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Old Fri Oct 10, 2008, 05:27pm
Dakota Dakota is offline
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"soccer is the sport of the future in America ... and always will be."

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Originally Posted by NCASAUmp View Post
Soccer?
Quote:
England invented soccer. France organized it. Brazil perfected it. And America ... ignores it.

Esquire columnist Chuck Klosterman, who once worked for the Akron Beacon Journal, has spent much of his life railing against soccer, a.k.a. the "sport of the future" in America.

He once wrote, "People continue to tell me that soccer will soon become part of the fabric of this country and that soccer will eventually be as popular as football, basketball, karate, pinball, smoking, glue sniffing, menstruation, animal cruelty, photocopying and everything else that fuels the eroticized, hyperkinetic zeitgeist of Americana."

After the U.S. team finished eighth in the 2002 World Cup, team forward Clint Mathis said, "If we can turn one more person who wasn't a soccer fan into a soccer fan, we've accomplished something."

"Apparently," Klosterman writes, "that's all that matters to these idiots. They won't be satisfied until we're all systematically brainwashed into thinking soccer is cool and that placing eighth (and losing to Poland!) is somehow noble."

He later writes that he'd be willing to die a painful public death, assuming his execution destroys the game of soccer "or, at the very least, convinces people to shut up about it."

Soccer is, of course, the No. 1 youth participation sport in the country about four million kids under 18 play in youth leagues and millions more play on their own but Klosterman argues those numbers are misleading.

"The truth is that most children don't love soccer," he writes. "They simply hate the alternatives more."

Simply put, he says, it's hard to be humiliated in soccer. (Unless you're a goalie.) You can't drop a fly ball, you can't airball a free throw and you can't get annihilated by that kid in your fourth grade class with a mustache.

"A normal 11-year-old can play an entire season without placing toe to sphere and nobody would even notice, assuming he or she does a proper job of running about and avoiding major collisions," Klosterman writes. "It's the only sport where you can't [screw] up."

It's also one of the few sports in America that kids play but don't watch. In 1994, soccer finished 67th after tractor-pulling in a pre-World Cup poll asking Americans to rank their favorite spectator sport. Those numbers are undoubtedly higher now "Much more popular than freeze tag," could be the official motto of Major League Soccer but for whatever reason, it just hasn't caught on as a spectator sport.

MLS has done better than any other American soccer league attendance at games hovers between 10,000 and 30,000 a game, depending on where it's played although half of the players on D.C. United (the model franchise in MLS) will make less than $36,500, which is less than Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez will make per at-bat this year.

The Women's United Soccer Association was created after America's thrilling victory in the Women's World Cup in 1998 I've actually asked Brandi Chastain about her infamous sports bra, which was pretty cool but, like most pro soccer leagues in America, it folded.

Sports Illustrated writer Frank Deford another soccer critic lumps soccer in with sports such as swimming or jogging. It's something people do, not something people watch.

"But soccer leagues always seem to burst forth, to tease us into thinking that this time America will succumb to the same boring, scoreless game that the rest of the world has always settled for," he once wrote. "Then even the soccer players go back to watching the NFL."

(Or, to use the oft-quoted phrase, "soccer is the sport of the future in America ... and always will be.")

For most of my life, the popularity of soccer seemed like a myth, like the Greek gods, George Washington and the cherry tree or Michael Bolton's record sales.

Hearing that soccer was the world's most popular sport was sort of like hearing that broccoli was the world's most popular food. You want to ask, "Have you tried pizza?"

Still, a few more Americans will undoubtedly become soccer fans this month. A few more will rail against it. And in the end, when NFL training camps open in July, everyone will go back to watching football. (The American kind.)

Until then, I hope the soccer-haters can leave the soccer-lovers alone, the soccer-lovers will quit trying to push their sport on the soccer-haters and that, in the end, the entire world will unite in the one sports activity we can all get behind:

Hating NASCAR.
--Joe Scalzo, a sportswriter for The Vindicator. (slightly edited)
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