It may be the world’s game, but it’s not mine.
Now I’m not one to complain, but right in the middle of a fine baseball season, one replete with triple plays, perfect games and a heckuva start by the defending champion New York Yankees, somebody had to go and schedule the World Cup. Yes, the World Cup; beloved around the globe for its pageantry, its passion and it’s…I don’t know what else. Look, I couldn’t care less about offending anyone when it comes to a mere difference in preference; I am, after all, a conservative from Connecticut. And I’ve often made the case for baseball as our national pastime, only to be rebuked by those who prefer NFL football or NASCAR racing.
But let me say at the outset: I hate soccer. I not only do not desire to watch it, I wish that all soccer fields in my town would be re-purposed as dog-walking facilities or, better yet, returned to their former baseball diamond beauty. Now before I hear the old argument that I know nothing about the game, let me state up front that while dating a native of Italy who played on a team here, I was compelled to waste my time watching soccer up close and personally every Sunday for four years. I was also forced to play on my junior high school team where my blazing speed and lightning-quick reflexes were similarly squandered in that same pointless pursuit.
So yes, I’m no stranger to soccer. But so-called World Cup Fever is making me sick, as in an unwanted pestilence pervading my existence. I cannot open a newspaper without gazing upon images of crazed fans or tune into ESPN for baseball or basketball scores without the droning of vuvuzelo horns ringing in my ears. Some of my friends are trying hard to get in the “spirit” of the thing. They guiltily sidle up to me and ask if I watched so-and-so play whoever last night. After absorbing my withering glance they are forced to admit that they too could only take it for a few minutes or so before tuning in to something more stimulating, like the local traffic and weather channel.
And so I am not alone. There are others who, like me, have a visceral dislike for soccer — call me xenophobic, I refuse to call it football — because it is a microcosm for much that is wrong with America. Why? Well, for one, I resent the way the game has continually been foisted upon us as a way to point out our lack of appreciation for the cultures of the rest of the world. This of course is patently ridiculous, as we are and have always been a Melting Pot for the best of the various ethnicities that make up our beloved nation of immigrants. But we draw the line on two subjects: our Constitution and our sports. These we do not import; we export them.
The rest of the world complains because we, as one of the planet’s greatest consumers of entertainment, don’t share their love of the game. They especially cite this in our relationships with Muslim countries as part of the reason why they hate us; that we do not understand their hopes and joys. But what would happen if we really did commit all our resources to the pursuit of soccer excellence? Can you imagine if we employed our training and technology, and most importantly, if our best athletes forewent football, baseball, and basketball in order to take up… soccer? The result, of course, would be more hate and resentment as we would no doubt regularly apply vicious whippings to the rest of the world.
So it’s bad enough that those of us who are bored by soccer are, like George W. Bush, constantly vilified for being intellectually incurious and un-nuanced, simply for our dislike of something that enraptures the rest of the globe. But to make matters worse, it’s become the preferred choice of parents — don’t forget the use of the term “soccer moms” and its relation to the reelection of Bill Clinton — as both a babysitting tool and a self-esteem builder with none of those embarrassing “tryouts” of their Little League memories. Every time I turn on the World Cup and see the lads cavorting across the pitch, I’m reminded of the kiddies who were only allowed to shag foul balls for the ones who could actually play the game.
All this and more contributes to my abhorrence of soccer and any and all attempts to make me warm up to a game that, at best, leaves me cold. So go ahead you soccer lovers; have your parties and whoop it up should your team ever score a goal. And by all means blow your vuvuzelos, which sound like a nest of buzzing hornets; a perfect metaphor for a game that William Shakespeare might have called full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
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H/T to National Review Online