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Posted by on Jun 21, 2014 in Sports | 5 comments

Why Americans Dislike Soccer

Daryl Cagle,

Daryl Cagle,

Why Americans Dislike Soccer
By Tom Purcell

“Who the heck cares about a bunch of guys playing footsie with a little ball?”

“Ah, you speak of the World Cup. The fact is billions care. It’s the most-watched sporting event in the world. And the Wall Street Journal reports that Americans are increasingly developing a taste for the sport, at least when their own team is playing.”

“Yeah, well, lots of Americans aren’t tuning in.”

“Perhaps if you knew more about football — what Americans refer to as soccer — you’d understand why so many countries are so passionate about it.”

“You’re going to lecture me, aren’t you?”

“According to, soccer has been played around the world for 3,000 years. Organized soccer dates to England in 1863, when various teams formed an association and began to standardize the rules of the game.”

“How exciting.”

“Each game is referred to as a ‘match.’ A match is comprised of two 45-minute halves. The field is called a ‘pitch.’ And cleats are referred to as ‘boots.'”

“How do the players insult each other? ‘Your mother wears army cleats?'”

“Each football team has 11 players, with 10 on the field and one protecting the goal. Players may use any part of their bodies but their hands and arms. The object is to kick the ball into the other team’s goal. The team with the most goals wins.”

“No kidding? I thought the team that put the most people to sleep was the winner.”

“As a result of the beauty and simplicity of the game — all you need is a ball and a makeshift field and you can play anywhere — the sport’s popularity spread all over the world.”

“Kind of like the bird flu!”

“In 1930, to celebrate its world-wide reach, the World Cup was born. It’s an international competition that takes place every four years. During the three years leading up to the event, teams compete to qualify for 32 World Cup spots.”

“OK, you educated me. But I’d still rather watch third-graders playing badminton.”

“Perhaps you’re uninterested in this sport because you’re angry about America’s poor performance in prior World Cups?”

“They got beat pretty bad in the past, but I hear they have shown some promise this year.”

“I know there are other reasons the sport hasn’t caught on in America. With football, baseball, basketball and hockey, there’s simply no room to fit in another sport.”

“You left out the female roller derby, an American classic.”

“Michael Mandelbaum, author of ‘The Meaning of Sports,’ says a key reason Americans do not embrace soccer is because it is so similar to basketball. Both are simple games that seek to put a ball into a goal. He says it’s not possible for both to prosper in the same place.”

“At least there’s lots of scoring in basketball. And you don’t have to walk as far to get a beer.”

“You raise an interesting point. Mandelbaum says Americans are very results-oriented. We like lots of activity and scoring. There is very little scoring throughout the World Cup event.”

“Yeah, and what’s with the falling down and writhing in pain every two minutes? I’d rather spend five seconds watching an NFL running back pound through a bunch of beefy guys to score six points than spend 90 minutes watching a bunch of skinny, crafty guys moan every time somebody touches them.”

“As an American, then, you prefer force and power and lots of action and results?”

“Now you’re talking. In fact, if the World Cup people wanted more Americans to tune in, they ought to turn their cameras away from the field and point them on the stands.”

“The stands?”

“Yeah, watching a bunch of guys trying to brawl after sucking down a dozen Heinekens is more entertaining that what is happening on the field. Americans would pay good money to see that.”

Editor’s Note: A prior version of this column was distributed by Cagle Cartoons in 2006. If you run this column, this isan excerpt from Tom Purcell’s new book, “Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!” available at

©2014 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood” and “Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!” is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. For info on using this column in your publication or website, contact [email protected] or call (805) 969-2829. Send comments to Tom at [email protected]

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  • Perhaps it’s because I lived in Europe for several years but I love soccer. I haven’t watched or payed attention to NFL football or MLBB baseball for decades. I do follow the NBA and have a seasons ticket to our local major league soccer team.

  • ShannonLeee

    The world championships, european championships, and UEFA champions league are the only games I can watch. I do like watching Bayern Munich play, but only because I have an attachment to Munich.

    So effectively, outside of watching the best players in the world play against each other, I find soccer really boring.

  • slamfu

    I can’t stand soccer. Its the only game I’ve actually played as a child and still was bored with it. They are fantastic athletes, I just can’t see what is at all entertaining about it.

  • Slam says:

    I can’t stand soccer. Its the only game I’ve actually played as a child and still was bored with it.

    I feel pretty much the same about hockey (played as a kid) and football (played two years in high school – left end, whatever the heck that that was). As a Canuck, to say I find hockey boring (well, our women’s team was pretty good though and I DID like that), is almost treasonous.

    But all these soccer games are being covered up here and since there’s not much else on to boob tube, I’ve kind of become intrigued by the game. Especially how some guy can actually “bend” the ball – it actually swerves and goes where he didn’t aim it! Amazing to see.

    My thought is, USians better get used to seeing more soccer everywhere in your country — your immigrants are bringing it with them, as are ours. Open your mind hon, it’s a great game once you get into it. And it’s cheap to play. All you need is a soccer ball and a large empty field to play on. What could be better?

    Our schools up here now have more soccer teams playing than football, hockey and BASEBALL, my truest love. Whodathunk it? Go with the flow Slam — you might get to like it!

  • slamfu

    No thanks, played it competitively for 3 years, I consider giving that a pretty solid shot. I’ll pass on the sport that brought us the 90 minute 0-0 tie 🙂

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