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.