[Italian version. Translated by Daneel]
Even though I was doing other things, the question was still in the back of my mind. Why don’t Americans like soccer?
There were two possible answers, one more petty, one more serious.
Luckily, some comments to the previous post help me.
The most frivolous answer reminded me of a possible ontological difference between the typical American sports and the European ones.
The first ones are fast, broken up and atomistic, the second ones slower, holistic, demanding complete awareness.
As Effe writes: Â«There is that the Old Continent is prolix and baroque, the New one instead is concise (in many meanings) and bare.Â»
And still: Latifah underlines a sort of American quantitative passion, also inflected to sport: Â«in short, a sort of capitalism of the score… The higher it is, the more interesting the sportÂ», while Mauro “Polenta” uses splendid words relative to the problem of time: Â«soccer is like the sequence shot, it is the effort to be that clash with the passing of time, it is (paraphrasing Cocteau) the death at work.
American football and baseball are the triumph of the act on time, in fact when no one is acting time is stopped, suspended (sheer utopia that is realized).Â»
A question of time and quantity.
But also of attitude.
The American one is more relaxed: (Miic writes) Â«I remember [...] the attitude of the people, who rose, sat down, went to buy pop-corn, did everything with a great relaxationÂ»; the European/Italic one is more passionate: (Jest writes) Â«I say that Americans go to the stadium to relax. We don’t. We suffer like crushed pigs. If the match is a fucked, we too rise to buy pop-corn. They play, we fight fiercely. Still, USA national team is an important team, as Pizzul would sayÂ».
That is a synthesis of mine (anyway, I don’t agree with Pizzulâ€™s important team – actually, no one has never known what it means): not all of the sports suit all of the cultures (broadly speaking). Because they have different characteristics and they don’t always find the right environment that welcomes them. The fact that soccer is more widespread in Europe and football in America, in this sense, with the opportune distinctions and cutting the question with the axe, is perfectly sensible. Exaggerating a bit, and with disdain of ridicule, this all has its logic and justification in “cultural” differences and in “social” habits.
Until now, somehow or other, it all balances out. But there is also the second matter.
That one that judged the typical American sports (and the difficulty to like soccer) like an epiphenomena of the tendency to a certain isolationism, taking a piece of Weinberger about the subject.
Which said, in extreme synthesis: if we don’t succeed in understanding soccer, it is (also) because we don’t succeed in understanding what is different from us. With a good amount of provocation, understanding soccer is as important as understanding, for instance, the Middle Eastern dynamics, or Bin Laden’s appeal.
It seemed to me, thinking of this second problem again, that I made a big blunder.
If we keep talking about soccer vs football, for simplicity: the fact that Americans don’t understand soccer is true, but do Italians understand American football? No, they don’t, and they don’t even make any effort; while in reality that is a very fascinating sport. So, we can say the same thing about Italians (or about Europeans): they are sportively Eurocentric and don’t see beyond their soccer ball. That is more or less the same thing that Reginadelsole writes: Â«Don’t we want to consider the autochthon isolationism? There are a lot of sports practically ignored by the average Italian, mad about balls rolling around the feet…Â»
Then, is there any difference between the European soccercentrism and the American footballcentrism (but I would add also baseball and the NBA)?
Is it like Miic says, Â«a sport in which Americans aren’t the best in the world doesn’t give them any pleasure (while NBA champions are World Champions, World Series are played in baseball, etc.)Â»?
Isn’t the contrary just as true, to explain why baseball doesn’t take root in Italy?
I believe, in conclusion, that the problem passes from sport to politics. Soccer, in this sense, ceases to be just a sport. As Weinberger wrote, even if not explicitly, fastens itself to the question of globalization, as well as to what many people call cultural imperialism (but I don’t agree completely, both with the definition and with the idea that is underneath, for some reasons).
A country that exports culture set in the form of movies, books, music and many other things (good products and not-so-good ones, obviously) and also some sports and sport cultures (NBA basketball, for instance) doesn’t succeed in welcoming other sports. Among which soccer, that actually is not a secondary sport in the world. And it doesn’t succeed in welcoming it to inflect it “as Americans do” (like, for example, for many musical, cinematographic, or artistic suggestions).
Many things, and confused, I am aware of this.
An image has risen in my mind, in the end.
A ball that rolls and bounces, uncontrollable.
Let us hope that no one will deflate it to us.