Soccer Follow Up with Craig the Wise.

Got a wonderful response from a guy named Craig.  Here is our exchange for you to check out.  Feel free to weigh in.

Zach, I know you may claim to be a soccer fan and all, but how can you honestly say that no one in America gives a shit? Sure, America as a collective might not give a shit, but America as a collective cares more about Perez Hilton getting jacked than the election fraud in Iran.

We exist. When the Czeck Republic absolutely demolished us in 2006, we all broke down. Every time Mexico stars playing dirty against us, we all scream. Tonight, we all celebrate.

Sure, soccer doesn’t appeal to everyone. It has it’s pros and cons, but doesn’t every sport? I could go on at length with the problems in football, basketball, and baseball, but those are all things anyone can see with their own eyes.

Won’t you join us? The fact is, even if you don’t think anyone else gives a shit, Zack, I can tell that you do. We could always use good writers to help give the sport exposure.

And my response:

I appreciate your kind words, though I do not claim to be a soccer fan. I do claim to appreciate its finer qualities, the speed and creativity of the game, and further, the international obsession with it. Unfortunately, I am American. What that means is, while I am glad we won and I admire our rousing victory, I cannot get up for soccer in the United States on a consistent level.

America has not done what it needs to do to make its claim in a sport, that is, to brand it American. Other countries have done so with our sport. Europeans and South Americans have created their own brand of basketball, an invention by our own esteemed Mr. Naismith. It was good enough to knock the US out of the spotlight before we reclaimed it in the last Olympiad. The same can be said of baseball, which the Cubans, Dominicans and especially the Japanese have made their own, and arguably, equaled us in their own right.

What have we done to compete? These wins, like our run to the semis two World Cups ago and our victory today, they do little more than wet our whistle. The reality is, the MLS is an inferior brand that even with the glowing lights of Hollywood, perfect weather, adoring press and 10 million dollar estates, cannot satisfy a David Beckham, a man who already loved this city.

We need to pay our players more, only we won’t unless we win. We will have to keep winning to earn that right. No amount of prose from a simple, fire-starting blogger can change that. Soccer is in many way broccoli in this country and we are children. We know we should eat it. Our parents (the world) want us to eat it. We just think it tastes bad.

I have no doubt if America were so inclined, they could dominate the sport, or in the least, be a perennial powerhouse. We are in all things we set our mind to. In fact, that is the essence of being American. We are the nation that stormed the beaches of Normandy expecting to lose more than would walk away. We are the country that sent Jesse Owens into Berlin to show Hitler how very wrong he was. We are the country that never, ever says die.

Sure, we have made many mistakes. Perhaps our reluctance to appreciate a game so beloved the world over is one of those mistakes, however far be it from me to say whether or not that is true. As a lover of sport and of my country, today made me proud. But I am more fascinated by our lack of fascination.

Maybe lightning will strike twice and we will beat the Brazilians when they inevitably show up. Maybe we will get the definitive win. But we’ll need more than that. We’ll need to replicate it. We’ll need a group of Americans no one believes in, the kind mocked by the soccer media to pick the nation up, put it on its back and carry us to a new age. We’ll need them to remind us what makes us the underdog so good at battling that we became the definitive world power of our time, for better or worse.

Until then, summer will remain baseball season where I celebrate or past time and the game of American fathers and American sons.

Rest assured, Craig, I will keep an open mind.


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