Every four years the World Cup comes around, and every four years I try my best to finally get into soccer. Every four years I fail. In fact, I don't just fail to like soccer, I usually come away disliking more than before. And the game of soccer has little to do with it.
"Why don't Americans embrace soccer like the rest of the world?" The question has been asked a billion times since the World Cup started, and there are about a billion answers. Dave Eggers came up with two reasons that make sense to me: 1) We didn't invent it, and 2) The amount of flopping that goes on turns off the America sports fan. I think those are somewhat valid, but their not the reason I personally dislike soccer.
Probably the most common answer is "soccer is boring". I don't agree with this either. my favorite sport is baseball. I'm not even going to try and convince a non-fan that it's incredibly exciting, even though it is to me. So I can handle a perceived "boring" sport.
No, my reason has more to do with attitude. Let me take you back to sixth grade to illustrate.
In sixth grade, we had a teacher, Mrs. Mercier, who tried to get us redneck kids exposed to some culture. Some attempts were traumatizing (the mime show), but others actually sort of worked. Like when she took us to Fresno to see the symphony. I was expecting to be bored, but it was actually pretty cool. Afterwards, we went to the Farmer's Market in Fresno, which had a variety of restaurants. Me and my friends, being sixth-graders, went to a hamburger stand. We were in line, when a girl named Monica walked by and condescendingly said, "You're eating American? Ha, I'm going to get some Italian food." Um, hello? WE'RE IN SIXTH GRADE FOR CHRISSAKES! She was probably just going to Sbarro or some shit like that, but baked ziti might as well been foie gras to our sheletered asses back then.
You probably see where I'm going with this. Monica represents the typical soccer fan. I cannot stand when soccer fans act like there's something about soccer my backwards ass doesn't get. Trust me, I get it. I understand the game. I know the rules; it's not brain surgery. I had to run around and eat orange slices at halftime like every other kid. I actually mildly like the game itself. But the patronizing attitude just ruins it. Think about the soccer players when you were in high school. Man, those dudes were uppity, spoiled pricks. Because they liked U2, went skiing, and sported more fashionable mullets than everyone else, they walked around with an air of superiority. Ugh, soccer players, the thought gives me the willies.
So, if you want soccer to take off in the United States, my advice is...well, actually, give up. It's never gonna happen. But if you want people like me, people who are on the fence about soccer, to come over to the dark side, keep your trap shut and have a reasonable, humble attitude about your sport. It's no better than any other sport. You prefer soccer and Sbarro, I prefer baseball and a cheeseburger. Deal with it. Just enjoy your sport and quit pretending a game of soccer is the artistic equivilent of a Renoir, and I'll probably eventually come around.