If you're a soccer fan in America, you know the feeling of swimming against the tide every time you watch a match.
People aren't just uninterested in soccer. They hate it. Sure, they've never seen a match, but they're pretty sure it's crap and nothing you can do or say will ever change that.
They live in a bubble, reciting what they're supposed to say to fit in with everybody else confined to the borders of America. And they have plenty of reasons as to why soccer isn't worth a second of their time, and why it's the rest of the world that's crazy for thinking such an awful sport is even remotely entertaining.
We've heard them all, and here are the best of them: the very worst, most mind-numbingly stupid reasons why the world's most popular sport is actually totally horrible (as only Americans have apparently come to realize).
I fully understand where the proponents of this argument are coming from. People play soccer when they're young. They enjoy soccer when they're young. And then, if they're any variety of "normal" at all, they grow out of it in plenty of time to get all big and stuff to make the football team.
There's really nothing I can say about this one. It's just the way it is in America. Soccer is, quite objectively, a sport for children.
Unless—wait. Are there, perhaps—other places?
The youth soccer programs in America are actually pretty decent, and are widely infused into our culture. But the lack of a quality, and popular, professional league creates the illusion that the sport is only enjoyed by the very young (and only if they happen to be playing it).
But soccer is still wildly popular, to a degree that is entirely unrivaled in the sporting world, in just about every other place. And in those places, it is in fact played (and viewed) by adults.
No, really. So?
What's really the big difference? Why is it such a problem? It's difficult to count the same way you learned to count when you were three?
The clock counts up because there is no official "zero" that you could reach to hear the buzzer and end the game. It allows for the referee to add the necessary stoppage time to account for injuries and time-wasting tactics (and I'm aware that the soccer haters take issue with that as well, and I assure you that I'm getting to it).
One author explained the problem, in his article Top Ten Reasons to Hate Soccer:
"This requires fans to do math to find out how much time until halftime or the end of the game. And doing math is one thing that we hated doing the most."
In all of the many matches that I've attended, I've never once been thwarted by such basic arithmetic. I must be a genius.
This one isn't quite as common, but I've personally encountered it a couple of times in casual conversation. It usually goes something like this:
"Nobody likes soccer."
"Plenty of people like soccer. It's the most popular sport in the world."
"Yeah, but that's just because they don't have better sports!"
Each time somebody pulls this little nugget of nonsense out of their hat, I have to stop myself from laughing hard enough to get me in trouble.
Sure guys, if only there was some sort of worldwide information sharing network that people could log onto and learn about the infinitely better "American sports" in the comfort of their own homes. Soccer would cease to exist, if only such a thing were available!
There's a reason why the NFL's little experiment in Europe failed. People didn't care. It was right there in their backyards, and they didn't care.
Though, to be honest, I think most soccer-loving populations would be quick to abandon the sport if only somebody would introduce them to the non-stop pulse-pounding action of Major League Baseball.
This one is tough, because in a lot of ways it's really just a matter of opinion. And we're all entitled to our opinions.
Still, there are those who recognize that they're using it as a statement of personal preference that anybody else is more than welcome to disagree with, and there are those who really seem to think that it's a rock-solid statement of objective fact.
And, in so many cases, it's a mindlessly regurgitated pile of scripted nonsense spewing from the mouths of people who have never bothered to watch a match with an open mind or willingness to deviate from the social norm that they're so terrified of breaking.
In any case, there are plenty of people around the world who disagree with this particular opinion. But anybody who holds it is more than welcome to continue doing so.
This just seems like a great opportunity to remind the readers that American Football, which is so often touted in America as the epitome of exciting sport, only actually contains 11 minutes of gameplay in a typical three-hour broadcast.
The rest? Commercials, replays, and "players standing around." At least soccer tries to keep the ball in play for as close to 90 minutes as possible.
No, it's just different than what you're used to.
Yes, when the clock hits 90, the players keep playing. And everything that continues to happen also continues to count.
Some people have suggested that a better way to deal with injuries and wasted time would be to just stop the clock. But that would very much go against the flowing nature of the game that has made it so popular.
Plus, there's something uniquely intriguing about watching an attacking sequence late into stoppage time and not truly knowing when the game will end. It adds a sense of urgency that's largely unmatched by other competitive sports.
Actually, I'll level with you. "Diving" is a recognized problem in many major leagues right now, and it's certainly managed to cause its fair share of frustrating moments for fans and players alike.
Though steps have been taken to reduce the incidents of result-altering decisions as a result of diving, it still manages to impact the game from time to time.
For the most part, though, feigning injury is used for other purposes like taking time off the clock, which is addressed by adding time to the end of the half (you know, that other thing you complained about).
Some people seem to be under the impression that soccer injuries are just entirely make-believe to begin with. Soccer, despite what you may believe, is in fact a full-contact sport with plenty of shoving, grappling, kicking (yeah, there's kicking) and mistimed tackles that can have devastating consequences.
So, to that particular group of people, all I have to say is this (somewhat graphic content).
Really? That's a deal-breaker for you? Conflicting senses of fashion?
I get it, though. You're really gunning for that internship at Teen Vogue. We're all rooting for you!
Look, different geographical regions have different ideas of what's "fashionable." Oh, well. I'm not going to get on your case for being unreasonably terrified of the mean guy at work calling your masculinity into question because neither of you can grasp that concept.
You may resume watching the big men in tights ram into each other for three hours.
Another variation of this that we've all heard at one point or another is the delightfully idiotic "ties are un-American."
You know, because the most sound logic ever formulated involves the idea that everything you don't like is unpatriotic.
Still, I can understand how ties might be a difficult pill to swallow for the uninitiated. But that has a lot to do with the fact that most sports that we're familiar with in America aren't exactly structured to accommodate a tie scenario.
American sports decide leaders in the standings based on win/loss records, whereas soccer leagues do it based on points (three points for a win, one for a draw).
If you support a team that was heavily favored to lose a game, it certainly feels like a victory to escape with a point. Your team accomplished something that was entirely unexpected, and probably worked remarkably hard to do it.
Still, some people are just never going to accept that there's not a winner and a loser, and it's a perfectly acceptable matter of opinion. But when they say something ridiculous like "how do you know who was the better team?" it really just makes us laugh (the answer, by the way, is position in the standings).
Why do we laugh? How many years were these fans unquestionably accepting tie-breaking procedures that really only determined which side could best guess the results of a coin toss?
This is another legitimate opinion-based argument, though it's again one that's far too often spewed from the mouths of those repeating seemingly rehearsed talking points.
That said, the same day that I watched Manchester City beat Manchester United 6-1, I later watched the Cleveland Browns defeat the Seattle Seahawks 6-3. And I've seen enough 1-0 baseball results to know that the scores can often be pretty comparable.
But if low scores are really that much of an issue to you, then soccer is certainly not your sport. I still can't help but wonder: if you're only deriving joy from your favorite sport in the moments when points go up on the board, then isn't there maybe something wrong with everything that's happening in between?
Who's shoving it down your throat? I'm genuinely curious.
Was there a match on ESPN when you hoped something else would be on? So what? Change the channel. It's not your network, and they know they can make money off of the millions of people who will watch it.
Did somebody try and talk you into watching a game? Whatever will you do? Looks like your only options are to actually give it a shot, or say no.
Persecution complex, much?
If you don't want to watch soccer, then don't watch soccer. But it also means that nobody around you can enjoy it, talk about it, or air it on their television network because you might accidentally stumble upon it and be forced to see it for a couple of seconds?
Honestly, none of us want you on board that badly, anyway. You're not going to be missed. And outside of the American bubble, you're very much in the minority.
This one is closely tied to the idea that soccer is being "shoved down America's throat" simply because some television networks pushed it so that they could make money off of high-profile events like the World Cup. But blogger Matthew Philbin took it one step further.
Not only is it being shoved down our throats, it's being done so as part of a conspiracy from the leftist media to turn us all into sissies!
One little tidbit:
The liberal media have always been uncomfortable with "American exceptionalism:" the belief that the United States is unique among nations, a leader and a force for good. And they are no happier with America's rejection of soccer than with its rejection of socialism.
He goes on about how soccer is un-American and a poison to true patriotism, all in response to the legions of American fans during the 2010 World Cup who lined up outside bars and screamed "USA, USA" for hours on end.
The funny thing is, the real reason some networks as airing more soccer matches is an effort to create and exploit the profitable fan following that they know is possible from briefly looking anywhere else in the world. And that sounds a lot like good old American capitalism to me.