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July 4, 2010 6:53 PM   Subscribe

World Cup is it over yet? 'cuz this is not going to end well.
posted by HuronBob (69 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thank you HurobBob. Now come and mop up this puddle by the side of my computer...
posted by HarrysDad at 7:04 PM on July 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wheat thins?
posted by koeselitz at 7:07 PM on July 4, 2010


"What you looking at!"
posted by New England Cultist at 7:07 PM on July 4, 2010


I'm getting: 'a potentially unsafe operation from rmd.atdmt.com'
What's that?
posted by unliteral at 7:18 PM on July 4, 2010


Those are some terrible South African accents, and it's not a particularly difficult accent to do.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:24 PM on July 4, 2010


I liked it. I would have enjoyed it more if they had somehow gotten the fans into the spoof, but I'm not sure how they could have worked them in.
posted by misha at 7:42 PM on July 4, 2010


Cute. You Americans like football yet?
posted by monospace at 9:01 PM on July 4, 2010


monospace: "Cute. You Americans like football yet?"

I don't like soccer or football.
posted by MrLint at 9:22 PM on July 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


"They fake like they're hurt. I don't trust them"
posted by batou_ at 9:23 PM on July 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Cute. You Americans like football yet?

Of course we like it. Just like we like figure skating, gymnastics, or luge. Fervently and fanatically every 4 years, and then not at all the rest of the time.
posted by explosion at 10:04 PM on July 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Cute. You Americans like football yet?

I love foosball!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:28 PM on July 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I only like it in Subbuteo form.
posted by fleacircus at 11:12 PM on July 4, 2010


I laughed multiple times, but I also watched it with the sound off, listening to late-90s rave music. I'm not sure which one was making me laugh. There was also the bad mustache factor.
posted by mannequito at 11:39 PM on July 4, 2010


Cute. You Americans like football yet?

Speaking for myself, and at the risk of appearing provincial and unworldly: Soccer is boring! Months pass with no goals scored, while the tiny, distant players exhaust themselves laboriously and endlessly controlling a round rolling white thing with their feet. Now the ball is here. Now this guy kicks it to that guy and it's over there for a while. Now that guy kicks it back over here and these guys have it again for a while.

That the spectators manage to work themselves into a frenzy over this is just baffling.
posted by longsleeves at 11:54 PM on July 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


John Oliver outdid himself on the topic of SA's hosting of the World Cup. Zany madcap approach notwithstanding, it's a destroyingly effective piece of editorial journalism.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:02 AM on July 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


That the spectators manage to work themselves into a frenzy over this is just baffling.

Do you like baseball, longsleeves? The only analogy I can make is that every evenly matched football/soccer game (you pick) is like a pitcher's duel. The kind of game that doesn't depend of the spectacle of the home run, just endurance, tenacity, and the kind of athletic mind that can take advantage of the tiniest chink in the enemy's armour. The intensity just ratchets up, higher and higher, as the clock runs its inevitable course. This is especially true with good teams, or teams you just want to see win: I've watched a lot of WC games this year, and Ghana/Uruguay was one of the most nail-bitingly impassioned game-watching experiences I've ever had, with any sport. I was in a bar full of people who couldn't have cared less about the outcome ("Not my country, mate") but by the end of it, every single patron was yelling their fool head off. It was a blast, and I'm sorry you can't participate.

George_Spiggott: Sorry, but videos are not currently available in my country.

Transcript? Mirror? I'd even settle for a synopsis.
posted by Chichibio at 12:37 AM on July 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Forgot to mention that my team in the aforementioned match was Ghana, and that it was an excruciating loss. Here's hilarious Spanish commentary on the worst moment of the game (YT, handheld, from the TV, but still.)
posted by Chichibio at 12:43 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Football" vs. football? In a nutshell: Your favourite sport sucks.

Everyone's favourite sport sucks.
posted by WalterMitty at 1:17 AM on July 5, 2010


Forgot to mention that my team in the aforementioned match was Ghana, and that it was an excruciating loss.

Ghana got robbed. Also - Argentina: neener. I'm hoping for a Netherlands/Germany final.
posted by New England Cultist at 1:18 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Walter, your wife is calling you.
posted by Chichibio at 1:19 AM on July 5, 2010


Sorry, Chichibio, I meant to warn that it's a U.S.-only feed. It focuses on the many ways the African systematically excluded from participation at least in an economic sense from participation in the event. For example, local vendors, accustomed to being able to sell food and other items at or at least near football matches were banned from operating within 1 kilometer of the venue. Lots of shots of McDonalds and CocaCola logos.

Key quotes (paraphrased): "Well, after all, what could be more traditionally African than oppressing black people?" and "That's not to say that the games have not provided lots of local employment; for example, these security personnel [shots of security guards covering the camera lenses with their hands, escorting the camera crews away from the street vendors and impounding their equipment] who were there to prevent the locals from being exploited by having their views heard."

In one street interview (presumably taken before the security people got there) someone is talking about the billions of dollars the government spent on an event that's surrounded by people who need things like hospitals and decent shelter.

And when the World Cup Committee chairman started extolling the virtues of the Vuvuzela, Oliver agreed and spent the next few minutes blowing one into the chairman's face while he was tryint to talk, and the chairman having to pretend he found it funny and charming rather than, of course, incredibly irritating. But none of that really conveys it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:20 AM on July 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Whoops, left out a few words in the second sentence: "...focuses on the many ways the local African population were systematically excluded..."
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:22 AM on July 5, 2010


Ghana got robbed.

The crazy thing is, they got robbed fair and square. Suarez got the red card, and Gyan blew the penalty.

I liked Argentina because I liked watching Maradona go mental on the sidelines, and a 1978 rematch would have been sweet. That said, Netherlands/Germany could be fun because they despise each other.

Thanks George! I didn't think you'd actually do it, and so well! I laughed, imagining Oliver blasting the chairman; it's like the good ole Ed Helms days. Now if everyone on mefi would post a summary along with their geoblocked links... (and pony?)
posted by Chichibio at 1:30 AM on July 5, 2010


The Ghana-Uruguay game was insane. My girlfriend actually got mad when Suarez did that handball. She thought it was a travesty, a gap in the rules that was being exploited, horrible sportsmanship. I took the stance that it was a smart move. In that situation, of course you do that.

She wasn't having it, and the issue got dropped. But when she saw the fake corner kick in the Brazil-Netherlands game, she laughed and said, "Okay, there's no honor in soccer."
posted by fleacircus at 1:32 AM on July 5, 2010


In the politeest way possible can I just say that the only people who really care if the US gets into football / soccer are FIFA and a bunch of journalists. I really couldn't care less if the game takes off in the states or dies a slow death like last time. I'd be very happy if you did get into it because then you'd have something in common with someone in a bar anywhere in the world, and I think it's a great game and you'd like it.

But beyond that I'm really not bothered if you do or you don't, I mean, it's not like we're short of other countries to play...
posted by ciderwoman at 3:29 AM on July 5, 2010


well that was totally meh. The accents (such as they were) were appalling and I still am not shure where the comedy got to.

Some Interesting, and Appalling Facts Related to World Cup 2010.

Yes, I love football, and stuff like this hurts.

@Ciderwoman - you are obviously bothered enough to write a barbed comment.
posted by marienbad at 4:01 AM on July 5, 2010


My girlfriend actually got mad when Suarez did that handball. She thought it was a travesty, a gap in the rules that was being exploited, horrible sportsmanship.

I agree with her, to be honest. Obviously Gyan shouldn't have missed his penalty, but it still made it a horrible way to win the match. I also think there's a qualitative difference between that and the trick corner in Netherlands-Brazil - in that case, the Dutch were trying to fool the Brazilians while not actually breaking any of the rules, which is maybe a bit unsporting. Suarez intentionally broke the rules to gain an advantage, which is full-on cheating, regardless of whether he was punished for it.

Sorry to be That Guy who harps on about how other sports do it better, but this is one of the many reasons why I think rugby's a better spectator sport. If a defending player does something fairly minor, like putting a hand in the ruck, it will usually result in a penalty against him. If he does it in a position that denies the attacking side a clear try-scoring opportunity, the ref won't send him off, he'll award a try anyway directly under the posts. Much bigger incentive not to do something like that.
posted by ZsigE at 4:59 AM on July 5, 2010


The Ghana-Uruguay game was insane. My girlfriend actually got mad when Suarez did that handball. She thought it was a travesty, a gap in the rules that was being exploited, horrible sportsmanship. I took the stance that it was a smart move. In that situation, of course you do that.

You are both correct. It's a gap in the rules, in that the penalty for the infraction was a worse outcome than the infraction not happening. To me, the clear answer to a DOGSO infraction when the ball is behind the goalkeeper and in front of the goal is that should be an awarded goal, not a penalty kick.

Suarez traded almost certain elimination for probable elimination, and the missed penalty kick turned that into a toss up. Tactically, it was brilliant, and the laws needs to be changed to make that tactic not worth using.

Then of course, he starts bragging about it. FIFA, in its infinite stupidity, then encourages such by not extended the red card ban. If he'd kept quiet about it, then he was just using a hole in the rules cleverly. Bragging about it means there is no sportsmanship at all.

Thus, personally? I hope Uruguay is humiliated on the field in the Semis. If I were in charge of FIFA, he'd been given a three day ban -- that is "No World Cup for you" after that "I'm the hand of god" bullshit.

This is where I like baseball. The Cardinal Sin is showing someone up, and the retribution is quick. That's why you don't generally see the in-your-face bragging in baseball.

You have to step back into the batter's box sometimes. You can be clever, but you don't brag about it, or you will be given a painful walk to 1st base.
posted by eriko at 5:50 AM on July 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


^Some Interesting, and Appalling Facts Related to World Cup 2010.

Yikes, yikes and more yikes, marienbad.
Seriously? A World Cup court? Can they actually do this?
posted by bitteroldman at 6:05 AM on July 5, 2010


@Ciderwoman - you are obviously bothered enough to write a barbed comment.
posted by marienbad at 4:01 AM


I did try and make it clear there was nothing barbed about this comment what so ever. I know several americans who think someone is trying to force a sport they're not interested in down their throats I was merely pointing out that I doubt the majority of football fans worldwide are all that bothered whether the US plays the game or not. As I said, I'd rather you did to give us all something in common and it's a great game, but the way it's portrayed sometimes it looks as if we're all desperate for you to get into it. We're not bothered either way is my suggestion.

Not sure how that's barbed.
posted by ciderwoman at 6:12 AM on July 5, 2010


Cute. You Americans like football yet?

Ugh. Of course we do. It's the number 1 sport in the US.

Do you rest of the world like football yet?
posted by King Bee at 6:41 AM on July 5, 2010


There's just no room left in the US sports market for Soccer. We've got NFL, NBA, NCAA football and basketball, baseball, NHL, NASCAR, golf, tennis and probably more that I can't think of right now. Where would Soccer fit in will all that?
posted by octothorpe at 6:51 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's why you don't generally see the in-your-face bragging in baseball.

You're fuckin out!
posted by Kirk Grim at 7:44 AM on July 5, 2010


There's just no room left in the US sports market for Soccer. We've got NFL, NBA, NCAA football and basketball, baseball, NHL, NASCAR, golf, tennis and probably more that I can't think of right now. Where would Soccer fit in will all that?

Exactly. It's the same reason women's leagues struggle. Too many sports for a finite viewership.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 8:18 AM on July 5, 2010


There's just no room left in the US sports market for Soccer. We've got NFL, NBA, NCAA football and basketball, baseball, NHL, NASCAR, golf, tennis and probably more that I can't think of right now. Where would Soccer fit in will all that?

It could fit opposite hockey. The sports are similar enough with the goals, passing, and back-and-forth that people would watch it. Baseball's also the only summer spectator (team) sport, so anyone who says "baseball's too boring" might like soccer.
posted by explosion at 8:42 AM on July 5, 2010


> Cute. You Americans like football yet?

I love it to play myself. I care not at all about watching other people play.

As a participant: I played what Americans call "football" from the youngest small-person leagues up through middle school. Then all the other guys my age started getting their adolescent growth spurts and mine didn't show up until I was college age. So I got moved into the little-shrimp sports track, e.g. wrestling, which has weight classes. And, uh, "soccer." I was as I say a shrimp but was not slow or klutzy, and I had an enormous amount of fun charging around the field and dribbling and kicking and yelling and screaming all the way through high school and into college.

As a spectator: all team sports are deadly boring to sit still and just watch except the ones I got emotionally invested in as a young child because my family and the older kids I admired thought they were exciting. The pleasure I now take in following those sports is almost entirely arbitrary in that it might have been anything--Alabama vs. LSU football, or Barcelona vs. Real Madrid fútbol, or jai-alai. Sure there are for-real exciting moments in any team sport that I can appreciate without having been imprinted on that sport like a duckling on its mother. But then I've also seen for-real exciting things happen while watching the grass grow.

PS not to single out world football in particular; I feel the same way about baseball. You're getting up a sandlot game? Sure, I'm in. (I even own a glove, and sure somebody on the other team can borrow it when we're at bat if they don't have one.) Go pay a hundred bucks to watch the Braves play? I'd rather watch the grass grow. Something exciting might happen!

PPS one exception to the no-spectate rule. If I walk past a park and see a soccer-football game going on I do stop and watch for a while because now the sides will be mostly Hispanic with many good players instead of mostly Anglo with only a few. It's pretty jaw-dropping, the degree to which the rising Hispanic population in this area has cranked up the quality of (what I will live and die calling) soccer. Thanks for that, guys. I realize now how lucky I was to have played before this took place. If I were trying to play schoolboy soccer now I would warm the bench.
posted by jfuller at 8:57 AM on July 5, 2010


Where would Soccer fit in will all that?

In the MLS?
posted by ob at 9:00 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cute. You Americans like football yet?

I can't remember where I first saw the argument proposed, but it has been offered that the reason us 'Murricans don't like the foot game is that we like high scoring games.

Footie is a game of denial, of few enough shots on goal, and even fewer successes. The crowd gets worked up with all the near-misses and blocked shots, so that when a goal is finally scored, all that pent up tension is released in a cry of GOOOOOOOOOOOAL!!!!!! (in whatever the appropriate language is).

'Murricans don't want to watch a game with a score of 1-0. We want 104-98 basketball games and 35-13 'Murrican football games.

The ongoing near-miss tension of the foot-game has also been correlated with the crowd violence that is associated with Footie hooliganism. Interesting theory, that.

Also, my favorite vuvuzela fail.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:21 AM on July 5, 2010


> There's just no room left in the US sports market for Soccer. We've got NFL, NBA, NCAA football and basketball, baseball, NHL, NASCAR, golf, tennis and probably more that I can't think of right now. Where would Soccer fit in will all that?

As the most beautiful game.

One of the things that makes football soccer so beautiful is in the simplicity of its concept. Although the rules for the professional game are defined, the game as it is casually played reduces to simply hitting something around with your foot. Pelé, regarded as the greatest player of all time, spent his childhood playing with newspaper stuffed in a sock. Children the world over just need a patch of grass/concrete/mud and a jumper or two to start a game. You can have a fantastic game with just three people.

Another beauty of the game is its equality. You don't need to be super tall (Maradona: 5'5") and you don't need to be of a gargantuan weight or muscular physique (Peter Crouch: superskinny). Players come from every ethnic background. You don't need wealth, and it's rarely helped. No, success boils down to fitness, talent, personality, teamwork and psychology. Perhaps the one exception is the goalkeeper, who is in general very tall (although the Mexican keeper at this world cup was under 5'8").

Now let's look at American sports. They tend to require highly specialised facilities, most inelegantly ice-hockey which requires an often unnatural climate in an indoor stadium (Dallas Stars, for instance). NFL players wear extravagant protective gear and clothing and play in (I believe) incredibly specific positions. Even basketball, a simple sport, requires a complicated scoring area (the net) and a bouncy ball/sturdy surface combination. Do I need mention NASCAR? The third-smallest NBA player in 2006 was 5'10", with an average league height of 6'7"(source). The average 'offensive tackle' player in the NFL was over 300 pounds, again in 2006 (source). These people are outliers.

Now, in all seriousness I don't hold out any hope for the game catching on in the states. It's popularity has generally come from the working classes as a form of expression, but due to the historically unprecedented and totally obscene obesity–poverty correlation that now exists in the US, this won't be happening any time soon.
posted by stepheno at 9:27 AM on July 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


'Murricans don't want to watch a game with a score of 1-0. We want 104-98 basketball games and 35-13 'Murrican football games.

Go to any sports bar in my town during a Penguin's game and tell me that Americans don't like low scoring games.

I really don't think that there's anything essentially wrong with soccer that needs to be fixed so that Americans will love it; I just think that it's last in line behind a whole lot of other games that we're more familiar with. I grew up with (American) football, baseball, basketball and hockey and forty some years later, that's what I still pay attention to. My local baseball team has the longest season losing streak of any team in the history of American sports but they still get an average of 20,000 people to buy tickets every game. People here like baseball, even bad baseball. Likewise football, hockey and basketball, soccer not so much. I really don't think that's going to change.
posted by octothorpe at 9:38 AM on July 5, 2010


'Murricans don't want to watch a game with a score of 1-0. We want 104-98 basketball games and 35-13 'Murrican football games.

The enduring popularity of baseball in America totally dismantles this line of argument. Sure, you get the odd 11-9 outlier, but the 2-1 pitcher's duel or 4-1 yawner with a single lively inning is just as common.

I think I'm a pretty typical baseball fan. I love baseball because I was raised playing and watching it. I'm Canadian but lived in the US for 3 yrs as a little kid and my dad was a rabid Expos fan, poor guy. We once organized the whole family's summer holiday around following the Expos up the California coast. Met Tim Wallach's parents along the way, and nearly froze to death in an extra-innings marathon at Candlestick, because we were dumb tourists dressed for Sunny California. But I digress.

I'd argue there aren't enough baseball fans who weren't raised on it to fill a single stadium anywhere on earth. Its rhythms, tensions, and especially its vast mythology are something you absorb over many, many years. A pitcher and batter go back and forth up the count - maybe it starts out 2-0, then the pitcher claws it back to 2-2, a runner in scoring position and the guy on the mound's throwing crazy breaking stuff and the guy at the plate's barely getting enough of them to pull 'em foul into the stands and hang on. Five, six, eight pitches, the barest bit of contact to redirect 'em to the expensive seats next to the dugout. The lifelong baseball fan's on the edge of his seat with each pitch, and to everyone else it just looks like that guy spent 15 minutes whacking foul balls into the stands and who the hell cares?

This, in essence, is why soccer - along with hockey, the other pro sport that obsesses pathetically over winning a mainstream American audience - will likely never be a major sport in the US. It's not part of the fabric of society except in certain rarefied pockets. There's no mythology relevant to Americans. It isn't talked about at the corner store or the pub.

Even people whose kids play it for years never learn their Beckhams from their Beckenbauers. (Hell, even most Americans who could tell you who Beckham is from the tabloid hype wouldn't be able to tell you what position he plays and would likely be stunned to learn the marquee player isn't the one taking it hard to the net. He's known for set-ups and set pieces? What kinda superstar is that?)

I get the sense real footie lovers couldn't give a shit if their game plays in Peoria, which is as it should be. Wish the dipshits bent on ruining the NHL would learn that lesson.
posted by gompa at 10:06 AM on July 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sorry to be That Guy who harps on about how other sports do it better, but this is one of the many reasons why I think rugby's a better spectator sport. If a defending player does something fairly minor, like putting a hand in the ruck, it will usually result in a penalty against him. If he does it in a position that denies the attacking side a clear try-scoring opportunity, the ref won't send him off, he'll award a try anyway directly under the posts.

Unless you're Richie McCaw.

Also, it does make it so infuriating when one player consistently infringes. Looking at you, James Haskell in the last 6 Nations campaign. I saw you on TV, with your hands in the ruck. So did the ref.
posted by djgh at 10:12 AM on July 5, 2010


Now let's look at American sports. They tend to require highly specialised facilities, most inelegantly ice-hockey

"Ice hockey" is a Canadian sport. It defines Canada. Hockey in the US is niche sport akin to women's golf as popularity goes.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:18 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Care to explain how why and when did Ghana get "robbed"?
posted by L'OM at 10:28 AM on July 5, 2010


I adore both (American) football and soccer, and find baseball deadly boring to watch. Soccer is constant action, even if the scores are low, whereas most of baseball is spent waiting for something to happen, and there are series after series of games so that one single game amongst them all seems to lose all its importance (to me, at least).

I also can't stand basketball, which is arguably all action as well, since people are routinely fouled to give the other team an advantage and force foul throws on the least accomplished. Any sport which gives an advantage to the one fouling bothers me; I have some concept of sportsmanship.

The idea that there is no room for soccer is ridiculous. I could get behind no vuvuzelas, though.

My husband and I do support the introduction of goal line technology (seriously, FIFA, that's a no-brainer and should already be in place), and we think that although replays are not allowed in-game (with good reason, as they stop the flow of the game), fines should be allowed after the fact. If someone clearly takes a dive, fine him. Fouls someone and gets away with it? Fine. Brags about sticking up his hand and deflecting a well-earned goal? MASSIVE fine. Make the players think twice about the antics that are mucking up the game for the fans.

Have I now lost my claim to American citizenship?
posted by misha at 11:11 AM on July 5, 2010


Over the 10+ years I've been living in the US I've come to the conclusion that Americans don't like football (or as they call it: "soccer") not because of low scoring but because Americans generally prefer team sports with a high degree of quantification. There may not be high scoring in baseball but the game can be chopped up into a myriad of short distinct and sharply delineated events. Americans have a hard time enjoying anything that flows through extended periods of unquantifiable murky states and prefer high frequency stop and go type team sports that easily yield endless statistics and ways of ranking. This also explains the relative unpopularity of Ice Hockey. And before you give me lots of grief about that statement remember that I said: "relative". I think hockey scrapes by because it is fast and frenzied which glosses over the flow-y nature of it. The occasional gratuitous violence also helps.

To put this in terms of faux quantum physics: Americans seem to prefer the discreet particle aspect of the team sports wave function while football or "soccer" fans prefer the wave nature itself, its murky superposition of states and its rare but spectacular breakdown into discreet states (goals and other game stopping events).
Personally, I do enjoy both as I watch American football, ice hockey and proper football ("soccer") but I still prefer the flow of football or "soccer" over all other sports.

On a side note: my company here in LA has put up a bunch of huge TV screens so people can watch the world cup games and I have to say this: Americans have come a long way. The games have proven extremely popular amongst my American coworkers and also among my American friends who watch them at home.

I think the hate and dislike of football in America is on the decline and will soon be limited to fringe type lunatics such as Glenn Beck.

PS: I will always put the word "soccer" into quotes. Because that's not the name of the sport. It's football, dammit. Or, being German, I should say: Fussball!!!!!

Oleee, Ole, Ole, Oleeeee, Super Deutschland, Ole, Oleee!!!!!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:14 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


MLS is the fourth most attended league in the USA. behind NBA, NHL, and NFL. It has a comparable average attendance to the first two, considering that they play about 5 and half times as many games as MLS does: about 16,000 for MLS and 17,000 for the other two. The US Soccer Federation has more total players than everyone except China, more registered players than everyone except Germany. When you consider that there are always more fans than are registered players or, in our case, attending a "low-quality" domestic league, that's pretty good.

It'll never be a majority sport in the USA, if by "majority" you mean "minority that nonethless dominates conversation". In 2008-2009, the English Premier League reported a total attendance of 13.5 million. In a nation of 51 million, that's obviously a huge percentage of the population, even allowing for repeat attendees, and it's the national sport so everyone talks about it. In the same year, MLB reported total attendance figures of 73.4 million. Even with repeat viewers, that's a lot, quite comparable in percentage. No wonder, it's our national sport; even the minor leagues take in more people than almost any other sport.

NBA and NHL? 21.5 million. NFL? 17.4 million. Even if you assumed every single attendee was unique, which is ridiculous, that's only about 7% and 5% respectively of the total population of the USA. That'd be like if 3 million people attended a sport in England and it was still talked about as being the majority or mainstream experience.

So I'd like to lay to rest this antiquated notion that Americans don't like soccer. They do, they like it a lot. They don't like as much as sports that they're actually good at, primarily because they made up the rules, but they do like it just fine. They attend their "paltry" domestic league in about the same numbers as they attend their "superstar" NBA and NHL leagues, they play more than almost everyone, and when "good" teams come to visit, Americans turn out in about the same numbers as at Old Trafford. So you don't have to sniff dismissively about American soccer or shrug and say you don't care whether or not we come to like it. We're already here.
posted by Errant at 11:25 AM on July 5, 2010


Now, in all seriousness I don't hold out any hope for the game catching on in the states.
Despite the growth of men's and women's professional soccer in the United States in the last few decades, by far the largest category of soccer in the United States, at least in terms of participation, is boys and girls youth soccer. Though organized locally by organizations all over the United States, there are three main youth soccer organizations working nationwide through affiliated local associations. The United States Youth Soccer Association boasts over three million players between the ages of five and 19, while American Youth Soccer Organization has more than 300,000 players between the ages of four and 19. Finally, the USL offers a number of youth leagues, including the Super-20 League and the Super Y-League, which have almost 1,000 teams and tens of thousands of players from the ages of 13 to 20. This makes soccer one of the most played sports by children in the United States.
posted by rtha at 11:28 AM on July 5, 2010


"Ice hockey" is a Canadian sport. It defines Canada. Hockey in the US is niche sport akin to women's golf as popularity goes.

That's probably true in the warmer climates, but in colder cities near the border hockey has done alright, and actually American teams outnumbered the Canadian teams even when the NHL just started out. When hockey is big in cities like New York, New Jersey, Buffalo, Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia, and Detroit, it's hardly just a "niche." I think when people make this "niche" argument, they're placing too much weight on the teams in Phoenix or Atlanta or Florida.
posted by Kirk Grim at 11:55 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Heh, a friend of mine pointed out the other day, that if American football gave one point for a touchdown, the scores wouldn't be that much different from soccer.

It's not that Americans don't like soccer. It's that soccer doesn't lend itself to TV well. Advertisers love their 30 second, multimillion dollar spots. That's where the big money comes from, that makes NFL so profitable. Another benefit is that teams have fans nationwide, their audience is huge, and the fans can relocate, but still enjoy watching their teams play.

I think Hairy Lobster said it well. But also, soccer naturally has greater parity than American football. Deep down, this disturbs Joe Six-pack's comfortable notion of American Exceptionalism. So many fans want to win, to be the best in the world, that they simply won't follow a sport where their self-identity is threatened. America can't be the "greatest nation on Earth" if we get beat by countries like Ghana. Therefore, they won't watch soccer, as soccer is not nearly so enjoyable. Too many Americans are fair weather fans.

Thing is, that's one of the things that makes soccer so awesome.
posted by Xoebe at 1:00 PM on July 5, 2010


MLS is the fourth most attended league in the USA. behind NBA, NHL, and NFL.

Major professional league, I guess. Another way of putting it would be:

Total Attendance (millions) / US Sport League
73.4 / MLB
43.5 / NCAA football (FBS + FCS)
27.1 / NCAA basketball
21.5 / NHL
21.4 / NBA
17.5 / NFL
14.5 / NCAA hockey
7.3 / Pacific Coast League (minor league baseball)
5.9 / American Hockey League
3.6 / MLS
1.9 / Arena Football
1.8 / WNBA
posted by fleacircus at 1:30 PM on July 5, 2010


Major professional league, I guess. Another way of putting it would be:

Sure, and developing college soccer is certainly the next big step in the growth of the sport. Football and basketball are undeniably more popular in the USA than soccer is, there's no question about that. But your stats also point to the prevalence of local sport support over anything else, and if we can develop the local infrastructure for college soccer across the country, I think we'll start to see numbers that anyone would consider quite reasonable for soccer attendance.
posted by Errant at 1:56 PM on July 5, 2010


Care to explain how why and when did Ghana get "robbed"?

Sure. Suárez. Handball.

Yes, Ghana missed the resulting penalty. Had there been no handball in the first place, Ghana would have won. I'm getting a little tired of the "but using my hands was instinctual" excuse.
posted by New England Cultist at 2:05 PM on July 5, 2010


"Had there been no handball in the first place, Ghana would have won. I'm getting a little tired of the "but using my hands was instinctual" excuse."

So Ghana should have automatically been given the goal? Nope. Mr. Three Yellows equals a red Graham Poll is wrong on this one.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 2:55 PM on July 5, 2010


Sure, and developing college soccer is certainly the next big step in the growth of the sport.

No no no. College soccer is part of the problem.

Youth academies are part of the solution.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 2:57 PM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's that soccer doesn't lend itself to TV well. Advertisers love their 30 second, multimillion dollar spots. That's where the big money comes from, that makes NFL so profitable.

Blaming advertisers for a sport's unpopularity is putting the cart before the horse. Is that what's also keeping down ultimate, jai-alai, water polo, field hockey, roller derby, indoor soccer, and so on? If it were popular, advertisers would find a way.
posted by fleacircus at 3:00 PM on July 5, 2010


So Ghana should have automatically been given the goal? Nope.

Aw jeez, I need to just shut up on this one but I can't help it.

Everyone knows Suarez got the same penalty anyone gets for a handball. We know. That's the penalty. Ok? A lot of people think it's also the only thing Suarez could do and anyone else would do it in the same position. I have no idea if this is true, and I doubt it, but it doesn't matter anyway.

Ghana "got robbed" out of a win here because, while Suarez did get penalized, that does not change the fact he cheated. He grabbed a ball with his hands that was going in the net. It doesn't cease being cheating just because he got caught and paid the price. If you rob a bank and go to jail and do your time, it doesn't mean you didn't rob the bank at all.

Beyond that, the rule is that you can't handle the ball like that unless you're the keeper. The rule is NOT "a player may choose to violate any of the laws at his discretion in exchange for a penalty". The rules are "don't handle the ball". To do so is cheating and robbing Ghana of a victory. Period.
posted by Kirk Grim at 4:25 PM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aw jeez, I need to just shut up on this one but I can't help it.

That's what I should have said. Eloquence is always appreciated.
posted by New England Cultist at 5:59 PM on July 5, 2010


If that was cheating, then every time someone plays up the effects of a foul, or goes down a little too easily in the penalty box, or risks a yellow card to put a stop to an emerging counter-attack, and all that jazz, all that would be cheating. So that means there are dozens of incidents of cheating in every match, and a huge number of matches are determined by who cheats better.

I think that kind of stuff is mere rules infraction. Manipulating those to your advantage is part of the game, assuming you're playing to win. The word 'cheating' is better reserved for the kinds of things where the proper level of response is on the level of forfeiting a game and being banned for a year. The sort of things that are best called 'cheating' more typically involve violating fairness and usually involve deception, generally going outside the core rules of the game.

It's not all black and white, especially w/r/t soccer, but I just don't think it's very useful or accurate to call that handball "cheating".
posted by fleacircus at 6:39 PM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


No no no. College soccer is part of the problem.

Youth academies are part of the solution.


If you're talking about grooming youth players for a professional career, I agree (although I think they're a pipe dream in the current athletic climate). But if you're talking about growing the domestic audience, which I was, youth academies can't even begin to compare to the local allegiance of college sports. No one's going to turn out to see IMG Soccer Academy vs. Generation Adidas, except for some proud parents and maybe a talent scout or three. Minor league baseball and NCAA make up vast amounts of the sporting viewership in this country, because people have a natural rooting interest in their local college or alma mater, and people follow their favorite players throughout their career. Get college soccer in front of a larger audience, and there will be a larger overall soccer audience in the US.
posted by Errant at 6:40 PM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


At this point, I just can't take anyone condemning Luis Suarez seriously unless you can also point me to a comment of yours on or around June 19th in which you consigned Harry Kewell to the fires of sporting infamy for being a no-good cheating bastard. If you didn't, what's the difference?

I'm sorry the team you wanted to win didn't win. I really am, I like Ghana too, and I'm both proud of and heartbroken for Asamoah Gyan. You want to discuss a rules change, that's totally sensible (if ultimately doomed). You want to talk about someone getting robbed, I'd be happy to discuss Paraguay with you. But unless you're ready to decry every single player who's ever handballed off the line, every single defender who's fouled an attacker out of a clear goal-scoring opportunity, anyone who commits any foul anywhere on the pitch, as a cheater who tarnishes the good name of football, all this condemnation seems a little out of proportion.
posted by Errant at 6:59 PM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


You want to talk about someone getting robbed, I'd be happy to discuss Paraguay with you.

Yea. Paraguay got robbed too.
posted by New England Cultist at 7:29 PM on July 5, 2010


If you didn't, what's the difference?

Didn't see the game, I was at work. Just looked it up.

What's the difference? Seriously?

-it was at the 24 minute mark instead of 120+
-Kewell might have been trying to stop the shot by other means than a volleyball "set". He didn't have his arms extended and the ball went off his shoulder. It might not have been deliberate, which actually is a difference in terms of the penalty. The same penalty was awarded regardless
-Game ended in a draw
-Gyan made the PK
-Ghana moved on

Those of us "condemning Luis Suarez" aren't saying the rules need to be changed and the game needs to be overturned. We're saying neener neener. We're saying Suarez's "save" was bad and he should feel bad and to take any joy out of that win is bullshit. But we get it, soccer's not a game to you. IT'S WAR.
posted by Kirk Grim at 8:20 PM on July 5, 2010


... So that means there are dozens of incidents of cheating in every match, and a huge number of matches are determined by who cheats better.

I understand that this is the opposite of your intended meaning, but honestly, you've just described exactly why I haven't enjoyed watching the World Cup.

That said, stephano's comment made me appreciate the game itself a whole lot more.
posted by juliplease at 8:57 PM on July 5, 2010


It could fit opposite hockey. The sports are similar enough with the goals, passing, and back-and-forth that people would watch it.
posted by explosion at 8:42 AM on July 5


Hey! I resent that! Hockey is not boring and it's not played by a bunch of whining fakers. Watching the worldcup has actually reconciled me with LNH referees, they're miles better than the worldcup ones. ; )
posted by coust at 9:21 PM on July 5, 2010


What's the difference? Seriously?

Yes, seriously. It's a clear goal that only Kewell's arm prevents. That it happens in the 24th minute instead of the 120th is emotionally relevant, I grant you, but it isn't lawfully relevant. Both games ended in a draw.

So the only real difference is that Gyan made the PK in one, therefore "justice was served", and he didn't in the other, therefore "Ghana were robbed". What I'm saying is that this is only intelligible if you believe the goal should stand and that a PK is fine if it ends in a goal, but not otherwise. If that's your stance, and you believe "goaltending" should have some reflection in the laws, I can completely respect that. But if you "aren't saying the rules need to be changed", then I don't understand your position at all. If it's just to say, "hey, that dude is bad and should feel bad", well, ok I guess, but he's not going to and there doesn't seem to be a lot of reason he should do. Although I do wish he wasn't currently running his mouth, that's a better reason to feel bad than anything he did on the field.

But we get it, soccer's not a game to you. IT'S WAR.

Oh, please. If the referee hadn't seen it, I would want Suarez retroactively banned for a clear red-card offense, same as if he'd punched someone and not gotten caught. I think I'm allowed to disagree with you without becoming your favorite football caricature.
posted by Errant at 11:14 PM on July 5, 2010


That said, stephano's comment made me appreciate the game itself a whole lot more.

My take is that it was a couple facts floating in a jug of dumb, but I guess that can still be useful.
posted by fleacircus at 11:25 PM on July 5, 2010


Yes, seriously. It's a clear goal that only Kewell's arm prevents.

The difference there, as I mentioned, is that the intentionality of stopping the ball with an arm/hand in the Kewell example isn't clear. It is a difference; not all handballs are penalized, only deliberate handling. That call could have easily gone either way. It's very much not the same thing.

Now the rest of my reasons weren't about why it's cheating, that should be abundantly clear to anyone with a sense of right and wrong and fair play. It's about why we are remarking on Suarez's "save" rather than Kewell's. Suarez's had far more disastrous consequences and was obviously intentional. Kewell's did not. That's why it stands out. It's not hard, Errant.

BTW, Uruguay won the game in case you were wondering. I honestly can't believe the facetious pedantic arguments coming out in defense of Suarez.
posted by Kirk Grim at 8:32 AM on July 6, 2010


The difference there, as I mentioned, is that the intentionality of stopping the ball with an arm/hand in the Kewell example isn't clear.

You mean, other than Harry Kewell saying it was a handball?

"It's a shame that it happened that way but, if you look at the situation, it's hit my arm, but it wasn't deliberate.

"It's just unfortunate that the ref saw something that probably everyone thought, 'Okay, fair enough, it was a handball, but was it red card?'"

It is a difference; not all handballs are penalized, only deliberate handling.

Yes, which is a yellow card. But handballs which deny clear goal-scoring opportunities are almost always punished regardless of intent and with red cards. That's not hard either, Kirk.

Suarez's had far more disastrous consequences and was obviously intentional. Kewell's did not. That's why it stands out.

That's exactly my point. Why did Suarez's have "disastrous consequences"? Why didn't Kewell's? What is the difference there? We both know it's whether or not Gyan scores his penalty. So, again, if you want to say it should just be a goal without all this mucking about with penalties, that's understandable. But to say they're not the same situation, and I'm speaking here of the infraction and not the stakes which are clearly higher in the Uruguay game, to say they're not the same infraction is ridiculous. So, that you're unwilling to call Harry Kewell a cheater suggests that there is some question over whether or not it's fair to call this infraction cheating.

I have no problem at all if you think Suarez is the biggest asshole on the face of planet football, certainly he's working on claiming that title, but I don't think it's fair to call it cheating. That's what I'm "defending". But fair enough, you think I'm being facetious and pedantic, I think you're being a hypocrite. Shall we just leave off there?
posted by Errant at 2:49 PM on July 6, 2010


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