Racist Conservative Soccer Hatred

Jonah has some thoughts on the idiotic notion that conservatives don’t like soccer because they’re racist. I agree with him that most anti-soccer animus is just backlash against “progressive” soccerphilia, much of which derives, I suspect, from a knee-jerk multi-culti worship. It’s not an American sport, therefore it is to be admired. I am indifferent to soccer, but I do enjoy poking fun at it, only because it stirs up the right sort of people:

it seems to me that Zirin is displaying that all too common tendency among leftwingers to assume that if conservatives dissent from liberal affections and priorities, it must be because conservatives are evil. A far more plausible and good faith explanation for the conservative reaction to soccer can be found in the liberal overreaction to soccer. It seems to me that most of the conservatives I know who make a fuss about the World Cup (I should say a “make a negative fuss,” since I know quite a few conservatives who love soccer and the World Cup. I am not one of them.) do so because they are sick of being told how soccer is the future; how it’s elegant and sophisticated and cosmopolitan. As with women’s professional basketball, journalistic and other elites tell the masses they’re supposed to love it – and they just don’t. Moreover they resent being told to “evolve” in their sports tastes. Now, tastes change of course, and soccer will undoubtedly grow in popularity. But being told that all the smart and decent people love something is a sure way to get the Irish up in a lot of Americans. I am willing to concede that some conservatives get carried away in their anti-soccer tirades, usually just for fun, but I’d very much like to see a few more liberals admit that at least some of the soccer-mania here in the states is driven by a faddish desire to seem hip and worldly.

But we know that any disagreement with “liberals” has to be rooted in racism, right?

[Update a while later]

Per some comments, I would note that my sports preference is for a game with strategy and time to contemplate the next move (e.g., football, baseball). I have an extreme dislike for any game with continuous motion with the point of getting a ball/object into the opposing team’s goal. That is, basketball, hockey…and soccer.

41 thoughts on “Racist Conservative Soccer Hatred”

  1. “But we know that any disagreement with “liberals” has to be rooted in racism, right?”

    That is absolutely untrue and demands a retraction.

    It can be sexism or homophobia too.

  2. If you didn’t play soccer as a kid, you probably don’t like watching it. I’ve been playing soccer since I was 3, and I enjoy watching soccer(and I’m a conservative). It has nothing to do w/ politics. If you’ve never played soccer, and don’t understand the rules and intricacies of play, why would you enjoy watching it? My girlfriend doesn’t understand the rules to football, and surprise! doesn’t like football games.

    This isn’t rocket science

  3. I am indifferent to soccer

    If you’re indifferent to soccer, then you’ll love cricket!

  4. On this flip-flop, I’d like to know why so many libruls DO like it. Seems to me there’s a bunch who like it just because they feel/are told they should, because it makes us more “one” with the rest of the world or something.

    I mean, c’mon. There aren’t even cheerleaders! 😉 (D’Oh! I guess Al was right…)

  5. There’s a lot of truth to what Aaron says, but personally, I find the game boring. I rarely watch baseball for the same reason. A game can be elegant and sophisticated but still boring. I can respect the skills of the players but still not enjoy the game.

  6. Very conservative. Grew up playing soccer. Coach soccer. Love soccer. Annoyed by 0-0 ties. Contact sport involving risk, but lots safer than football.

  7. As a long-time soccer player and junkie, I hope soccer doesn’t catch on like other sports in the US – why should we want the egregious greed and me-first attitudes displayed in virtually all other professional sports? Soccer is a true team sport, and egos just get in the way of a successful season.

  8. Soccer is boring. I think it was Jerry Doyle (in his talk show days) who said it was like watching goldfish go back and forth.

    Americans want to watch sports that involve at least one of the following:

    Frequent scoring (basketball)
    High-speed action (basketball, hockey, football)
    Scoring is not frequent, but teams advance their position at regular intervals (baseball, football, NASCAR)

    Soccer doesn’t have any of that.

  9. Soccer may be fine but I hate games that are just batting the ball around endlessly for long periods of time. I love the structure, strategy, and tactics of American football.

    One of the reasons that liberal soccer fans don’t like American football is that so many of the players are poor and Christian.

    Bear Bryant, the famous coach at the University of Alabama did more to break down the racial barriers in our state than all the laws ever pushed by liberals by the simple act of integrating the team there and taking it to multiple national championships. In Alabama in football, there is no black or white, only the Crimson Tide! (well and there is that cow college on the other side of the state but they barely count).

  10. Alan is correct. It also applies to hockey in the lower 48.

    That doesn’t stop y’all from being racists, however. 🙂 Fnord!

  11. Reportedly, (American) football is the most popular game in the country. In the NFL, about 70% of the players are African-Americans with a small percentage of other racial groups represented as well. The same applies at the very popular college level.

    “America’s Pasttime” of baseball has fewer African-Americans today than in the past but substancially higher percentages of players from Latin America and Asia.

    Basketball is a very popular sport and the vast majority of the players are African-Americans.

    Hockey, not so much.

    Anyway, this just goes to show that anyone who claims most Americans don’t like soccer because we’re racists is a certifiable moron. We just don’t care for the game because we find it boring.

  12. I like James Taranto’s name for soccer: “metric football.” Alan, I love Jerry Doyle’s goldfish simile.

    What annoyed me when I tried to play it in school was that we weren’t allowed to use our hands. This is a deliberate denial of one of the things that human beings do.

    I don’t think it will ever catch on here as long as network TV dominates home entertainment. Unless things have changed since the last time I tried to watch a game, there are no predictable pauses for commercial breaks.

    In my darker moments, I wonder whether liberals like soccer because hitting the ball with your head is a standard maneuver that has been known to cause brain damage … thus encouraging liberalism.

  13. “Soccer is a true team sport, and egos just get in the way of a successful season.”

    Yeah that’s why guys like Beckham play for free or pay the teams. Get real please. Football (soccer) players may not get as much from the teams, but they make plenty given worldwide marketing possibilities.

    No NFL / NHL / MLB player can sell sunglasses or Coke in South America or Asia, Beckham can.

    And can’t we just hate soccer because it’s 3 hours of the ball going up and down the turf, with no score. Baseball has a strategy, which can render it slow.
    But throwing the ball PAST a guy with a big stick takes some of that. Not to mention the guy trying to hit said ball.

    There is no strategy to kicking a ball to a guy 80 yds away, so he can kick it to another guy.

    I think soccer will always be relegated to being a kids sport here, the way “rounders” is a girl’s sport in England. And an entire generation and a half of American kids has grown up with soccer, but left it behind with their G.I. Joes and LEGOs.

  14. My theory is that scoring in soccer is almost completely stochastic, with a low probability per unit time. Someone told me the other day that the soccer team that scores first wins 70% of the time. They didn’t know whether most of those games ended 1-0. And of course, ties are very common.

    Because the scoring is random, the probability of one team beating another doesn’t seem to depend much on the size of the talent pool. That’s why a country like Uruguay (pop 3.5 million) can tie a country like France (pop 64 million), 0-0.

    And that’s why the world loves the World Cup. And Americans hate it.

  15. Hmmm…

    I am a soccer fan, a college basketball fan, and, to a lesser extent, a football fan. I don’t follow hockey.

    “And can’t we just hate soccer because it’s 3 hours of the ball going up and down the turf, with no score.”

    Well, the longest matches have 90 minutes. True, a bad one can seem like three hours. I’ve seen some awfully boring basketball and football games as well. But I’ve noticed that with only a few minutes extra of “added time” at the end of each half, the game length hews very closely to 90 minutes + halftime. Notably shorter than baseball or football, and even than most basketball games (at least the ones on TV which include commercials).

    The clock seems to me to be less a factor than in football or basketball, although more a factor than in baseball (or cricket or tennis).

    Aaron is right about understanding the game.

    “Soccer may be fine but I hate games that are just batting the ball around endlessly for long periods of time. I love the structure, strategy, and tactics of American football.”

    That’s definitely the impression one would get from simply watching a game the first time. But as you learn more, you see a flowing game involving many one-on-one confrontations mixed in with complex two and multiple player team interactions.

  16. (hit submit accisdentally…)

    A lot goes on even when scoring doesn’t happen. Soccer leans towards the overly defensive, but a great offense or a great defense can be the definitive factor. Although the scoring is annoyingly low, that contributes to a certain amount of fun unpredictability (Swiss 1, Spain 0). Also the decisive score can come at any time, whereas basketball games tend to be either boring or close and matter only in the last few minutes.

    (American) Football is largely incomprehensible to those who aren’t into it. My wife doesn’t even understand the 10 yards/down thing, and really doesn’t care to learn. Soccer has a similar issue, but is simpler for the casual viewer.

    One nice thing about soccer is it accomodates multiple body types better. Tall players might have a heading advantage, but while soccer players have to be athletic many of the best are fairly average in size. Basketball demands (mostly) height and football demands (mostly) size.

    While heading the ball a lot definitely has risks (it’s against the rule in younger ages in AYSO play), including head-to-head collisions, the injury rate in soccer seems to be much lower than in football, hockey, or basketball.

    Basketball is the sport which was invented in the U.S. and has gained the most worldwide popularity, which probably makes sense. Baseball is loved in Japan, and India goes for Cricket. Rugby is the big thing in some places.

    I sometimes wonder why team handball or some variation hasn’t caught on more. Uses hands, as someone mentions, team sport, a decent amount of scoring, don’t have to be a giant…

    Probably the worst thing soccer has going is the low scoring. I think that’s why some people thought indoor soccer would fly here. Perhaps leagues ought to experiment with season scoring rules that encourage offense at the expense of defense. Or perhaps we should make the goal wider.

  17. I’ve played and loved watching soccer all of my life. I used to be one of those soccer “evangelists” who thought that preaching the good word of soccer to the non-believers was essential. As I’ve grown older, I don’t care if other people like it or not (I just need enough folks to get decent ratings so it is shown on TV).

    Every sport, when broken down to the basic level is pretty stupid when you think about it. Much of the appreciation of any sport comes, as Aaron mentions, with playing that sport and understanding not just the tactics, but appreciating how difficult of an endeavor it is and enjoying seeing it played at its highest levels.

    I think the single biggest problem with the promotion of soccer here in the US is the “Well, the rest of the world loves it, so we should too!” mentality. That is precisely the kind of thinking that makes Americans HATE something.

    And not, I don’t believe that soccer has any real political leaning in this country.

  18. I know the rules, understand the strategy and even know a lot of the World Cup players. Don’t like it, never will.

  19. I’m not surprised, especially since you failed the reading comprehension part. I didn’t mention the rules nor players, but instead said that playing the sport had much to do with the appreciation of it. I understand most of the rules of baseball, know the strategy, and even know many players. I can’t get through more than a few minutes without changing the channel, though. Of course, I’ve never played baseball so I don’t really appreciate a guy running a few yards and catching the ball with a glove.

  20. I tend to think of sports as heroic or cooperative, and flick or flow. A heroic sport is one in which all the action is on one player. Track and field events are pretty much all like this (even relays, which are one runner at a time). Cooperative games are ones in which multiple players work together and the fan’s attention is either shifting faster, or is more diffuse. Some games combine these, such as baseball’s heroic offense and cooperative defense, or American football’s cooperative offensive and defensive lines and heroic ends and backs.

    Flick sports are those where there is a burst of activity and then a downtime. These are more strategic games like football and baseball. Flow sports are those with continuous activity, like soccer, hockey or basketball.

    I tend to like cooperative flow sports, though I also like baseball quite a bit. Others may differ.

  21. I played soccer as a kid till I was about 10. I had a bad problem going off-sides though so I most often played as goalie or occasionally a full back. I was always a head and shoulders above everyone else and my long arms made me a tenacious defender. My Dad is from Chicago and a religious hockey fan. I grew up watching it as a kid and my familiarity with it keeps me interested in what the current season is doing. I’d say that I actually like games with fluid action better than the stop and start kind. Particularly when you are stuck watching a football game between 2 teams that can only run the ball and both have big defenses. 4 and out over and over again can get pretty dull.

    I think what has helped the popularity of one sport over the other is how is translates to television. One of the things that helped the NFL take off was the positioning of the camera such that the 2 sides were on each side of the screen looking straight down the middle of the line of scrimmage. It feels like you are being drawn into the battle in the trenches and since most plays are generally running plays you can see how the ball carrier should run his gaps. With soccer and hockey one needs to actually pay attention more to the players who don’t have the ball or puck. Players are constantly trying to set themselves up to redirect a pass or one time a shot and likewise the defenders are constantly jostling to plug a passing lane or bump a player out of an offensive zone. When you watch it on Television this is usually happening off the screen since the camera man is generally following the guy with the ball. I’ve been with people to watch a hockey game for the first time. They always remark how much of the game you miss while watching on TV and how much more exciting it is in person.

  22. As a life long hockey fan I too thought soccer boring, but that was because I only ever saw World Cup play. It’s more boring than the afore mentioned goldfish. However on a trip to once Great Briton many years ago I saw English Premier League. Holy Moley, there was lots of scoring and they beat the crap out of each other, it was breath taking to watch.
    And I say that as a staunch conservative.

  23. I look at it from the other perspective, why is it so popular? It comes down the fact that it it has the lowest barrier to entry for any popular sport. The only requirements are a spherical ball roughly 70 cm in circumference and an open space to kick it. That would also explain the left’s fetish for it, as it is the sport of the poverty stricken.

    While I can appreciate that it allows children living the most deprived lives a chance to play and have fun imagining that they are scoring the winning goal in the World Cup… like most sports it bores me.

  24. When I was in Austrailia last December, I got to watch some of their version of football along with two different kinds of rugby. I didn’t understand the rules of the games but they were entertaining none the less. Soccer just bores me.

  25. “I’m not surprised, especially since you failed the reading comprehension part. I didn’t mention the rules nor players, but instead said that playing the sport had much to do with the appreciation of it.”

    I couldn’t let this go. I never mentioned your comment. Thank you for proving the old adage about assume.

  26. When I went to school at UNC Chapel Hill (1994-1999), I watched a bit of collegiate woman’s soccer. The UNC team was by a fair amount, the best team in country (and to be honest, probably had no peer in a woman’s soccer team anywhere in the world at the time). I gather it was a combination of Title IX (and a football team that needed a female sport counterpart to balance), an amazing coach, and a traditionally rugged play schedule against the best the rest of the States had to offer.

    Why it was interesting is a bit difficult to explain. All of the games were brutal for the opposing team. For example, in a game against then second ranked Notre Dame, the UNC team was bouncing twice as many balls off Notre Dame’s goalie as the UNC goalie was taking (the stochastic nature of the sport asserted itself here with an early Notre Dame point, IIRC). The interesting thing was that most of the opposing teams came in with an unusual amount of fighting spirit. UNC was the team to beat and they were eager to try.

    I think a part of it was that I like games with stacked odds (I suppose you could call them “Alamo games”). The strategies and goals are much different than they are for “fair” games. It also is a learning opportunity (assuming you survive the game, which you usually do) since playing against a superior opponent who doesn’t pull their punches can reveal weaknesses in your strategy that wouldn’t be apparent when playing against a player of similar competence.

    In hindsight, the UNC team was effectively training the entire field of women’s soccer in the US. While I think there were some unpleasant aspects (particularly the influence of Title IX), it was an interesting phenomena to watch.

  27. Soccer needs a “blue line” offside like hockey. Then with proper timing and spacing at the blue line, the forwards/strikers could break though and have a direct shot on the goal past the defenders. No “offside traps” to stop play. Unlike hockey, the soccer goalies have a hard time stopping breakaways and penalty kicks. Anthing to get more scoring.

  28. Like Curling, I look forward to the tight strategical outlook and slow ball movement every four years of the World Cup. I can see the political in many things, but tend to see the World Cup, like the Olympics, as a fantasy of the “little guy”. Who, in a philosophical minority, wouldn’t like a sport were structural disadvantage isn’t fatal?

  29. Soccer is probably a popular amateur or school sport because it doesn’t need much equipment and you don’t need to be a freak to play it well. American football (misnomer if ever I heard one) is the exact opposite to that – plus it has a truly incredible number of stoppages. Which may be why American TV networks like it so much – lots of time for the ridiculous number of adverts that interrupt American TV.

  30. I played soccer in high school, also played baseball in younger years. Football and baseball I grew up considering to be “fat mans sports” because they did a whole lot of standing around and not a lot of exercising, hence the tendency toward chubby players. Football and baseball also tended to be played by the dumber kids, although the football team would usually beg the soccer team for their best kickers…

    Soccer doesn’t tolerate standing around and chubbyness, which matters in today’s obese America. Soccer does have strategy even though it doesn’t seem like it at first glance. Out-psyching an opposing player in keeping or taking a ball from him is a mental game that forces you to think on your feet.

    That all said, I have a similar level of dislike of spectating any sport in which a ball or similar object does nothing but go back and forth on a field or court. Soccer, hockey, basketball, tennis…. gah hate watching any of them.

    If you want to think more, play chess… if you think chess doesnt have enough exercise, invent a chess sport in which the chess board is the size of a football field and the pieces are human players, who beat the crap out of each other when they confront each other.

  31. I have a theory that people who (unlike me) enjoy flow sports have a short (or at least shorter) attention span.

    Funny, because I was thinking the exact opposite.

    American Football drives me mad because of the stop-start nature, it feels like it was designed for people with attention deficit disorder. I’m not sure how somebody with a short attention span could keep the focus needed for a 90 minute football match or an 80 minute rugby one.

    I’ll watch major football matches (soccer – World Cup, FA Cup, something where Spurs are looking at winning some silverware) but Rugby is my real passion.

    I like it for all the reasons that Rand cites: tactics, flow of game, in game strategy, good score lines, plus is has real action, contact and danger.

  32. To add a follow on: I actually like American Football, but they need to get rid of the advertising time-outs at the very least. Then they’d have a more interesting sport.

    Oh, except they’d have to call it Rugby League. :p

  33. Not only do back-n-forth games put me to sleep, but any sport with an offsides penalty of the sort you find in hockey and soccer is just too damn Yurpeen. You work to create an advantage, and when you finally accomplish it, whammo, crab bucket penalty time. How socialist.

  34. Soccer was very popular in elementary, middle, and high schools in St. Louis, where I grew up in the 50s and 60s. I believe it was due to the influence of the Irish there (and many of the high school athletic directors were Irish). However, the pro version just never seemed to catch on, despite two big attempts that I recall.

    I loved playing it. It’s a snore to watch, in my opinion. But I lack the sports gene (and may, in fact, have sports antibodies).

  35. I’d say liberals like soccer because they embrace other cultures (specifically tird-world countries like Africa) while disproving of anything domestic. I live in a VERY liberal town and I was blown out of my socks by just how many “soccer fans” came out of the woodwork just in time for the world cup. Besides legitimate sports nuts, it was mainly liberals talking about the world cup and how happy they were that it was being held in South Africa. Then follwed by a dumb rant about “racial injustice” towards blacks in that country. Most of these liberals were talking about what team they were “rooting for” and it seemed like the poorer the country the more liberal the person was. Mind you these people probably couldn’t name one person on that team. American Liberals just really like the idea of being “united”+”equallity” (socialism connection?) and the absence of American past times and traditions. Soccer is huge all over the rest of the world including many tird-world countries and libs just love the idea of foreign and hip. Think about it; what sports in America are played internationally besides soccer?

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