April 02, 2006

'American sports are played with the hands. Using your feet is for commies'. : Millions of children grow up in America playing football. But they all give up by the age of 10. Award-winning writer Dave Eggers explains just why his country will never understand the sport they insist on calling soccer.

posted by the red terror to soccer at 01:43 PM - 21 comments

[Excerpt] "The second and greatest, by far, obstacle to the popularity of the World Cup, and of professional soccer in general, is the element of diving. Americans may generally be arrogant, but there is one stance I stand behind, and that is the intense loathing of penalty-fakers. There are few examples of American sports where diving is part of the game, much less accepted as such. Things are too complicated and dangerous in American football to do much faking. Baseball? It's not possible, really - you can't fake getting hit by a baseball, and it's impossible to fake catching one. The only one of the big three sports that has a dive factor is basketball, where players can and do occasionally exaggerate a foul against them, but get this: the biggest diver in the NBA is not an American at all. He's Argentinian! (Manu Ginobili, a phony to end all phonies, but otherwise a very good player.) "But diving in soccer is a problem. It is essentially a combination of acting, lying, begging and cheating, an unappealing mix. The theatricality of diving is distasteful, as is the slow-motion way the chicanery unfolds."

posted by the red terror at 01:45 PM on April 02, 2006

interesting point towards the worlds game.

posted by stevenrb100 at 03:00 PM on April 02, 2006

Good post. Tongue firmly inserted in cheek. Although I have read funnier and/or more insightful stuff elsewhere.

posted by owlhouse at 06:07 PM on April 02, 2006

how can you call the super bowl a true world championship, when they don't play the rest of the world. Don't get me wrong I grew up idolizing ed "to tall" Jones. I wanted to crush the quarter back with earth moving tackles. But not until I saw my first soccer game did i realize how physical it was. I have seen more broken bones in youth soccer than I ever have watching football for thirty six years. and talk about being in shape, a high school football player plays 15 minute quarters with time outs and pauses for moving the chain. a 12 yo soccer player runs for thirty minutes with no time outs, the only pause they get is if some one gets hurt. and they have more injurys per game than any two football players put together. now talk about diving, Football players do so much whining about he grabbed and held me, he hit me after five yards its ridiculous. shut up and play, let the officials make the calls and you play the game. after all thats what your getting paid millions of dollars for right.

posted by rmiller8171 at 08:06 PM on April 02, 2006

I have seen more broken bones in youth soccer than I ever have watching football for thirty six years. Soccer may have 'more' injuries (I've read stats going both ways), but football is far more dangerous than soccer.

posted by justgary at 08:23 PM on April 02, 2006

I was ready to hate the article, but loved it. The first point went a bit too far...while soccer was the biggest, best organized, most enjoyable option as a child, it wasn't a McCarthyesque gym teacher that led me astray - it was A) rising to the level of my incompetence and B) in high school having to make a seasonal choice between soccer and baseball (guess which won?) that finally ended my soccer career. But point two couldn't be righter. I loathe the diving and I loathe Ginobli (follow the link). That weak-ass flailing and moaning and writhing bullshit is anathema to the spirit and competition of all game, and makes you look like a fucking pussy if you are a practictitioner of it, and if there's one thing Americans hate, it's that kind of pussy.

posted by vito90 at 09:06 PM on April 02, 2006

Vlade Divac isn't a bad diver either. I'm American and I love soccer. I'm going to see the world cup this summer: USA vs Ghana

posted by autzenrocker123 at 10:27 PM on April 02, 2006

If you seriously think soccer is in any way more physical than football, then you are an idiot. If you think soccer players do less whining than football players, then you have never watched a game of either sport, and are an idiot as well. 12 year olds run non-stop no matter what, and vaguely purposeful jogging constitutes most of the "running" in soccer. Don't get me wrong, soccer is by far the more demanding sport endurance-wise, but to suggest that football players are less physical is completely dumb.

posted by fatfryar at 11:48 PM on April 02, 2006

Yeah, well, I don't understand why any country would prefer cricket to baseball. So we're even. Not.

posted by L.N. Smithee at 12:48 AM on April 03, 2006

I would say Rugby is the most dangerous team sport to play in regards to violence resulting in potential injuries, then both football and soccer being second, and then hockey third...aside from that opinion, I prefer soccer as a sport because it allows each individual the freedom to make his or her decision in what action to take on the field of play once in possession of the ball. I don't like the idea of playing a sport where my actions are already pre-determined by the coach, like in Football...its like putting on a costume of a chess piece, and then sitting there on a chess board square, waiting for my master to move me at his whim, and having no say as to wherer I will be placed... Having a short experience in training and playing with a college football team during a pre-season program, I must state that I have the outmost respect for each football player, because they go through some intense training, only to have a knee injury during a friendly game...putting such hard work into a game where you have to play someone else's game, is a shame, and in some terms, a waste of one's efforts...unless you sign a contract with a pro football team, then maybe all that pain, agony, and lack of freedom to play the game for yourself, is paid off...otherwise, soccer for me, rules. Now, in reference to the element of diving in the game of soccer...personally, in my 36 of playing soccer, I never faked a dive...I always played the game to win by playing my heart out, and my aim was to win by the game by virtue of my skills, my cleverness in game play, alway trying to outwit my opponent, and anticipate the next move of my oppoenent, etc...I never planned to fake a dive, that to me is a coward's way of gaining advantage, and it does not belong in the game...and I believe there is present activity to outlaw the element of diving, if not heavily penalized, and hopefully eliminated. I have played the following organized team sports; baseball, softball, hockey, basketball, football, and of course soccer. And I respect all athletes, of all sports, because each sport has something unique to offer to the athlete. But overall, I prefer soccer, to me soccer is the most creative and athletically challenging, and what is most important, the skill level today has tremendous room for improvement, hence making the future of the game even more entertaining.

posted by phason at 02:50 AM on April 03, 2006

Hey rmiller8171, as far as the Super Bowl being a world championship goes ...I'd love to see the Rhine Fire take on the Steelers next year..... cmon

posted by Sprdave32 at 05:47 AM on April 03, 2006

In response to the idea that you can't take a dive in american sports i'd say thats very wrong. kickers do it all the time, oftenleading to second chances that cost the other team the game. and to say that you can't fake catching a ball, maybe you need to play/watch more baseball. it's called trapping, and im damn well sure theres a handful of players who have faked a catch knowing full well all they did was trap it. should i go back to football and mention WR begging refs for calls on pass interference? maybe you should watch a game of aussie rules football to see the shit those guys go through to get the ball, and you wont say "american sports dont allow divers"

posted by SleepingChicken at 07:20 AM on April 03, 2006

Yeah, I don't buy the diving thing either. Batters also pretend that they get hit by balls. I do think that a lot of kids leave soccer because of the length of the season. In high school, you could pretty much do soccer and nothing else. The other sports had shorter seasons, which allowed participation in both fall and spring sports. And, I definitely agree that it would take the U.S. somehow winning or being dominating for Americans to get interested in soccer. We like to be better than everyone else.

posted by bperk at 10:21 AM on April 03, 2006

There is a fine line between diving and cheating. American sports and sportsmen embrace cheating whole-heartedly. It's a big part of competition, and we can all think of numerous examples to support it. But diving is considered outrageously bad for some reason. It think it comes down to the macho-bullshit debate: Diving is emasculating in the American sense, whereas stand-up cheating is manly (American's national pastime has a long and storied tradition of cheating. It's practically woven into the fabric of its history). Frankly, it's just splitting hairs (or just out and out bullshit - there is plenty of diving in basketball, hockey and football) as far as I'm concerned - but there does seem to be a specific distinction.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:27 AM on April 03, 2006

how can you call the super bowl a true world championship, when they don't play the rest of the world. Exactly who would you suggest they play? CFL's top team might be able to beat the bottom teams in a division but that's only a maybe. No team outside the US can compete with the NFL play off teams and most of the non playoff teams either.

posted by scottypup at 11:19 AM on April 03, 2006

how can you call the super bowl a true world championship, when they don't play the rest of the world. The European football league is a feeder system for the NFL. Therefore, by design, it is going to be inferior than the NFL. If you were good enough to make the NFL, you wouldn't be playing in the European league. The CFL, while independent of the NFL, is well known for being a league of a different design than the NFL. It uses less downs, more passing, more kicking and smaller players (on a larger field). Since a large portion of the CFL players are either failed NFL players or players in need of more training before being picked up by the NFL (or never even being drafted by the NFL), then it too is probably an inferior league. On any given day, I suspect that a European football team or a CFL team might beat an NFL team, but in a 16 game season, I suspect they'd probably go 2-14 or 3-13.

posted by grum@work at 11:35 AM on April 03, 2006

Hey rmiller8171, as far as the Super Bowl being a world championship goes ...I'd love to see the Rhine Fire take on the Steelers next year..... cmon You kind of made your own point there, sprdave. Very few people outside America want to play our version of football and even fewer want to watch it. So the point is, why call yourself a "World Champion" when very few outside your own country play the game? Isn't "Super Bowl Champ" a big enough title? Do our sports teams in America have to be "Champions of the World"? Anyway... Good story. Soccer is great. Divers suck. Can't wait for June. I think there's a Beach Boys song in there somewhere.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 01:05 PM on April 03, 2006

Do our sports teams in America have to be "Champions of the World"? Of course, a great many Americans like to feel superior to everyone else in the world. It's part of the American charm, isn't it?

posted by bperk at 01:28 PM on April 03, 2006

Why are we dicussing the Super Bowl, here? I think the point that will stick with me in this article is the one he makes about diving. I agree there is diving in other North American sports, but it's openly frowned upon, whereas diving seems to be a defining part of soccer's culture. Hell, I've seen kids diving in pick-up games, when there's not even a referee to dive for. They're just imitating futbol's big boys. That's never going to fly in North America (think Don Cherry).

posted by qbert72 at 01:59 PM on April 03, 2006

On any given day, I suspect that a European football team or a CFL team might beat an NFL team, but in a 16 game season, I suspect they'd probably go 2-14 or 3-13. I think that is a good analogy grum, and it doesn't apply to just football, but most sports as well. While the Detroit Tigers can beat any team in the MLB on any given day, they are not going to win the World Series because they are not good enough to be consistant.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 02:03 PM on April 03, 2006

uhm...Americans are arrogant as hell. They don't understand that soccer is a popular sport and that just because their precious football sport is not played anywhere else they can't get over that. Football, I mean why is it even called that anyways. They hardly ever use their feet except for punts and field goals. They stole the name from original football. Football (soccer for all you people who are too stupid to realize that that is what i am talking about) is played around the world and is a great sport to watch and play and "No team sport approaches soccer’s [football’s] popularity" (www.soccernova.com). so there ya go. americans, and by saying this i must say i am american, but seriously get over yourselves. there are more countries out there than just us and most countries hate us and this is the reason. we are arrogant little cry babies.

posted by crazy4soccer at 12:54 PM on April 14, 2006

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