Friday, June 26, 2009

Miracle on Grass

You hear about this one? The US beat Spain, planet earth’s greatest football team (oh, soccer..sorry, please don’t hit me).

You didn’t hear, did you? Well, I’m not surprised. Your national team (who play for YOU) just pulled off one of the biggest upsets in international football history, and here in America, the news of this event got wedged in between bridge results and the weather.

As a fan of footie, I’m relentlessly attacked with the question – ‘why is soccer not popular in America?’.

And here it is - two reasons plain and simple – (1) there is a press bias against soccer and (2) since 1980, America has seeped into cultural isolationism.

If you listen to sports talk-radio, as I do - #1 is plain as day. This morning I listened to Craig Carton on WFAN talk for 20 minutes about Mark Teixera’s fondness for Broadway shows. They then went on to discuss Shaq’s trade to Cleveland ad nauseum. In the 20-20 Sports update, they mention the Mets 11-0 blowout of the Cardinals, the Yankees victory over the Braves and NO mention of the second biggest upset in our own national team’s history.

If soccer is ever mentioned, at best it is treated as an amusing novelty. At worst, it is dismissed and maligned as faggoty. Why? Because it’s foreign.

Let’s face it, for the richest and most powerful nation on the planet, we have a population that is profoundly and willfully ignorant of anything beyond John & Kate’s divorce or the opening of the next big-box-store in their sprawling exurban death-grid. Americans aren’t stupid, just ignorant as in we ignore.

In 2004, a man lost the Presidential election because he spoke French. We almost had a Vice-President whose foreign travel experience was limited to Canada. We just had a President who confused Sweden and Switzerland and stated that democracy in Germany is a goal for the future.

Every schoolboy from Indonesia to Mali to Finland to Chile knows who Manchester United is. Most Americans would think this is an airplane that flies into New Hampshire.

It breaks down like this - to embrace this sport would be to embrace something from outside the United States. To embrace something from outside the United States is Un-American and un-patriotic. That’s what we’ve become.

1 comment:

  1. Part of the blame lies with a listless American team in past competitions. Sometimes things gain momentum because they are worthwhile. I hope this one does.

    I will be glued to Sunday's match against Brazil, just as I was to the match with Spain. You're right that Americans have little interest in what happens in other parts of the world, let alone with Man Utd. We care little about soccer's strength in the public eye, but then we don't even seem to care that we get solidly beaten in the World Baseball Classic (with or without steroids). So I don't get it either.