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18 July 2008

Why Do So Many American Football Fans and Sports Writers Hate Soccer?

On the heels of a hugely successful and entertaining Euro 2008 tournament, I'm thinking again about Soccer in America.

It is almost a pastime for some sports writers and hard core gridiron fans to square off against football fans. As it would appear to me that the two sports are entirely different, this zero sum mentality from gridiron fans escapes me. The fact this debate peters along has led me to gather up some thoughts.

Is it not bizarre that of all the sports out there, pure gridiron football fans seem to have an almost pathological aversion to the world game? Is it the sharing of the name? The common ancestor so to speak? Is it rooted in an "us" vs. "them" old American isolationism? There is something there for sure; some animosity I can't seem to put my finger on.

It's not like the two sports competed against each other for time in American high schools - at least not mine - gridiron was an Autumn sport and high school soccer was in Spring. In fact, we had a couple of guys that played both quite well (besides the kickers).

Staying with the high school theme for a moment, I must admit the babes in school consistently went for the soccer players over the gridiron boys. I suppose it's no surprise that cute girls go for fit guys over fat guys. In fact, there could be something there. Perhaps some of the "gridiron soccer hate" may be a remnant of high school angst, grounded in some Freudian slap in the face that builds in to an anti-soccer condition as an adult? Any psychologists reading this out there care to weigh in?

Beyond that, perhaps it's just a generic sports ego thing, derived from conflict through competition. Clearly NFL and NCAA gridiron are the biggest "per event" spectator sports in the US and yet, once every four years, we see how the entire world unites to not only watch, but live a single month long sporting extravaganza.

The World Cup is the Superbowl times 100. It must be a bit humbling for our gridiron brethren. Maybe the knee jerk reaction is to lash out. That being said, it is a rather bizarre response.

I'm hesitant to chalk the soccer hate up to just good old fashioned American myopia. The fear of the unknown on the other side of dark and distant waters. The world is so much smaller now I can't imagine that soccer haters are surprised by the sport which American kids have taken up en masse. On the flip side, I've actually heard soccer haters lash out at the notion that soccer is "being shoved down their collective throats." Anyone watching mainstream American sports media must surely agree those proclamations are made by people on crack rock.

So I'm still left to ponder the source of the hate. But rest assured that on Sunday's this Fall while a lot of Americans will be plopped on the couch, watching NFL and eating fried snickers bars, I'll be watching the world's great leagues in the morning and out on the pitch in the afternoon.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

American football fans and sports writers hate soccer because a lot of them are rednecks. Period.

Anonymous said...

They will tell you that real men don't play soccer. If you watch so called American sports you will find that "the American athletes" have to be subbed out every five minutes because they are not fit. Most baseball players have to bend over when they run from home to second base. Tell me now,who are the real men.

Anonymous said...

I think pro American football players appreciate footballers as athletes - at least the ones who know how to read and realize there's a game outside of the States; I'm not sure why the fans don't.

Anonymous said...

Soccer and American Football were both in the Autumn at my school (thus the enmity) and I think that's the case throughout the middle of the country.

Not sure though...

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of soccer being in the spring in high school. Everywhere I know of they are both in the Fall.

Gruffgoat said...

I didn't realize high school football and soccer competed in so many other parts of the country. I still don't think that's it entirely, and in fact, the number of parents I see pouring money in to soccer would seem to suggest that a lot of that old baggage may be going away. Any thoughts on a tipping point?

Bobbo said...

Is it not bizarre that of all the sports out there, pure gridiron football fans seem to have an almost pathological aversion to the world game?NO. Is it the sharing of the name?NO. The common ancestor so to speak?NO Is it rooted in an "us" vs. "them" old American isolationism?NO. There is something there for sure; some animosity I can't seem to put my finger on it. I think its the other way around Gruffgoat. Its the soccer players who are bitter.Soccer fans just cant get over the fact that football reins supreme in America and its never going to change. Not all football players are fat,dont be mad just because a football player weighs a hundred pounds more then you and could squash you with his pinky and still run faster then you. Then to this guy talking about how American athletes arent tough enough to play soccer and arent real men. Do real men roll around on the ground screaming for their mommy after they get touched? I love football and I love soccer but you guys are sounding like jealous,pathetic little wankers. Don't stereotype all football fans as soccer haters,we just think you guys need to toughen up a little. Red and yellow cards have been changed to pink and purple. FYI-Football fans have no animosity towards soccer fans or players. I think Gruffgoat is just a little too sensative. Cheers

Gruffgoat said...

Bobbo - thanks for the comment - that's the kind of debate I was hoping to spark with this, I thought it might be a bit more constructive, but after re-reading, I did come across sounding pretty damned sanctimonious. I can take my medicine. The "my sport is tougher than your sport" argument is stupid. I don't doubt the toughness of American football players - after all the whole sport centers around colliding with others - pads have served to make people feel that velocity isn't harmful, that's probably a big reason why they need weight. That being said, sadly the average lifespan for an NFL lineman is 52 years, the rest average 55. Pretty pathetic numbers if you ask me - so whether that's obesity or just the absolute destructiveness of the game, I'm not sure. Like I said in my post, the two sports are totally different and I hope you're right and I'm misreading your average tailgater.

Ronn Graham said...

I live in Texas and american football is king, BUT over the last decade the high schools are starting to put alot of talent on the soccer fields due the the athetism and size of players. Not all athletes can play "football" nor "soccer" there is a fit for both. The coaches of high schools are starting to notice and putting the talents were they belong!

http://sportschatterings.blogspot.com/

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