Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Soccer - World's Game?

I'm not a soccer fan (football, whatever you want to call it).  I've played and coached the sport.  As a coach of 9 year olds, I realized that it's a great sport to wear kids out.  As a player, I had fun, no doubt.  (Fun team, we'd head to the karaoke bar afterwards.  Other teams would wait for our game to get over to make sure they knew where we were going.)  I resist the implication though, that the US is somehow inferior because soccer isn't more widely accepted.

The media and a number of fans push the idea that we have to like the game because it is the World's Game.  Checking the website Most Popular Sports, Soccer does rank number one in the world.  (They try to rank sports by the number of visits to sport websites.)  In the US, Soccer ranks number 5.  I was surprised to see that Hockey ranked above it.  (Cricket is leading the user poll.  Cricket is the sport that I actually think is probably the most popular.)

Today's Wall St. Journal has an interesting article on match-fixing in Turkey.  In addition, 74 people were recently killed in a soccer match in Egypt.  Both of these articles reinforce my desire not to be interested in soccer.  It's my guess that more spectators were killed at this soccer match that were killed in every other sport all over the world for all of last year.  Over and over again fights break out at soccer matches.  With this much violence associated with the sport, how can it be so wonderful?

I know going to an Oakland Raider game as a fan of the opponent is dangerous.  I went to a preseason game between Oakland and New Orleans wearing my Redskins hat and was threatened.  I know that there are times that fights break out.  At a USC vs Notre Dame football game in LA, I saw a couple fights and was also threatened.  Yet, with all this poor behavior, 74 spectators didn't get killed at either NFL or college football games.  Famously, a SF Giants fan was attacked at a Dodger game.

People like to rag on cycling because of the news about doping.  (I wrote a blog on this topic a few days ago.)  With every article on cycling, they mention doping - it doesn't matter what the article is about.  Soccer though, doesn't get the same treatment when really, it should. 

Soccer is a fine sport.  I'm in favor of people supporting the sports that they like.  I don't even mind people liking to talk about sports that they like.  However, implying that non-fans are half-wits for not liking the sport crosses the line.

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