lie in baseball, hockey, and football — sports with moderates amount of contact and a whole heap of rules. But soccer? Soccer seems too simplistic.
The same argument could be applied to NASCAR. Or golf. Folks who claim that NASCAR isn’t a sport because it’s overweight men driving a car really fast and turning left, when in actuality those drivers are extremely well-conditioned and, for the most part, brilliant (yes, I said it) at what they do.
But soccer players? Maybe it’s the intentional dives. The selling. The “Oh my gosh I’ve broken my back!” routine that I see all-too-often when watching a match. How many times must I put up with a guy getting tripped and then grabbing at his shin as if it’s been shattered? About a dozen times per 90 minutes, apparently.
This is why it’s all so amusing to me when I watch the USA and their last-minute heroics. When I get just as angry over that horrible call by Koman Coulibaly as I do over the equally bad call by Jim Joyce during Armando Galarraga’s perfect game, I feel a twinge of regret. Maybe there’s more to this game that I’m simply missing.
Maybe, if I sit down and really watch. If I can push myself to ignore the constant and aggravating buzz of 80,000 vuvuzelas, maybe I can learn to enjoy this game.
Unfortunately, no. I’ll forget about it a week after the World Cup is over.
Unless you can convince me otherwise, that is.