The world’s greatest nation is surprisingly mediocre when it comes to playing the world’s most popular sport. It’s not that they keep losing – far from it. Americans have a winning mentality that automatically ensures that whatever team they put out will be competitive.
However, when it comes to genuine footballing talent, the US are found wanting. Many people have blamed this in poor infrastructure, training methods and the short period of time that proper club football has been around in the US. I disagree – these might be symptoms of a country that doesn’t generate footballing talent but when you consider the sporting talent in general that the US has produced over the years it’s clear that there’s something else at hand here.
Personally, I put it down as a cultural issue – Americans by and large just don’t care about football. Sure, there are fans here and there, but compared to a nation like Spain or Italy, the US as a people do not value soccer, they don’t respect the game and there’s very little cultural love for it.
So here are 7 cultural reasons why Americans have no real talent for soccer:
1. No Hands
The most popular American sports – basketball, baseball, American football, ice hockey, golf – primarily involve the use of hands / upper body to compete in. In fact, you could argue that feet are only for mobility (only American football allows for kicking, and that too is best done long-range).
Now if you drop a sport like soccer – all feet, some head and no hands – it’s like asking someone to walk on their hands instead of their feet. It’s not easy to switch around to compeletely different way of playing a sport.
This is the primary reason why when you see the MLS, the terms ‘long-ball’ and ‘headless chicken’ come to mind.
2. Ridiculous Name
Soccer? Seriously? The biggest obstacle to soccer’s popularity in the US may well be its name. You can’t have two sports by the same name, unless you want to see Eddie Johnson pick up the ball and then do his customary dash up the pitch and then look around all confused as opposition defenders pile up on him.
Soccer. Sawker. I feel dumber just saying it. It’s called football, and unless the American people learn to call it by it’s real name (come to think of it, Australians have their Australian Rules footy and they still call the beautiful game football),it’s not going to be successful.
3. No Breaks
Who in the world thought of a 90-minute game that only took one break, and that too after 45 minutes? The American public is used to a quick break every 5 minutes, if not sooner. Basketball has its quarters. Baseball has its regular breaks with batters coming in and going out. American football is a stop-start game. In golf you hit a ball a couple of hundred yards and then you walk towards it (the game is a candidate for the most retarded sport ever award).
On the other hand, soccer has a natural ebb and flow to it that no American sport can match.
Americans have been bred on small, easily digestible segments of everything – sport, news, knowledge, etc. It’s a cultural effort to make low concentration levels a standard across the country. It’s also why the typical American watching soccer feels the inevitable urge to flip to another channel and watch commercials every 5 minutes.
This is why you see US goalkeepers do so well – they thrive in the stop-start nature of a goalie’s involvement in the game.
4. They Hate It
They didn’t create it, and they’re not very good at it. Either one would have been enough to foster some passion for the sport, but since there are so many countries in the world that are better than the US at soccer, the American people have little interest.
And it makes sense too – why follow something in which your side keeps losing? After being subjected to a lifetime of doctored news and world views, this sudden brush with reality is overwhelming for the average American psyche and they do what any American would do when faced with something they don’t know – they turn their back to it.
Ironically this disdain for soccer makes it more difficult for the sport to take off in the country – a vicious cycle.
5. No One Likes The Americans
Usually, when there’s someone in your family who’s not as good at a sport as you are, you tend to try and help them out so that they can get better and (hopefully) provide more of a challenge to you later on.
At least that’s what I’ve seen.
With the US though, the rest of the world isn’t so kind. We’ve made it acceptable to make fun of US soccer instead of going there and investing in the sport in America. We’ve made it acceptable to mock them instead of training them and coaching them.
That’s why when someone like David Beckham – an excellent businessman – goes to the US to invest in soccer, the world laughs at him. Would you laugh at Bill Gates if he invested in a new technology startup? People would scramble to get involved. The world doesn’t take Americans seriously, and soccer is worse off as a result.
6. It’s Illegal To Cheat
Did you know that American sports in general do not follow WADA rules? That the use of performance-enhancing drugs is not strictly regulated in US sports? The World Anti-Doping Agency has strict regulations that almost all sports adhere to, especially soccer with it’s spot drug testing and what not. American sports, on the other hand, play by their own rules, which is a nice way to say that American sports feature more drug abuse than more global sports.
In some cases, having a global authority making sure that you follow certain standards is a good thing.
But hey, what’s the point of playing a sport when you can’t pump yourself with drugs to make you faster / stronger? If you can’t cheat, why play?
7. No Cheerleaders
In all honesty this is where I agree with the Americans. Soccer needs cheerleaders like one needs a glass of cold water on a hot day. As we’ve discussed before on Soccerlens, cheerleaders can stop hooliganism, provide suitable pitch-side (or on-TV) distractions when the game itself gets a little tedious and once you give each club their own cheerleading squad, there’s a whole new set of rivalries to play upon for the advertisers.
Plus if there’s no porn, how can a genuine American sports fan enjoy the game? Without cheerleaders soccer just isn’t manly enough. It’s blasphemous.
So there you have it – 7 reasons why American society is setup to undermine the soccer’s success in the US. Let us know what you think in the comments (or on your blog).