Kick Me

I really wish I could care about the World Cup.

The sense is that Americans don’t care about soccer because
we’re jingoes, we’re not as good at it as other countries, we’re self-absorbed
or we’re just assholes. While I wouldn’t argue with most of those things, none
of that has anything to do with why I can’t deal with soccer.

As a kid, I was caught up in that “hey everyone’s going to
learn soccer” movement that captured the country in the early 1980s. We were
also caught up in that whole “we’ll be converting to the metric system, so
learn it” thing. I still buy my gas by the gallon and measure my kid’s height
by the inch, so we know how well that worked out.

I played for eight years, the limit of time allowed before I
went off to high school and you had to be good to play. I think I scored two
goals in my whole life, but I got to spend Saturdays with my friends. It wasn’t
bad, but it wasn’t a life calling.

When the Midget got old enough to participate in some YMCA
programs, she asked to be in soccer. If you haven’t seen 4 and 5-year-olds play
soccer, you’re really missing something. Between the number of kids running out
of their shoes and the goalie who keeps wandering off, it’s something to

In mid-season, the coordinator was dividing the kids into teams
and needed someone to coach one of the teams. The Missus, who works at the Y,
volunteered me. I agreed but pleaded ignorance.

“What should I do?” I asked the coordinator.

“It’s easy,” she explained. “Just tell them they’re doing a
great job, remind them not to use their hands and watch for kids who need potty

I wonder if Bob Bradley has to be on potty watch…

It was great watching the kids play. Imagine 11 kids on a
side, with two goalies sitting around while a pack of 20 kids chases a ball in
every direction. By the second stoppage of play, the kids all want to go home
or eat dinner. Eventually, someone scores a goal by accident, they all run a
lap around the arena and everyone gets a sticker.

It’s great fun, but it doesn’t make me want to watch the
World Cup.

The common arguments issued by most soccer purists regarding
my disdain don’t really apply.

“You’re a U.S.-centric sports snob. Football, baseball and

Not true. Sure, I’ll catch the big three, but I’m also fine
flipping through the channels and catching a sports event in which I’ve got no
real betting interest and still get involved. I caught the end of the Stanley
Cup, even though I didn’t care who won. I’ve watched track and field on the Big
10 Network and cheered for some kid I just saw for the first time six seconds
ago. Hell, I even caught the Lumberjack Olympics a couple years ago and was
screaming my head off for a guy from Ripon, Wisconsin who was whipping a
two-handed saw through a log.

“If someone isn’t scoring every six seconds, you’re too
ADD-addled to care.”

Again, not true. Baseball is one of my favorite sports and
it can be as slow as molasses in January. Hockey’s a great sport (thanks,
Canada!) and the games could end in scoreless ties when I started watching. The
speed of the game isn’t a deterrent for me. While baseball is great for me,
soccer is as boring as owl shit.

“You don’t understand the game.”

So not true. I played it and I had friends who played all
the way up the ladder. I know enough of the rules to follow along. I know how
it works, the strategy and more. I just don’t give a shit.

This has caused more than a bit of consternation around me.
One of my favorite colleagues is a guy who shows up for faculty meetings
wearing soccer jerseys. He’s been trying to get me jacked up about this, but it’s
not happening for me. I feel like a sex partner who is politely laying there
because my significant other really wanted it that night and I couldn’t care
enough to get involved or to say no. Thus while everyone else is getting their
soccer rocks off, I’m doing the “Mmm hmm. That was nice.”

To be fair, it’s only a couple weeks. Watching ESPN scramble
for people with English accents to fill their coverage teams is really great.
Every “round table” discussion starts with explaining who the hell the guy is
because 95 percent of the viewing audience never heard of him. It’s also great
when some underdog story emerges and people start talking about an obscure
striker from Botswana like he’s a family member.

Still, I’m not interested and not much can be done to make
me care. It’s like why some people don’t like peaches or can’t stand the color

It is what it is. Kick on without me.

13 thoughts on “Kick Me

  1. I bravely watched some World Cup play a few years back and just could not get into it. I was particularly peeved when I’d wasted 90 minutes of my life watching a game THAT NO ONE WON. Does not compute. But then, I am also one of these assholes who says that soccer is not a real sport. I know some Americans who bluster on about how soccer is not a sport, only our sports are the real sports, blah, blah, blah. Those are the Americans who give us all a bad name.

  2. I enjoy watching soccer, even though I almost never played it as a kid. Years ago world cup soccer got a very bad reputation with me when too many teams would play for a tie for strategic reasons, or just because they were too lazy to do otherwise. Nothing in sports is more boring than having defense men kicking a soccer back and forth between them and their goalie for 2 hours. But, the last few world cups I didn’t see much of that.

  3. Watch Spain play a game or two during this tournament and see what you think. The modern game is getting hyper athletic and teams play not to make mistakes and to score on the counter attack so play can be a bit slow but Spain isn’t like that. They are as skilled as you can possibly be and play to win. If you watch Spain play and still don’t like it, you aren’t ever going to like it. Spain has probably 10 of the world’s best 20 players right now and plays with a ton of energy and teamwork.

  4. I don’t give a damn about soccer, either, but I also don’t give a damn about football, hockey, golf, tennis, or just about any other sport I’m likely to encounter in my brief occasional run-ins with teevee. I don’t mind live baseball, and I really like any and all equestrian sports, but mostly I’d ratherplay sports than watch them.
    You folks really should convert to metric, by the way. Why anyone would use the Imperial system when you can count metric on your fingers (since it’s base 10) and where the temperature scale actually makes sense (0C is the freezing point of water; 100C is the boiling point of water) is utterly beyond me. I’m prone to asking people who quote me figures in Imperial, “What’s that in real numbers?” 🙂

  5. Ooo, I’m going to steal that one from Interrobang. “What’s that in real numbers?” I’m cackling just thinking about it…
    And she’s right, by the way, you really should make the conversion to metric, it’s so mucheasier. Plus all of your scientific types have already done it (at least in their professional lives), so you’re already partway there.

  6. Doc, the difference is that the real football –not the padded rugby version the NFL plays– is the only sport that gets Americans writing paragraphs about why they don’t like it and at this point, it’s all so mind-numbingly boring. Could you types just do us football lovers a huge favor and keep it to yourself?

  7. At least this time ESPN found some broadcasters who actually know the game. Last time they had a baseball guy (Dave O’Brien) aslead broadcaster, which was laughably bad if you didn’t love the game and (I’m sure) excruciatingly awful if you did.

  8. I grew up in England but still not a huge football fan. I’ll watch a championship game but, otherwise, not that interested. Having said that though, there’s nothing more boring than baseball. I’ve been to one baseball game and even the hotdogs and beer couldn’t save that day for me! Baseball or football? I’ll still pick football, and WHY do Americans call it soccer? Join the rest of the world, dudes.

  9. I used to think the word “soccer” was low-rent, but nah, it’s ok. I believe it’s a word that originated in England, and I don’t mind using it, just like I don’t mind using the word “movie” instead of “film.”
    I’ll be watching World Cup, but mostly to enjoy the atmosphere. Am hoping to find a decent bar running the games. In terms of pace, soccer seems a lot like baseball: slow, but that makes it easier to soak in the surroundings, the other people, and so on, without the game distracting…and every once in a while, there’s a bit of real drama.
    Oh, and to wander late into the metric discussion–I thought the early 80s were when the US began to agressively (and regressively) move away from popular use (metric is used in science and engineering.) Guess I’m a bit older than Doc, but I recall the early/mid 1970s was a bit more metric friendly in the US. Our primary school had various metric “toys,” like a kilogram weight, a metric measuring stick and so on. Baseball parks had fence measurements in feet and meters. And on SNL, Dan Ackroyd did a hilarous bit about how the alphabet was going to change to “the decabet.”

  10. as a rugby player who was tossed out of the only refereed soccer game i ever played, i view the world cup as the quadrennial gathering of guys-who-fall-down-and-writhe-in-agony-until-they-see-that-the-ref-is-ignoring-them.

  11. here’s the deal.
    Sports pick their fans.
    Soccer stuck its tongue out at me and went “pppphhhhhhhhhbbbbtt,” and I went, “Okay.”
    ‘Cause, you know, I had other friends, at that age.
    Jump rope (and bamboo poles to jump, too).
    A Welsh pony.
    A basketball.
    A bat and ball and glove and a softball diamond to play on.
    A BB rifle, and a bow and arrow.
    A trampoline.
    Never got into gymnastics, either.
    Sue me. Soccer’s fine for the fans. I’m just not one.

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