So I get this email from The Grand Wizard of Websites (TGWoW) reminding me that, to stay certified, I HAVE TO write a column about “soccer”. I reminded TGWoW that I had discussed “soccer” several weeks ago. TGWoW said “That’s not enough. You have to do a definitive essay on “soccer” that can be included in the Grand Archives of All Essays About Soccer circa 2014.”
I said fine, thinking it might be nice to write a column that does not mention Wainstein, “Dickie”, Little Carol, and “how many ABCers does it take to tear down a rafter?” So, here goes…..
My overriding premise is that, like Caesar’s Gaul, attitudes about soccer are divided into three parts. “Soccer est partes tres” as the Romans would say. BTW, I learned that taking Latin from Virgil Crissafulli at UNC in 1966 as a General College language requirement. I don’t know how to say it in Portuguese or in Swahili. Maybe Rashad does. I digress.
92% of America is obsessed with soccer right now. The remaining 8% are divided between “offended by Redskins” or “planning to firebomb their local Hobby Lobby”.
BTW: Those of you who get Blondie’s emails should know that I came up with the zinger that “Dan Snyder has agreed to drop the Redskins’ name IF he can rename his football team the Hobby Lobbys thinking that would REALLY piss off the soooo easily offended among us”. ……. Personally, I think it would be cool if Dan Cathey opens up a Chick-fil-A kiosk inside every Hobby Lobby. OK, no more Hobby Lobby jokes.
Among that 92% soccer-centric there are three subgroups: (1) Soccer is The New Orange is The New Black…… (2) I Hate Soccer because _______ …… (3) Wow, that was exciting, now what’s for dinner? I’m in that 3rd subgroup.
I have absolutely nothing negative to say about “soccer”. Nor do I have anything particularly negative to say about eating vegetables, free-range chickens, fracking, or whether Carrboro should allow any more “drive-in windows”. I DO have negatives about people who obsess about soccer and those other grand issues of the day.
Soccer looks GREAT on HDTV. The bright colors and spread-out nature of a game are about as pixel friendly as sports on TV can get. The day-glo uniforms and brightly colored shoes contribute to that. And all the goofy tribal costumes in the stands.
I see all those goofy ferriners cheering their teams and I think “OK, if they’re watching soccer they’re not bombing our embassies…. thats a good thing.”
Every definitive essay on soccer I am reading mentions Miracle On Ice in 1980 and Brandi Chastain in her sports bra in 1998. I recall both of those. If there had been HDTV flat screens and gianormous video boards back then, we could all have seen Mike Eruzione’s acne scars and if Brandi had any freckles on her scapula. We didn’t so we’ll never know.
Going back even further….. America’s first “soccer star” was Kyle Rote Jr (son of NY Giant teammate of Frank Gifford – Kyle Rote Sr.) in the mid-70s. Kyle Jr was handsome and had a cool name and was promoted as America’s Pele. A few years later America actually got “the real Pele” playing for the New York Cosmos of some alphabet league. Pele played a year or so with 2-3 other supposedly famous Euro-guys that even I have forgotten. A lot of immigrants in New York came to see the Cosmos first game, then progressively fewer saw the rest of their games until they all quietly went away to resurface 30 years later as David Beckham married to a Spice Girl.
Soccer in America had been referred to as “a sleeping giant” more often than Carolina Football. OUCH!
For going on 40 years now bazillions of little kids have played youth soccer in America. So many in fact that it led to the creation of the mini-van and the ubiquitous term “Soccer mom”. To all you baseball, football, basketball and UFC devotees, has your sport ever spurred the creation of a vehicle… or its own “moms”? I think not.
All those bazillions of soccer-playing kids grow up to be NFL and NBA fans and, the more erudite among them, baseball fans. I’m not sure where UFC fans come from nor do I want to know.
Yes, I watched most of the USA-Belgium game. I didn’t see the beginning when they do that “walk out with the little kids” thingy so I watched for fifteen minutes not sure which team was which. That was fine since it, as noted, looked so cool on my HDTV regardless.
Yes, it was exciting in the final minutes and that goal by the USA guy was amazing. I didn’t see all the INCREDIBLE SAVES by the USA goalie with the shaved head and beard but he seems like a very nice guy so I’m fine that he is THE NEWEST BIG THING in American Sports. Has he gotten his “offer to pose nude in Playgirl” yet? Is there still a Playgirl?
The other American major sports have accumulated enough tacky, boring, yuckiness about them that maybe America IS ready for a change. Human nature says that soccer as a major spectator sport would quickly accumulate all the yuckiness of the other major sports, but maybe for a year or so it might be nice. Is the Stanley Cup over yet?
I don’t understand any of the subtleties of soccer as far as strategy and rules and that really nutty way they keep time….. but I’m sure if I sat down and watched one game with Kyle Rote Jr and/or with Brandi, they could teach me all I need to know. In exchange I would teach them “the infield fly rule” and who the Gogolak Brothers were.
Soccer-hatin’ loonies’ primary complaint is “not enough scoring”. Easiest way to solve that is do what football does. Make each goal worth six points instead of one. Scores of 18-6 would seem more exciting than 3-1. Trust me, the average American sports fan would never figure that out.
Or do away with “offsides” which apparently is soccer’s version of “icing” or “the blue line” or whatever. Like I know anything about hockey.
The 2nd easiest way is to increase the size of the goal either vertically or horizontally by just a foot or two either way. The better players are so skilled that that would easily mean 3-4 more goals per game. It would also involve replacing every soccer goal in America and that would require A LOT of lumber and really piss off the eco-nutz. Imagine raising every basketball goal from 10’ to 12’ to cut down on dunks?
It is not up to “soccer” to change anything. Their current rules seem quite OK to all those fans dressed in funny costumes and not bombing our embassies and to that Teddy Roosevelt dude.
Maybe soccer in America WILL “take off” this time? Maybe politicians will stop being so political? Maybe McDonald will finally retire the McRib? History says it will take off for a few weeks….. then fizzle out until 3 years and eleven months from now when it will pop up again.
There is also the Rio Factor. If this World Cup was being played in Croatia or Qatar or some very un-sexy place that 98% of us can’t find on a map if our lives depended on it would all the soccer geeks be so obnoxious? No one ever wrote a song about “The Girl From Herzegovina”. There’s a reason why.
If ESPN wants to start a All Soccer 24/7 channel, I’m fine with that. As long as I can still find Roadhouse and Clear & Present Danger reruns out of 400 channels, I got no gripes. Hey, why not REPLACE that WNBA channel with a Soccer channel ??? 🙂
There. That oughta satisfy that Grand Wizard and his Archives.