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Nominal Me

I'm falling in love with my camera and taking photos everywhere I go. That, combined with my passions for politics, sports, religion and other things we all agree on, makes this blog persist.

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Location: Astoria, New York, United States

I'm born in Manhattan and raised in Queens.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Why Don't We Like Football (Soccer)?

On July 4, 2004, the Greek national team won the European Cup in the greatest upset in sports history. Yet few people in America were watching.

Do you know who Angelos Charisteas is? If you're American, probably not.

He scored the winning goal for Greece to win the 2004 European Cup. If you lived just about anywhere else in the planet, you have a good idea of who he is and what he did.

Why is that?

Greek-Americans in Astoria, Queens (New York City) closed down streets as they celebrated the unlikely championship.

It was a huge party in the streets, and a blast to walk around in.

But that was the vast minority of Americans. It was American Independence Day, and most of us had other things on our minds. Many U.S. newscasts barely mentioned the win, and only a few knew the game was taking place at all. We just don't seem to care about football, uh, soccer.

Part of the reason is that we're not good at it. Probably like most people, admire the things that as a nation we're good at. Americans interest in soccer peaked when the U.S. men's team qualified in the World Cup and the women's team won it all.

Another theory is that the matches are low scoring. This makes some sense, yet it doesn't quite answer the question for me. If you take a look at a game like basketball, which is popular in the U.S., there are plenty of scoring but the first three-and-a-half-quarters of each game is pointless.

Perhaps it's a simple as we like to use our hands? Or that we like expensive sports?

In Athens, Greeks filled Omonia Square after each major win. Americans did not have a similar enthusiasm when the U.S. team qualified for the World Cup playoffs.

Keep in mind that the Greeks had never scored a goal in major international competition -- much less won a game -- yet they were still passionate about it.

Soccer is such a great sport. Yet until recently, I hardly ever followed it.

In the end, like many other things, it's probably just a cultural thing.

As the Guardian recently wrote, "America is not the world."

We just don't pay attention to what goes on outside our boarders. They think that's going to change, at least when it comes to soccer.

I'm not so sure.


Blogger GreekGoddess said...

AMEN to that. I keep on saying that you REALLY dont know what's going on outside your borders but nobody believes me :) Great blog and thanks for visiting mine :)

Jenny (aka GreekGoddess)

Sunday, 28 November, 2004  
Blogger Barry Lubov said...

This is going to come off as snide, but soccer is a mind numbing bore. Dan Rydell said it, and its true. I've watched soccer. I believe that, by and large, I understand the game, while admittedly knowing none of the players (OK...I know who Pele is).

Soccer is national pride. Soccer is my country beat your country. If soccer were one place in France vs. another place in France, it wouldn't be anywhere near as popular, because the entire country of France wouldn't have so much staked in it (not to mention that Italy wouldn't care at all). It would be more of a local celebration...like Boston winning the World Series (a ludicrous name, as anyone with half a brain knows). Nobody but people from Boston were celebrating. It was entirely local.

But soccer is France vs. Greece or Korea vs. Britain. That changes the stakes. It puts your entire country's repution on the line in the eyes of the world.

If the American team were better relative to the rest of the world, then perhaps it would briefly capture our attention...but again...only on a national pride level. When you really sit down to watch, its HORRIBLY BORING. It isn't that its low scoring. You're right about low scores in football. And how many 1-0 baseball games are there? Many. No, the problem isn't the 0-0 ties. Its the game itself.

Add to that, we are a sports oriented country. Look how many professional sports we have, and invest time in. I don't need to list them. There's sports year-round. One season ends, as another one is beginning. Multiple games in multiple sports per week. And when compared to the hard-hitting, fast-paced games we play here, I think soccer just doesn't live up.

Monday, 29 November, 2004  
Blogger Barry Lubov said...

I just read that Guardian piece...I don't buy it. Not for a minute. Soccer has been in America's schools since I was a little kid (longer ago than I choose to contemplate). I remember my friend Seth from 2nd grade was a huge soccer fan. Soccer isn't new...not by a long shot. Kids play it, in part, because its fantastically good exercise. Gets the blood pumping, the heart racing. Schools like it because other than a field, a ball, and some goals (and sometimes not even goals), there's minimal financial investment required. No helmets, no pads, and next to no liability. Hell...the field barely needs to be mowed! Look at how much work it takes to make a baseball diamond! Parents love it because, along with the exercise, there's no hitting or tackling. Its competitive without making the kids angry or bloody (or both).

No reasonable person could deny that soccer players have to be in fantastically good shape to play the game. You virtually run a marathon every time you step out on the field (sorry...the pitch). But that doesn't change the fact that as a spectator sport, you're essentially watching a team of people run back and forth, with the occasional goal to spice things up (or not).

By the way...baseball can be boring too. Any game where things don't move (like a back and forth pitching battle where nobody can accomplish anything) can wear on the nerves. The difference is that baseball games like that aren't the norm, but its virtually every soccer game.

I'm sure that soccer is a blast to play. Most sports are. Hell...I'm sure curling is fun for the guys with the brooms. They wouldn't do it if it weren't fun. But watching it is less fun than hitting yourself in the head with a rubber mallet. Same with just about any other activity...bowling, billiards, poker, chess, cow-tipping...they're all less fun to watch than to play.

Frankly, I think the rest of the world needs to get over the fact that we don't dig it. Have your soccer. You're not offending me. It seems its the other countries that are upset that we don't like soccer like they do. They take it as some sort of personal affront. Its not. Its simply a boring sport and I, for one, have other things to do.

And by the way...the writer of that piece has some nerve to comment about the steroids, as if soccer is such a clean and wholesome sport. There's a reason they're called "soccer riots". Half a soccer stadium gets liquored up and tramples the other half because Paulo scored the only goal of the game, but WE'RE the dumb ones? I don't think so.

Monday, 29 November, 2004  
Blogger Nominal Me said...

Soccer can be really exciting, as it is constant action (even though it's not constant scoring). I don't think I can get into club matches, but international competition is a blast to watch.

If Americans can watch baseball, they can certainly watch soccer.

Monday, 29 November, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you american fools how can you say football (soccer) is boring when you worship baseball and american football






Saturday, 02 April, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am greek...
Well Soccer is the best sport ever!!!!
It's bad that us people think that usa is the world :(
I don't really care cause we got our party going on here ;)

Monday, 09 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

enerything is how you look at it like basket ball can be boring at times and so can soccer but to say either one sucks is stupid and its true americans dont pay attention to the rest of the wolrd

Saturday, 28 May, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been watching Football (and I'm going to call it football, because that is what every country calls it apart from America) for most of my life.
I've never been to an international football match, but I have attended hundreds of club matches, following my team, Reading, all over England.
The game requires incredible skill and teamwork, moments of individual brilliance, moments of great teamwork, and also cunning strategies and tactics.
You wouldn't expect millions of people all over the world to attend these matches if they found them boring.

Of course there is the cultural and social differences throughout the country that make the game special, and I've been led to believe that you don't get that in America. You want to be the best around - Most football fans recognise other teams kits, despite the fact they may be from the other side of the country, and they've not played each other in 15 years. Its part of British culture, and as everybody in England is so close to everyone else, people tend to take great pride in thier team.

Barry Lubov, if you even had an inkling as to what football is about, you would know that Britain doesn't have a team.
Its England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and we're all as passionate as each other when it comes to games between our teams.

Atmosphere is another factor - The English fans are amongst the most passionate in the world, and the vast vast majority of this display of passion goes without even a thought of violence.

There are mindless idiots who go to matches to cause trouble, but In Britain we don't get kids wandering around schools with guns, shooting everyody.
We've all got our own problems, and we're all trying to sort them out.
Has there never been violence at an American game?

We all love our own sports, and to fully enjoy something you have to be able to relate to it - I tried to watch the Superbowl, but I couldn't understand why the game kept getting stopped, or even how they were meant to do what they were trying to do if the game kept getting stopped because the ball was on the floor.
I'm sure with a little explanation, a little bit of cultural and historical understanding, I could enjoy it, and perhaps even care, but as it stands, I'm just not interested because I don't understand.
If a passionate English fan took you to watch his/her team play, then I'm sure you would come away with a greater understanding, and have a much better experience.

On a Side note, my team, Reading has an American International (Bobby Convey), ad as a result, I've taken an interest in the American team. You've got a good thing going there, and enjoy it.

Saturday, 11 June, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no problem saying soccer sucks, but that's just my opinion. I was traveling in Italy and Turkey during the last World Cup I couldn't attempt to feign interest. I lived in London during the Euro Cup, sat in crowded pubs filled with wily hooligans and face-painted nationals yelling "GOAL!" and was bored to tears.

Am I supposed to feel ashamed because we couldn't give a rat's ass about such a boring sport? Nope.

I'm a fan of college basketball and ice hockey. I'm not a fan of football, but I laugh at Brits and Euro trash who make fun of it because they wear padding. Newsflash you idiots, there is a REASON they wear padding. Your average NFL player would PULVERIZE your average rugby player and send home to his "mum" crying like a little bitch.

So all in all, Europe and the rest of the world can have their little kid's sport and I will continue to enjoy the sports I like.

Sunday, 11 June, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Like who cares if 5 per cent of the human population doesnt like soccer. The 95 per cent totally understand soccer and realise its more then just kicking and running after a ball. Thats something americans dont get and will never get. They think in order for a game to be exciting it needs to be constant scoring and little commercials in between constant sensory overload. And by the way i have been to baseball games in the states. Oh my god talk about boring and the atmosphere totally sucked compared to soccer. Just a bunch of americans sitting around drinking beer saying 'oh my gawddd did you see that like awesome'.

Bottom line whole world loves and plays soccer....only america plays american sports and noone else.

Monday, 12 June, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the above posting. Americans dont actually understand soccer. They don't understand that there is tactics involved i.e. defence, offense, wingplay and midfield play.

When americans look at soccer they don't understand this they just see guys kicking a ball around constantly and say ' whats so exciting about that man they aint scoring this is boring' When the rest of the world looks at it they are like ' oh great piece of play good skill great defending etc' Thats because unlike american sports there is more to the game then just ranking scores up in an orgy of brute power. Its all about intelligent defending attacking and general play. When a score finally comes in soccer its exciting because it may be the score that wins the game or its like sex when after all the effort your team gets the reward lol.

I think its a cultural thing i dont think americans understand it just like i don't understand american football but hey i still watch the superbowl

Monday, 12 June, 2006  
Blogger Nominal Me said...

Well Anon, the world does play baseball and basketball. The WBC (World Baseball Classic) showed that the world has caught up with the American pastime so well that the United States did not even qualify for the playoffs. In the NBA finals right now (June of 2006) a German national is the star of one of the teams. To say that no one cares about sports being played here in the states is wrong.

Tuesday, 13 June, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an American woman who loves baseball and will watch NFL football occasionally, but baseball is #1 to me.

I watched the Portugal/Netherlands match over the weekend, as my husband and I had spent the day before with some of his Dutch colleauges who were very excited about the match.

I valiantly tried to follow the game, and could for stretches of time,but would find myself admiring the grass cut patterns and watching the fans instead of the game. Those guys must have awesome cardio power for the amount of running and motion they do. Perhaps the excitment in the sport is in the eye of the beholder, or what you were raised with. There are many people who cannot abide baseball, but it is nail-biting exciting to me.

I would probably enjoy the game more if I could bring myself to watch it more and educate myself about the game.

I could not understand the conflict with the referee in the game, and what the yellow and red cards actually meant. If you get a red card, are you out for a certain number of games? Is a yellow card like a penalty box? I even read some write ups about the match, and still don't know exactly what that was all about.

I will agree with a previous poster too, about the "fake" injuries. It did seem that if anyone was even touched, or accidently brushed, they fell to the ground as if they had been mortally wounded. I have never seen more stretchers brought out for any sporting event. What is that all about?

I am glad the rest of the world is "football" crazy, or cricket crazy or curling crazy. Sports mean a lot to all of us in our lives, no matter which one you choose (or chooses you!) to love.

Monday, 26 June, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My response (albeit far too late for them to ever read it) is to all the European soccer fanatics who showed up responding on this blog... the ones that are screaming to high heaven about their beloved sport and ragging on the US for not liking it!

Americans "don't understand football"?? Oh PLEASE. Yes they do, they just dont care! Come to terms with that already. Does it take skill? Of course! But it is NOT difficult to understand. As was previously mentioned, we all played soccer in school, we know HOW, we just dont CARE! I know how to play dodgeball too, but Im not going to get excited watching a game no matter how good the people are at it.

Why the rest of the world is so inexplicably bent about the feelings of the US regarding soccer I will never understand! Why do you even CARE whether we care about soccer??? Why do you have this NEED for admiration and vindication of your love of soccer from the US, anyway? Do your own thing, nobody in the USA is stopping you! The people of the US do not rag on your great atheletes, they are just completely indifferent to them. Learn the difference!

I myself am a huge hockey fan and most of western Europe is PTIIFULLY bad at the sport that *I* love. You certainly don't see hockey fans all over the US and Canada (or Eastern Europe and the former Societ Union, for that matter) whining about why European and South American nations suck/don't play/don't care about hockey, do you? I hate to break it to you all but we honestly couldn't care less, and that SHOULD NOT MATTER TO YOU. Live and let live, right? Unless its the US, of course.

So, PLEASE- calm down, enjoy your sport, and come to grips with the fact that Soccer isnt huge here. Have your soccer games, cheer for your teams, and enjoy it all. And, just for your own mental stability, please recognize that your irrational need for approval and admiration from the citizens of the US will never be satidfied. Be OK with that, and move on.

Friday, 31 August, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have lived here for 25 years and never find american football appealing!!! IMO, it does not take alot of skills to play football. You cant say the same for soccer. I went to an ohio state game and fell asleep. The games are slow compared to soccer games.

Sunday, 21 October, 2007  
Blogger phil said...

I could attack you Americans and say you are all stupid but the fact is that it is just a cultural thing. Football is the best game in the world and is hugely exciting. You find it boring because you don't understand it, simple as that, and I don't want you to understand it; why should you? I can remmeber when American football and rounders...sorry baseball started to appear on English TV. God knows why, it was definitely a deliberate attempt to sell the sport to a wider audience because at the time nobody in England gave a shit about either baseball or American Football but it's been rambed down our throats.
The only thing that annoys me is that instead only simply saying " I don't know football, I haven't grown up with football and therefore I don't follow or like football" Americans say it's boring. No, it isn't; it's called the beautiful game because of the amazing amount of skill in it. Basket ball on the other hand is the most tedious boring game ever invented. Run up to that end of the court -put a ball through a hoop-run to the other end-put a ball through a hoop- run back to that end- put a ball through etc etc etc. Doctors should prescibe videos of the game for people suffering from insomnia.
So, my advice to Americans is...don't watch football, don't think about football, just leave it with us.
By the way, baseball was developed, if that's the correct word, from a girls game called 'rounders' (and boy does it tell)

Tuesday, 17 June, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm an American who grew up in the south and the big sport down here is American Football. That is what I grew up with and I love it. However, baseball and basketball aren't (or at least weren't) as popular and thus I never really got that interested in it. Therefore I believe it's more about what you grow up with, something that you can say is apart of your identity/culture. Right now I have lived in Mexico for 3 years and soccer is an all year round sport and it has taken me a while to get used to it and learn the game. I'll admit I'm still not too wild about the sport, but I am learning to appreciate it. This whole rivalery about what sport is boring, stupid, sissy is just silly - all sports are great in the eye of the beholder! No one sport is any better than the other, in my opinion it just depends on what you grew up with.

Monday, 07 June, 2010  

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