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Ann Coulter's recent article "America's Favorite National Pastime: Hating Soccer" is two things. First, it is an example of that shrill uncouthness that Europeans like to attribute to Americans, an obnoxious boorishness that is typical behavior for those jerks, which are the subject of Dr. Fleming's numerous articles. Second, it is an exaggerated illustration of someone writing about a topic she has no idea about.
All of Coulter's arguments against soccer are easily demolished. First, she argues that "individual achievement is not a big factor in soccer" unlike in "real sports" like baseball, football, and basketball. Obviously, she has not seen too many (any?) soccer games. Soccer is all about individual achievement: scoring goals, missing penalties, deflecting shots - all of these things are done by individual players. Yes, teamwork does matter, as it should. After all, soccer is a team sport.
Ann Coulter's laughable cluelessness is further demonstrated by the following assertion about soccer:
There are no heroes, no losers, no accountability
Really, now? How about Jermaine Jones' stunning equalizer in the group stage game against Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal, which kept the American team alive - was he not a "hero" in sports terms? And how about Uruguay's star forward Luis Suarez's infamous bite, which got Suarez thrown out of the World Cup and resulted in Uruguay's loss to Colombia? Was Suarez not both a loser and a villain who was held accountable?
How about this other Coulter gem about the beautiful game:
Everyone just runs up and down the field and, every once in a while, a ball accidentally goes in. That's when we're supposed to go wild. I'm already asleep.
By accident? Even a child should not be this ignorant about soccer. As for going to sleep, do not the replays after every football play and the sheer slow, sleep-inducing nature of baseball make a soccer match a nail-biting experience in comparison? After all, what is baseball's or football's equivalent to the adrenaline-fueled penalty shootout?
Then there is the assertion that "[t]he prospect of either personal humiliation or major injury is required to count as a sport", implying that soccer is not a "real" sport because of the absence of these crucial factors. What could be more humiliating than missing a penalty shot or being send off of the pitch - events that lead to your team's defeat or elimination. And who can forget the story of Colombian player Andres Escobar who was murdered a mere five days after deflecting a shot into his team's own goal at the 1994 World Cup. Apparently, Ann Coulter is so blinded by her anti-soccer rage that she completely forgot about that episode.
Overall, Coulter's raving attack on soccer is the kind of thing that makes America and the American Right (whatever is left of it) look like a bunch of shrill, clueless, obnoxious loonies. Calling a sport or its fans names is childish and silly. I hope that Ann Coulter, who makes good points on many other issues will not be remembered for her shabby column about soccer.
The late southern chef and humorist, Justin Wilson, when asked what kind of wine would go with a certain dish, would always say, "Da kinda wine you like!" So it is with sports. So it is with a lot of things. If a person likes soccer, fine. If a person doesn't like soccer, fine. I don't understand why anyone would waste any energy hating it or explaining why it should be hated or getting bent out of shape because someone does hate it. I'm a baseball man myself. I have played it. I understand it. It suits my personality. I know it isn't everyone's cup of tea (or glass of wine, I guess) but it's da kinda sport I like.
The important thing to remember is that its a silly sport. Soccer fans are even more guilty than American football fans when it comes to taking a silly sport too seriously. I will second Larry's like of baseball, which is a game rather than a sport, in my estimation. Baseball is infinitely more complicated, cerebral, and interesting than soccer, football, or certainly basketball. There are dozens of scenarios that each player, and the manager, must consider before the next pitch is thrown. The worst thing to happen to baseball, since the designated hitter, happened this past off-season when instant replay was instituted. I never really watched much baseball on television, but I watch significantly less since this abomination began.
I take no credit for the below statement. I saved it from a comment someone made on a previous blog post about soccer years back (I believe on this website). As a fan of the beautiful game, I could not have said it any better myself. Enjoy...
"Soccer is a game made for conservatives: nothing much happens, there is little change, there is great freedom of movement, players regulate themselves to a great degree. Like life, it is largely muddled through, in a direction hard to discern; and suddenly a goal is scored – and life looks completely different now.
Kicking a spherical object around must be one of the most ancient of man’s proto-sporting activities. As our civilization crumbles around us, it is fitting that men return to a game that is played with, beside the ball, no more equipment than what we are born with, and that requires above all the will to endure. "
For better or worse (and I believe it is the latter), it looks like soccer is here to stay in the United States. After several abortive starts (e.g., Pele's playing here at the end of his career), this time interest in soccer appears to be a permanent fixture (fixation?), witness the more than 200,000 Americans who have trekked down to Brazil for the current games. What alarms me is the violence that the introduction of soccer into our country portends. The United States has an ill-deserved world-wide reputation for violence. But until now, with just a few very minor exceptions, our spectator sports have been violence-free both on and off the field. The arrival of soccer with concurrent demographic changes are a heady mix that portends big, big trouble both on and off the field for our country. Let me close by stating that anyone like Coulter who defends Joe McCarthy can't be all bad - a judgement I am sure that Chronicles readers (especially Mr. Girin) will agree with.
This reminds me of a complaint by Bill Kaufman some years back, that Bill Kristol (Irving? Is this different?) "could politicize a Little League Baseball game". I've not read the Coulter essay, or whatever it is. because I could not care less what she thinks or says about soccer (or anything else). Soccer is a great sport. TI prefer rugby, but that's no reason to deny the truth about soccer. The contrary comments here manifestly demonstrate that the writers know nothing about the sport. I've played all of these, plenty. Baseball, basketball, football, and soccer. And rugby, and track, and boxing, and . . . I enjoyed/enjoy playing all of them. And I enjoy watching soccer and rugby (not so much the rest of the "team" list). But I can tell you from plenty of first-hand experience (you can't figure out everything from the Internet or television!) that there are more physical demands, more requisite skills, more strategy, involved in soccer (and especially in rugby) than in all these other team sports combined. Not the tiniest doubt about this. Any of you doubters line up beside or across from any serious-level soccer player and find out. Cube that for rugby, the team sport to which all others must aspire, and which I most love playing. Rugby and cricket were "American sports" before baseball and football and basketball were. Nothing has been gained from the slide here into those more sedentary, effete substitutes. But I'd rather play even any of these lame latter-day substitutes like basketball or baseball than spend any more time reading you guys (or gals) disputing from those keyboard battle stations about the politics somehow supposed to be implicated by any of them! ( I do love reading everything else in Chronicles!) Shut off those computers and strap on some cleats soon! Cheers, fellas!
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