Via Politico and the Daily Rushbo, today he’s saying this, tomorrow he’ll be endorsing the North American Union. And then, before you know it, conservatism will have been defined so far down that even atheists who support gay marriage can sneak inside the tent. Where does it end?
The game was enjoyable, though, wasn’t it? The last 10 minutes of extra time, when the U.S. had a few fair shots at tying it, were electric. And Tim Howard was so rad, he had the Secretary of Defense calling him up today for the obligatory reflected-glory photo op, replete with a soccer ball awkwardly and implausibly in frame for easy visual reference. There’s no shame in enjoying the World Cup. But how do you enjoy the sport when it’s been drained of the manufactured pressures that inflate the drama this month — nationalism, instant elimination, the world’s best players competing in a quadrennial event? How do I go from this to caring how the New York Red Bulls are doing in MLS on any given day? And if the answer is “Watch the Champions League,” how do I get myself to care whether Barcelona beats Bayern Munich or Bayern Munich beats Barcelona?
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says it’s a lost cause:
Is there something fundamentally different about watching soccer that turns people away by the millions? Apparently so. For one thing, there’s a lot of movement but not much action. American audiences see people kicking the ball to a teammate, only to have it intercepted by the other team. A lot. To the average American used to the hustle of basketball, the clash of titans in football, the suspense of the curve ball in baseball, or the thrilling crack of the slapshot in hockey, the endless meandering back and forth across the soccer field looks less like strategy and more like random luck. It lacks drama. Of course, that’s not true at all, but that is certainly the perception.
Why aren’t those millions of youth soccer players since 1974 watching? Perhaps another perception is that it is a kid’s game. Kids get to run around, kick something, and generally wear themselves out to the gratitude of parents. Parents who dutifully and diligently attend their kids’ games don’t seem inclined to tune in to professionals on TV.
Lots of truth to that. He thinks the fact that the games are low-scoring is problematic too, but baseball’s also low-scoring and dominated American sports for decades. The main obstacles, I think, are the “meandering,” the fact that MLS is JV compared to the European leagues, and the sense that any game as old as this that hasn’t taken root in the U.S. yet will never truly be an “American” game. That’s one of the reasons righties were snickering at Chris Hayes’s little soccer lesson yesterday. An evergreen suspicion among soccer skeptics is that soccer evangelists like the sport partly because it’s not an American game, because, a la Hayes, the U.S. can’t assert its dominance willy nilly like it can in, er — remind me again of a sport in which the U.S. routinely asserts its dominance. (Did you watch post-Dream Team Olympics basketball, Chris?) Ah well. I think he meant “in countries like Iraq,” not any sport. There’s a pro-soccer mentality for you.
Two clips for you here, one of the new RINO-in-chief and the other of soccer’s foremost true-conservative critic. (Who’s offering her criticism live from the star-spangled red-state streets of Paris, France.) And here’s the poll Rush mentions showing that soccer fandom is higher, slightly, among self-identified liberals than it is among conservatives. Maybe that’s the Hayes effect at work, i.e. lefties are more internationally-oriented in most things, sports included, but I think there’s a demographic component too. World Cup interest is notably higher among Latinos than it is among blacks and whites and Latinos, of course, tend to identify more often as left than as right. That may be what’s driving the liberal numbers.