America Should Love Soccer!

Why does soccer get such a “bum rap” in American sports culture? I became a huge soccer fan during the 1994 World Cup, which was held in the U.S. that year. I found that I was unable to tear myself away from the TV during matches. Truth is, any World Cup since that year it’s been the same, I can’t leave the TV when there is a match going on. So it irks me to hear sports “personalities” or fans complain or “hate” on soccer. Youth soccer is extremely popular in America. I, unfortunately, never got the opportunity to play organized soccer, but I do enjoy playing a pick up game when I get the chance. With youth soccer being so popular, why doesn’t that popularity carry over into adulthood? Too much sports competition would be me guess. Baseball is Americas past time, right? But some of the same complaints I hear about baseball I hear about soccer. There is alot of standing around (baseball) or running around (soccer) with little or no scoring. In soccer, just like in baseball, fans need to watch the “game within the game”. In baseball there is the pitcher vs. the batter, the pitcher and catcher vs. the baserunners, the defensive placement of the fielders vs. the batter and even the catcher vs. the batter. Just the nuances of the game. The same goes for soccer. There’s the offensive player with the ball vs. the defender, the goalie vs. the corner kick, the short and long free kick. Not to mention one of the best battles in all of sports, the goalie vs the penalty kicker! In both sports, there is so much strategy going on, one just needs to pay attention to what’s going on to get more of an appreciation of each. I think for soccer to gain sustaining popularity in the U.S., three things need to happen and they’re tied into each other: First and formost, the MLS needs to get wildly popular! That’s laughable at this point in time though, isn’t it? Just work with me here, OK. The U.S. youth soccer popularity needs to translate into two (or more) genuine U.S. born and bred superstars! U.S. soccers’ own version of Bird & Magic! Secondly, that would (hopefully) turn into U.S. mens National team big time international success. Not just making the World Cup field, but dare I say, WINNING a World Cup, led by Americas own homegrown Beckham and Pele! I can dream, can’t I? Lastly, and unfortunately, for soccer to become a major force in Americas sports landscape, gambling would need to become part of the equation. I’m not advocating it, but for soccer to get to the level of other major American team sports, MLS betting odds would need to become a staple in American newspapers. I do get why sports fans for the the most part, don’t care about the MLS. Truth is, I don’t have much interest either. I enjoy World Cup soccer, English Premier league, international friendlies, college and even high school games. I just can’t get into Major League Soccer, and I’ve tried. I think I’ve figured out why, though. I can’t find a reason to root for or against any team in the MLS. I reside in Colorado, so I should root for the Rapids, right? But, from what I can tell, Colorado sports fans don’t much care, so why should I? Oh wait, maybe I should go to a game? Hold on, last time I checked, a ticket for a Rapid game was about three times what a Rockie ticket cost, so you do the math. In general I’ll root for the Rapids and against the New England Revolution ( I can almost always root against a Boston team), but I can’t say I care enough either way! I’m willing to guess that the rest of American sports fans feel the same way, which is too bad because soccer is a great sport that I wish America cared more about and that is why Americas’ indifference toward soccer is number 9 on my Top Ten List of things that I hate, disappoint or aggravate me about sports. arjay 09/22/09

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