Thursday, June 22, 2006

The World what?

As a strident nationalist, I'm happy with the US' dismal performance in the World Cup. No annoying celebratory images being circulated all over the media, no mawkish SI articles, no enthusiastic predictions of soccer's ascent in the states, none of that. Happily give Ghana the glory--they want it and we do not.

Why don't we want it? Soccer is simply too drab for 21st Century America.

The game doesn't lend itself to copious stat keeping. Games played? Goals? Assists? What else is there to keep track of? When goals are all you have to go on, and the top scorer in MLS puts in a whopping 17 goals for the entire season, the idea of a Fantasy Soccer League seems pretty lame. Player comparisons are grossly qualitative, so the market for analysis is much less dynamic and sophisticated than for MLB or the NFL.

SportsCenter highlights include the two goals Ghana scores and the single goal the US put in. That's about it. The other eighty-nine minutes and thirty seconds are soporific. Leave the tube for half an hour and most of the time you've missed absolutely nothing. The ball's still rolling around somewhere near midfield, and the score's still knotted at goose eggs.

Climatic momentum shifts are only perceivable when goals are scored. There are no big turnovers or fourth down conversions. Possession switches constantly, but unlike basketball, nothing ever comes of it. And the endless stretches of Kent Brockman moaning "Halfback passes to the center. Back to the wing. Back to the center. Center holds it. Holds it (rolls eyes). Holds it ..." are, on average, interrupted by goals less than three times per game.

If you're a checkered-ball booster, however, be patient. The winds are blowing in your direction. The 2006 World Cup will help prolong soccer's diminutive status in the US, although immigration trends continue to steadily bolster its prescence here:
The US focuses on advertising globally since the World Cup typically evokes little excitement domestically, according to ICOM. Only one market segment in the United States veers drastically from that trend—the Hispanic community.

Six Latin American teams have spots in the tournament this year (Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Paraguay, Costa Rica, and Mexico), as does Spain. The World Cup brings out an intense following and huge fan base among 42 million Hispanics in the United States. Ironically, four out of the six Spanish-speaking World Cup countries have fewer people than that.
I'll have to start including the dilution of good sport in my litany of complaints against our immigration inanity.



Unlisted said...

You know one of the things that gets to me, as an American sports fan (and non-soccer fan) is how soccer fans always tell us how the World Cup is bigger than the Super Bowl.

Let's look at it.

World Cup = several NATIONAL teams in a month long tournament that gets a large audience

Superbowl = A single game played between two AMERICAN cities and gets a large audience.

There is no comparison in my mind

We Americans are also more concerned about our local teams. We would much rather our favorite NBA team to win a title than for USA basketball to win a gold medal. It's not even close.

However, soccer has one thing going for it albeit not on the field: Soccer babes

crush41 said...

Well put. Given the scale, the World Cup's audience isn't especially impressive compared to that of the Superbowl. Looking at tv spot prices is a better estimator of popularity per time of the event.

Heh, concur on the last point, particularly Spain's matches!