World Cup soccer: Ain’t that a kick?
Soccer’s World Cup is in full swing, with an estimated global television audience of over 1 billion. And although it doesn’t always get the respect it deserves here in the United States, I think I speak for most American sports fans when I say: yawn.
We can’t help it. We gave the whole soccer thing a fair shot, but it just didn’t work out. Remember the North American Soccer League back in the ‘70s? Sure you do. It was a professional league that broadcast games on Saturday afternoons in hopes of getting your average American male interested in soccer. After about 3 minutes of watching, however, your average American male would turn off the TV and leave to go do something more interesting, such as sharpen the blades on his lawn mower.
The league then paid big money to have the international superstar and Brazilian soccer legend Pele; promote the game in the U.S. This impressed American sports fans immensely: (“Hey, Lorraine, isn’t that the guy from ‘Fantasy Island’?”)
Soccer’s diligent promotional efforts have yet to bear fruit. They’ve tried everything, too: indoor soccer, outdoor, a faster-paced Americanized version, even “Gladiator” style soccer, which is exactly like regular soccer except that the losers are eaten by lions. So far nothing has worked.
The sad truth is that the only time the game generates any sort of buzz is when a member of the U.S.A. Women’s World Cup team takes off her shirt after scoring a goal.
Still, they try to shove it down our throats. Every four years we’re told that this is the time when U.S. viewers will finally embrace soccer, and every four years we respond by giving it the same amount of interest we give to a Veg-O-Matic infomercial.
This brainwashing has been going on for some time. I remember back in sixth grade when my P.E. teacher forced us to play soccer every day. He told all of us boys that when we became adults, soccer would be the No. 1 sport in America. Of course, he also told all of us boys that we looked really attractive in our gym shorts, so he was kind of weird.
The point is that the game has yet to catch on in America, which is why Major League Soccer (yes there is such a thing) recently conducted a large-scale focus group to address the issue. Held at a hotel ballroom, a random sample of American males was shown a televised soccer game and asked to comment on the action.
According the study:
54 percent of the respondents had to be woken up.
19 percent wanted to know if they were going to bring out more of the Vienna sausages.
14 percent tried changing the channel.
2 percent were there by mistake after wandering in from the insurance convention next door.
11 percent left the focus group early, mumbling something about having to “sharpen the blades on their lawn mower.”
So that probably wasn’t very helpful. No matter. We all know why soccer isn’t popular in the U.S.A., and there’s really no polite way to say it: Soccer is boring.
The only reason you should ever be caught watching a soccer match is if it’s a local park and you have a direct blood descendant on the field.
And even then you may want to get a DNA test to see if you could get out of going.
Actually, pee-wee league soccer is OK, I guess. It enables the snot-nosed little brats to get some exercise while staying out of your hair for an hour or so. Plus one of the parents usually brings tasty snacks afterward.
Other than that, we should probably ban the sport. Yes, I know: “The rest of the world loves it.” True. But who cares what they think? We could destroy “the rest of the world” in about a half-hour. (I’m not necessarily advocating that right now, I’m just saying.)
I’m also saying that I hope World Cup Soccer fans enjoy the action this year. Heck, if the U.S. team advances, I may even tune in for a part of game.
Then again, my lawn mower blades sure are dull.