Adam Gold

Hating on the haters

Posted July 2, 2014
Updated July 28, 2014

Soccer - Generic graphic

"Now that the United States is out of the World Cup can we go back to not caring about soccer?" -- anonymous

This sentiment has been pervasive throughout the sports media world since Belgium knocked our team of young, German-born, future stars out of the tournament. I don't want to assign the phrase "majority opinion" to the notion that we can now finally return to our regularly-scheduled (not American) football-free existence but there are a number of things that conspire to cause people to react in this manner that are worth exploring.

First off, I feel depressed and excited, empty and full of hope all at the same time. Tuesday's loss to Belgium was the end of this World Cup – one that head coach Jurgen Klinsmann told us months ago that we were not ready to win – but it was really the beginning of the next era of the United States Men's National Team (USMNT). While we're likely saying goodbye to known American stars like forward Clint Dempsey and goalkeeper Tim Howard, who yesterday recorded more saves in a single world cup match than anyone had in a half century, we also got a glimpse of what's to come when 19-year old Julian Green scored on the first touch of his World Cup career, bringing the USA within a goal and giving us even a glimmer of hope that the evening would end with a favorable result.

Alas, it was not meant to be. Belgium was significantly better than we were. Belgium is significantly better than we are at this stage of the Klinsmann era. Bigger, faster, stronger, better, yadda, yadda, yadda. The Red Devils deserved to press on and we should all wish them well against Argentina on Saturday. The Americans will regroup, look ahead to 2018 in Russia and continue to develop Green, Jozy Altidore, Fabian Johnson, John Brooks, Timmy Chandler, Mix Diskerud and Aron Johansson into future international football stars. Of that group, only Altidore wasn't either born or raised in Europe. And, we're not done with you Michael Bradley. We understand that Altidore's injury impacted Bradley, and Dempsey, more than anyone else, and we're confident that Bradley will wear the yellow arm band in four years.

That's when we'll resume caring about soccer, right?

For those of you who are under the impression that we don't I could cite the historic television ratings in which ESPN drew the largest non-American football audience in their 35 year history. That's right, more than any game of the most recent NBA Finals featuring LeBron James. I could point out that WatchESPN recorded tens of millions of unique visitors, all streaming World Cup matches – and NOT ONLY those involving the United States. Or I could show you pictures from places like Indianapolis, Kansas City, Chicago, Seattle or Dallas, where thousands of fans gathered to watch in stadiums, plazas, and sports bars more than 3,000 miles from the actual games.

But, we don't care about soccer, right?

To those of you holding tightly to that belief, you're not alone. There are hundreds, if not thousands that are in total agreement. And, because this is America, we're allowed to think and feel that way. The reality, however, is that we view everything in sports through the prism of the popularity of the NFL and because of that all other entities pale in comparison. So why the need to shove the sport back into shoe box and stuff it into your closet behind your old baseball cards? All sports fall way short of measuring up to American football, right?

Look, no one is turning the United States into a soccer-frenzied nation.  It will fight for the American sports fan's disposable income along with everything else that isn't the NFL.  And, it was very obvious that our program isn't yet at the level of the top nations in Europe and South America.  But, we do care.  English Premiere League matches on NBC Sports Network draw TV ratings that are at least comparable to those of the national regular season NHL broadcasts without the added benefit of being able to readily attend a game.  Have you seen college basketball television numbers lately?

My guess, however, is that those of you who feel the uncontrollable urge to bury soccer are doing so to make yourselves feel better. You're probably also predisposed to dislike change of any kind. You think there's too much passing in football. You wonder why teams don't sacrifice bunt more often. Oregon's uniforms give you nightmares. Your closet is filled with pleated pants. You think no one can tell you're sporting a combover. You're probably also deathly afraid of broccolini.

What IS that? Can I eat it?

Mostly, those that can't suppress the urge to knock soccer, or anything else that's relatively new and enjoyed by millions of others, are just afraid. Afraid that the world is passing them by as we become more and more in touch globally. Afraid that they won't be able to appear knowledgeable. I mean, they KNOW football, baseball, basketball and maybe even hockey. They can head down to the corner bar and hold court on the finer points of a 3-step drop, or the infield fly rule, but a free versus an indirect kick? Games can end it a tie? No thank you.

I've got news for you, pal. You're not nearly as sports-savvy as you think. Bunting decreases your chances of scoring, throwing the football is exciting and leads to more offense, Oregon's uniforms are cool, pleated pants have been out of style for a decade – except on the Champions Tour in golf – and you're going bald, just deal with it.

Oh, and broccolini, is kind of a hybrid between broccoli and asparagus. Close your eyes, hold your nose and take a bite. Just like you do with soccer. You just might like it.

82 Comments

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  • kirtl Jul 4, 2014

    View quoted thread


    Ridiculous. You cite a poll that asks for favorite sport and use those responses, ones that were not asked if they are interested in soccer, to suggest that that means no one cares about soccer? Why so bitter and negative? How has soccer hurt you that you feel the need to try and pick a fight?

  • rmslawns2 Jul 3, 2014

    Dealing with FIFA is like dealing with the Vatican. They do not accept change or listen to suggestions. Here are some ideas for whatever it is worth:
    Video review panel of three officials in the booth to review penalties called in the box. Either the call stands, a no call is decided and a free kick allowed from the D or a yellow card given to a player that dove to draw the foul.
    Give each team 3 more subs in extra time- unlimited the whole game would be great since some teams travel 10,000 miles during the tournament and others 2,000. That being said, after the groups are picked, try to make the travel equal for teams in the groups.
    Injury time. Is this a secret only the ref knows?? Have a time keeper that keeps up with true time to be added. I do not trust international refs with a whistle if a team like brazil has a late rush and he waits a few more seconds to end it.
    A physical game like the other day helps the sport. Not the teams with drama queens flopping. US fans despise that.

  • JACKSON SAWYER REVENGE Jul 3, 2014

    View quoted thread


    John you sound like a lib-I do not prefer soccer facts are facts-it is what it is!

  • Hammerhead Jul 3, 2014

    View quoted thread


    Pretty much what a lot of us were saying last night in this thread. Appreciate all types of sports, but don't have the time to watch all of them so we have to parse our time out to our favorites, or in this case, world events like the WC or the Olympics.

  • jbengel Jul 3, 2014

    I've never been a soccer fan, not because I hate it, but mainly because I can only fit so much on my plate and soccer wasn't a priority. But that said, I would rather listen to 8 straight hours of World Cup soccer than the 15 minute segment I heard yesterday morning about "Why It's Bad That Johnny Manziel Took A Selfie With Justin Bieber". (No, I'm not making this up... I wish I were.)

  • Hammerhead Jul 3, 2014

    View quoted thread


    Well, that's original.

  • Hammerhead Jul 3, 2014

    View quoted thread


    Why? Nothing compares to College football and the NFL ratings wise.

  • jhilfiker2001 Jul 3, 2014

    At least there is no commercials. That is it. 100 minutes of no scoring is like watching grass grow.

  • jhilfiker2001 Jul 3, 2014

    View quoted thread


    Lets compare it to real football, so we can all laugh.

  • Hammerhead Jul 3, 2014

    View quoted thread


    You're allowed to not care, just like the rest of us do about other sports. By the way, check the TV ratings vs. those for the NBA and MLB.

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