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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  • Dadzilla Jul 2, 11:32 a.m.

    As a completely bald, brocolini eating, sometimes pleated pants wearing, offensive minded baseball and football fan who loves soccer, very well written blog Mr. Gold.

  • johnrmccray Jul 2, 11:41 a.m.

    As a completely bald, brocolini eating, sometimes pleated pants wearing, offensive minded... View More

    — Posted by Dadzilla

    Ha!

    Even Bryson City in Swain County has enough adults to field two soccer teams in an adult league that plays 45 minutes away. That's about .25% of the entire county population. Not just the people who care about soccer, but those who will actually drive 45 minutes to play on a weekly basis.

  • timtimcharoo Jul 2, 11:41 a.m.

    I feel like the lede should have been "ATTN: @starnewsacc"

  • NCCaniac Jul 2, 11:46 a.m.

    Agreed. I think some people feel annoyed when told they "should" like soccer more, but who cares? Everyone should watch what they want to watch and let others do the same.

    I think some of this is the same "hate" directed at local coverage of the Canes. (Why spend this time on hockey, who cares?) These are likely people that only want to talk ACC basketball and football. That's fine, but face it, the Triangle area now has lots of people here who did not group up here and have little or no connection to ACC schools. Having lived here for a number of years, I have learned to enjoy following ACC sports, but I get it when people want more coverage of other sports. Obviously the local schools and teams will get top billing, but the Triangle is a bigger market now with a wider and more diverse set of sports fans. People need to get over that.

  • leecountybrick Jul 2, 11:51 a.m.

    Well-played, Mr. Gold. I was fairly indifferent to soccer (futbol if you will), but found myself thoroughly absorbed by several matches in this year's World Cup, and not just ones involving the USA. I'll keep watching until the champ is crowned.

    But I have to add...Oregon's unis are still hideous.

  • dwntwnboy2 Jul 2, 12:00 p.m.

    Our neighborhood has come together for a lot of the matches. It's been a bonding experience- we watch the games, make food, have drinks, then at half time go out and the kids kick the soccer ball around with their dads and the other neighbors. We even have a big neighborhood party planned for the World Cup final- even though USA won't be there, we'll be watching anyhow. Love to see soccer becoming more popular. I started watching because there are no commercials- unlike american football with it's thrills in 45 second spurts. Still watch plenty of the "normal" sports, but glad to see soccer getting some airtime as well.

  • tdouble232323 Jul 2, 12:16 p.m.

    Good article AG. I do think you left out one group that deserves at least a little ridicule. That is the overly defensive, scarf wearing US soccer fan who turns their collective noses up at the futbol novices. I will also say, if you are looking for good entertainment go check out a Railhawks game. I was thoroughly impressed with their game-day experience. You can tailgate, have plenty of room and enjoy high quality soccer. Give it a chance you knuckle dragging Americans, you might be missing out, I found out I was.

  • agold Jul 2, 12:59 p.m.

    TD, LOVE the Railhawks gameday experience! Love it. Hopefully getting out there on the 9th for USOpen QF.

  • poohpiglet69 Jul 2, 12:59 p.m.

    I'm not a soccer fan at all, but caught part of the game while eating at a local restaurant. Couldn't stop watching - now I just have to learn the rules so I can understand it.

  • Hammerhead Jul 2, 1:01 p.m.

    Good article AG. I do think you left out one group that deserves at least a little ridicule.... View More

    — Posted by tdouble232323

    Not trying to be a jurk, but I never run into those people and I spend time at pubs where soccer is a fairly big deal.

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