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05/07/2004

Why don’t American like soccer?

di Antonio Sofi, alle 18:47

[italian version. Translated by Daneel]

It’s a question I have asked myself many times, with scarce results.
During a long stay of mine in America, I only saw one soccer match on t.v., and I understood many things.
I will explain.
It was a kind of six-a-side football (six against six, who knows why): the feminine USA representative team versus the rest of the world. Wow! So to speak.
I immediately noticed two things. The first was that the commentators tended to explain everything (really everything) like they were talking to a three-year-old child or, exactly, an average American for whom soccer is still a not an understandable thing. My expert ears, while they were horrified, heard, to explain a simple throw-in, phrases like: «now, since the ball has gone beyond the line, the player can throw it in the field again putting the ball itself on the line and kicking it…»
The second was that what excited the public more were the shoot outs, or rather those wretched penalty kicks thrown starting from three fourths of the field, the ball close to the foot, with 5 seconds to carry out the action – which is the most stupid thing invented in the past few years and applied to soccer.

So, why can’t Americans swallow soccer?
A possible answer remains in the field of sports culture, a kind of cognitive traditionalism. Let’s compare, for example, American football and soccer.
The average Italian who watches an American football match doesn’t understand. Not only the rules, but just the beauty of the game.
The average American who watches a soccer match doesn’t understand. Not only the rules, but just what is funny in it.
Neither one is able to understand and appreciate the intrinsic differences between the two team sports. This is a thing that, in my opinion (but we are in the field of free bullshitting here) concerns some philosophic concepts used here just to make the experts of the branch roll in their graves and in front of the screens.

The initial impression is that American football is a sport practiced by overnourished and brainless boys. That is true, but that is just a part of the truth. The sport itself, in fact, is not at all banal and stupid: instead it is a fine mixture of strategy, physical strength, talent and team spirit. Besides, it has so many pauses that you can easily do other things while you are watching it: it is a sport that doesn’t require constant attention.
American football is, so to speak, of atomistic nature. It is made, to say in another way, by autoconcluding flashes of sheer show.
Scrum, pass, throw, caught? not caught?, end.
All in a few seconds, and one thousand replays that show you every microdetail.

Soccer, instead, is of a holistic nature, not fully appreciable through a broken-up viewing.
It requests concentration and attention, it winds up after a long time, with a certain slowness.
Soccer demands the complete comprehension of what is going on.
Maybe it is for this reason that in America, soccer, despite USA 94 World Cup and the effort of those few people who practice it (often immigrants and Latinos), doesn’t succeed in taking root.

Or maybe, coming out from bullshitting, there are other reasons.
Through Leibniz, I have found out a piece of Eric Weinberger entitled Soccer sociology.

The author, in extreme synthesis, thinks that the difficulty in understanding soccer is an epiphenomenon of an inability (of difficulty) of America to understand alterity. Can soccer explain the world? Or, at least, that piece of world where soccer is practiced, where it is an important social phenomenon? Yes it can, but America doesn’t succeed in doing that: an important signal of what he calls “great American isolation“.
Thus understanding soccer has the same importance as understanding Osama Bin Laden‘s appeal in the Philippines.

Weinberger concludes in this way:

«If we want to understand the world, we should probably try to understand soccer in the same way it’s suggested we try to understand Arabic, Islam, and other exotic plants. Understanding the appeal of David Beckham in Japan and now Madrid is perhaps like understanding the appeal of Osama bin Laden in Karachi or the Philippines. If that last sentence means nothing to you, you have some work to do.»

Who knows if he is right.
Anything but simple sport.


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  • 3 Commenti al post “Why don’t American like soccer?”

    1. Matteo
      maggio 26th, 2007 21:58
      1

      Football is cacca

    2. Matteo
      giugno 29th, 2007 22:51
      2

      Forza Basket forever!

    3. Antongiuli Roman
      settembre 6th, 2009 10:47
      3

      Permettetemi di chiarire certe mie affermazioni, la prima, secondo cui le donne potrebbero competere con gli uomini nella pratica del Rugby ciò che intendevo dire era che le donne possono impegnarsi in questo sport alla pari con gli uomini e trarne gli stessi insegnamenti, la seconda,secondo cui le squadre nord Europee di Hockey sarebbero aperte sia a uomini che donne, in realtà io mi riferivo alla vicenda della giocatrice di Hockey canadese chiamata Hayley Wickenheiser che giocò 23 incontri nella terza divisione svedese totalizzando 2 goal e 10 assist ma che rimase un evento unico nel suo genere

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