Americans Shouldn’t Apologize for Not Watching Soccer

Alessandro Schopf (#18) and João Miranda (#3) during a FIFA Friendly Match between Austria and Brazil on June 10, 2018.

The World Cup is over, and at least for another now, it seems that we American sports fans just don’t care.

Oh sure, some of us do care, and for those that wanted to watch, it was hard to stay up all night to watch matches broadcast live from Russia. But we don’t care about it like we care about the Super Bowl or the World Series, or even “American Ninja Warrior”.

Sorry, Soccer. Not Sorry.

And ya know what? That’s OK. As Americans, we can embrace whatever sport we want. Our Founding Fathers put it all on the line so we’d have sports viewing independence and Freedom of Remote Control. With that freedom comes the responsibility to stand strong amidst an onslaught of international scorn. So let me make something clear: As an American, I will never, ever apologize for preferring certain sports over soccer! Even, nay, especially if those sports are uniquely American!

(Maybe I’m being over dramatic, but I guess I’m still fired up from the Fourth of July.)

You’re probably thinking to yourself, Who is this guy talking to, and why is he acting like he’s at a reenactment of the signing of the Declaration of Independence?

Let me explain. I’ve heard the hate for domestic sports often. I even heard it this weekend at a wedding. It’s always some variation of this: Soccer is the true global sport. It’s the “real” football. The US is the only nation in the world that doesn’t get all fired up about it, and for that, we should be ashamed.

Let the Rest of the World Remain Soccer-Crazy

Well I’m not ashamed. I realize soccer is growing in popularity here in the US, and some day it might reign supreme here as it does abroad.

I won’t fight that if it happens, and I won’t dismiss how much soccer means around the world. Even I, a true-blue American patriot, have sat up late at night in a foreign country while my hosts and their extended family watched the 2010 World Cup with the same reverence and intensity usually reserved solely for spiritual rites, such as the carving of the Thanksgiving turkey.

I’m aware that to bring the World Cup trophy home is equivalent to the fulfillment of some ancient prophecy of a national return to glory.

Since France beat Croatia 4-2 in the final Sunday, I’m certain that If you point your ear toward the Atlantic and listen closely, you can hear the distant roar of haughty laughter as Frenchmen gleefully twist their mustaches in triumph. (How do you celebrate a momentous win in a culture like that of France? By taking four hours for lunch instead of the customary three? Instead of climbing street light poles like Philadelphia Eagles fans, do the French raid the Louvre and use flash photography where expressly prohibited?)

France: Happy. FOX Sports: Sad.

While I don’t think we should beat ourselves up in the US for not embracing soccer like the rest of the world, we can still appreciate what it does mean to most every other nation. I’m happy for the French. Let them party like it’s 1945, and those silly English-speaking soldiers just rescued your country from Axis domination, securing your independence to wear tight black sweaters and silly hats.

The French party on, while here at home, FOX Sports and indignant soccer fans weep for another World Cup quietly come and gone. The US men’s team failed to qualify, falling to Trinidad & Tobogan. (My theory is that the tiny island nation has been plotting revenge ever since it witnessed Jerry, Elaine and Kramer ruin Tobogonian runner Jean-Paul’s New York City marathon attempts twice in “Seinfeld”. The US men’s soccer team was just the unfortunate recipient of their channeled anger.) The US didn’t qualify, and that didn’t help viewership.

FIFA laughed all the way to the bank as FOX Sports learned the hard way that here in America, we’re just not ready to commit to watching pro soccer.

We probably will, eventually. But if we don’t, it’s your duty as a red-blooded, free-born American sports fan to never cower to the ridicule of foreign powers.

We’re used to the rest of the world laughing at us; they’ve been doing so ever since we declared independence from the crown of England. If we’re stubborn, I think we’ve earned the right.

Since the World Cup is over, can we finally talk about real football?

This column was originally published July 19, 2018 in the Republic-Monitor.

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