Many Americans felt the pain of World Cup soccer on Saturday. decisively lost to HollandThere’s no shame in losing to the Netherlands, considered the best nation to ever win the world’s biggest football tournament, but this elimination was a little different. The US team has qualified for all but one World Cup since his 1990, but the talent ceiling for the young US team this year was unusually high. So did the expectations. As British fans like to say, this stabbing defeat in a major tournament feels like another small turning point in American football, if that’s what you want it to kill you: really. Suffering is a sign of a real football nation.
It’s hard to remember how it used to be. That’s what fandom can do: It can draw you in suddenly, completely and emotionally, and make you forget what life was like before. I couldn’t see it. A rarely seen sport that has sparked both mindless dismissals and unfounded hatred. I’ve spent the last few years writing a book and traveling through time to an obscure era of football.new kids in world cup,” about the 1990 American men’s team. Reaching the World Cup for the first time in 40 years, these players rescued the sport from oblivion and ignited the rising popularity of soccer in the United States at a time when soccer was at its lowest point. The only thing most Americans loved about soccer was the chance to ignore it. It was just to enjoy how boring it was, even if they paid the slightest attention to it.
The contrast between then and now is striking. From the 90s to his 2000s, the North American League, Major League Baseball, his football prospects were very uncertain. MLS is now a quarter-century old with over 20 teams, some of which are worth over $800 million of him. In addition to regularly providing football to its local fan base, the league develops talent and puts American players on the national team. We have to compete with the Premier League, which is
After Pele’s brief seduction of the United States in the mid-1970s, when he became fascinated by the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League, the sport was in full flame, and by the next decade there were embarrassing fads such as was considered. disco. It was seen as a participatory sport for women and children unfit to attract paying fans.The populist thought leader in this American sport was a newspaper sportswriter. Some of the smaller press who followed the US teams in the late 80s resented having to cover football. On the eve of the team’s biggest game against Trinidad and Tobago, some seemed to be rooting for the United States to fail. It has become something of a tradition because so many columnists across the country have written their own version of the “Why I Hate Soccer” column. . “You can’t control a ball well with your feet and head any more than you can drive a car fast with your nose and knees.” sports illustrated The legendary Frank Deford once wrote. “It’s so boring. I can’t get excited about my kid’s soccer game,” says Bob Smizyk. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette confessed. And former pro his quarterback-turned-congressman Jack Kemp said: . European socialists. “
Read enough of these old anti-soccer rants and your logic starts to fall apart. The sport is loved by egalitarian communists and fascist dictators. The soccer fan is a skinny, intelligent bully who hates American sports because he wasn’t picked as a kid, but he’s also a barbarian who just wants to drink and fight. Football is against evolution because the use of hands is generally not allowed. (The whole sport and its fan base are cursed with the dead-end gene!) Broadcaster Seamus Mullin said many Americans he met in the ’70s and ’80s thought soccer was the sport of “others.” Told me: taxi drivers, dishwashers, exchange students, virtuous intellectuals, and hippies.
These days, few mainstream sportswriters dare to write one of these columns. If so, he’ll be exposed as a dinosaur and likely tormented on social media. Even Fox News’ current attempt to make football a wedge issue feels half-baked. In addition to some unzipped complaints about the failure of foreign players and the lack of entertainment in the sport, the network’s pundits are wearing Nike-made t-shirts that omit “United” and simply read “States.” Read (imagine a divided country, as one commentator put it), and also decided by the United States Soccer Federation to change the logo’s red-striped “patriotic” row to a rainbow color scheme. Polls show that the sport lags far behind American football in popularity among adults.And scoreless ties like the US Great match against England, but still elicits haters and trolls. Still, that game, and other U.S. games, were successes in television ratings. It’s okay to be. If you take that concept one step further shockingly, it’s not cool to hate it.
The massive watch party I attended on San Diego’s Bayside lawn felt like part of Americana. Thousands of people wore US jerseys emblazoned with the names and numbers of current stars or retired legends. I have met die-hard supporters who have traveled to nearly every US game over the years. And I’ve spoken to many people who have bold ideas about the future of American football, the next phase of its popularity, and where and how we might one day experience the game. Even the evolution of chants speaks for itself. The 2010 chant featured the saccharine “I believe we will win”, but in this World Cup, the ironic “it’s called football” chants are the sport’s traditional heavyweight.
This is not just our problem. It’s more important to the world that America plays and cares about soccer than we think. Of course, it is the game of the world and in most countries it is the sport of the poor.In many places it is the only sport that matters. Key figures in other countries seem to see it as an honor and an opportunity for the United States to play the game. In 1989, as his team, an anonymous young American, was struggling to qualify for the World Cup (some things never change), after a game in Costa Rica, an unexpected visitor visited the team. I boarded the bus. The most recent recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize was the country’s president, Oscar Arias. Arias felt he had to give a speech to tired athletes who just wanted to go back to their hotels. He talked about how important America is to global democracy, explaining that the opponents of the day were actually their allies. It is hard to imagine such a scene happening to soccer teams from other countries.
Watching or visiting the World Cup (including) from an American perspective Sports washing spectacle of the year) gives us a fresh look at things beyond the typical media coverage and plot. Tournaments are events that stop the world in a way that the Olympics, fragmented by all boutique events, could never. address many of the issues of Iranian players and supporters have taken great risks to demonstrate against the moral police crackdown on women’s rights in their country. Arab fans in the region keep Palestine as prominent as possible. Leaked photos of the Serbian national team’s locker room show a Serbian flag and a map that includes Kosovo. US captain Tyler Adams brilliantly answered many questions about racing in America during the pre-match press conference. open. Isn’t it a strange coincidence that the United States faced close political allies in England and Wales and bitter adversaries in Iran in this year’s group stage?
Most players tend to see political gestures as a distraction from the game itself. But even playing against a political opponent is an act of foreign policy, and don’t mind swapping jerseys with them later, as per soccer customs. It can be high-profile, low-stakes diplomacy on the turf, as it competes within the rules of the , has a neutral arbitrator in charge, and has no material issues. Two of his patriotic supporters share a stadium in a festive mood as the world watches. The players are all simply athletes of different colors. Following the US victory over Iran, US’s Anthony Robinson comforts Iran’s Ramin Rezaian It was widely disseminated on social media. Meanwhile, in the stands at that match, it was clear that the national supporters were neither hardline religious fanatics nor demons. They were not distant enemies. They were the most common denominator in humans. They were football fans, like most people. ♦