The United States cherishes sports, but not all of them. Although with what a major league player in football, baseball, and basketball can make for playing, these men dominate the media. Soccer players on the other hand, do not. What is it about the sport of soccer that is so different?
In USA Today, Marco R. della Cava claims that the “chief criticisms” of Americans about soccer are that it has a bad scoring system and that its boring. These complaints reflect ideas deeper in this countries’ psyche. Perhaps this is why there are only a handful of dedicated stores for soccer, such as ‘this is Amercian Soccer’.Here are 5 of the reasons these problems Americans have with soccer occur.
1) Points Come One at A Time In football, a touchdown is whole 7 points and other plays can lead to smaller amounts of points. In basketball, the amount you score depends on where you throw the ball from. In baseball, the amount of players that come across home to score can vary by play, depending on how many are on the bases. In soccer, however, one can only score one point with a goal. There are no extra points for scoring a goal from far away. This does not mean that the scoring system is bad or boring, just that the focus is not on getting a lot quickly. In this age of instant gratification, we hunger to see a lot right away, all at once. That is just not how soccer is done. This has been skewed into a “bad scoring system,” but really, there is nothing wrong with the way points are kept. It’s different, but not bad, nor does it make the game boring.
2) Domination of Other Sports Currently, America has saturated itself. Our country is continually preoccupied with the sports they currently follow, leaving little or no time to investigate new things. People don’t have time to do anything anymore, we aren’t reading the papers, let alone taking the time to understand a new sport and follow new teams. Americans will make time for sports, but only those that are a priority. Soccer is not a priority for the other 4 reasons I’ve explained here, but additionally because we are such a busy country. Couple our impatience with our business and the likelihood of taking on something new also increases.
3) Other Countries Excel Americans love to win. If we aren’t winning, we can fall into a trap of claiming boredom. The fact that other countries are better that us at this, is not going to challenge us to try and rise to their level, but we are going to focus on that which we are good at, things we can take pride in. It’s also logical to nurture that which we already see as going well, but especially at this time of economic crisis, investors are looking to continue to put their money in what has already been making them money and those that are looking to feel good by watching their favorite teams are going to continue to do so.
4) Requires Smaller Athletes Although basketball players also have to be very fit and run constantly, it is also beneficial to be unusually tall. In both baseball and football, power is needed and being a little bulky is all right, unless you play certain positions. Because the sports Americans favor demand feats a smaller athlete would struggle to do, soccer is not catching the eye of US sports fans. This is not to say that soccer lacks unusual feats, jut that these skills require endurance, flexibility, and dexterity. (I would say that martial arts is not as attractive to American for the same reason, although certainly other cultural barriers exist as well.)
5) No Individual Stars. The position of goalie is the only one that lends itself to being singled out to commercialize as a star player. Although all sports require a team to work together, soccer seems even more so than baseball, where you can hit a home run and football, with its star quarterbacks. Although I am sure that if America were to take to soccer, money makers would find a way to exploit it, the unusual feat, (number 4), aspect is more of an easy target.
Some soccer fans hold out hope for its popularity in the US, but I am much more skeptical. I am glad though it still seems to hold its own with kids in this country and I look forward to watching small town soccer games just as much as the world cup. I suppose in that way it can be considered an American past-time, just never in the professional arena.