One of the great paradoxes of American life is that a huge percentage of kids in this country (including yours truly) play organized soccer, but the game’s popularity in this country among adults pales in comparison to baseball and football. There are many competing theories on this, but most of them boil down to the notion that soccer is “foreign.” Tim Joyce at Real Clear Sports examines this phenomenon:
Many have complained about globalization these last 20 years and the harm it does to countries, leading to homogenization and distillation of culture. I fully agree. And I see that happening with the insistence that soccer is the best game, the world’s sport and the plea of “why can’t America embrace it?” and “America is the only major country that ignores soccer.”
For me, I say good that we haven’t embraced it, because we’re different. And exceptional.
First of all, baseball is … well … just better than soccer. Purely subjectively speaking, of course. It’s harder to play and involves far more thought. The nuances and narratives are so much greater than in soccer. I also hold the clichéd view that soccer is often interminably boring and filled with so many complaining players that it makes NBA coaches appear completely submissive to referees.
I tend to agree. Baseball is ours, and we hold on to it fiercely. Once a week football games draw more televisions viewers, but baseball is part of our conscientiousness, certainly in the summer but throughout the year as well.
I am watching World Cup matches, and I’m rooting for the USA to succeed beyond the usual low expectations. The best thing about a soccer tournament played halfway around the world, however, is that the matches are over before the evening baseball schedule begins.