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Soccer Will Never Be Popular In The United States

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Until last year, The Tampa Bay Rays perennially owned the worst attendance in the American League. Then, during their miracle 97-win campaign, their attendance skyrocketed to third worst! Woohoo! But at least the Rays can hang their hat on being Florida’s baseball hotbed, topping the Marlins, who can only start a wave in the audience if they install hydraulic seats.

Dan Levy wrote at the Sporting Blog about how ESPN should cover the World Cup, including sending a studio crew to South Africa. It’s probably a good idea, that way their coverage isn’t just lip service to FIFA. Levy’s underlying message seems to be that promotion of soccer in the United States is a good thing, and this is a key component in carrying out that goal.

I don’t argue with that. Just with this: “The best thing to come out of the success of the U.S. men’s national soccer team is that, finally, soccer isn’t a four-letter word in the American sports vernacular.” Maybe jokes like The Simpsons did back in the day are outdated, but the four-letter word is now nine: B-A-N-D-W-A-G-O-N.

The win over Spain last week, according to the president of U.S. Soccer, was one of three landmark soccer moments in recent memory, along with the 1994 World Cup win over Colombia and reaching the quarterfinals of the ’02 Cup. Three great moments in the last 15 years? That’s it? Hell, the Marlins have won two World Series in the last 15 years. Would a third championship have made a big difference?

This isn’t about trying to squeeze soccer into The American Casual Fan’s loaded rota of football, baseball, basketball, college sports, NASCAR, and hockey. The doubt lies in the American soccer program compared to the rest of the world’s. Europe is the ACC, and the United States is Gonzaga. And even if all of those caveats were met … would soccer still be popular?

“People in America like to win,” Levy wrote, “and on an international stage, something the United States has never done in men’s soccer.” We do love international victory (Lance Armstrong, The Dream Team, gymnastics) but when it doesn’t happen, we don’t get that worked up about it, saying “oh well” in lieu of “oh hell,” then flipping back to our own intra-national leagues. Then we zone out international competition until someone notices we beat England or Italy or some other futbol-loving foreign country, such as South Florida.

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  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Never is a long time. Not likely in my lifetime, but when the nightmares of Pat Buchanan and Tom Trancredo finally become a reality, then we’ll see.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Soccer is already popular in the US, and has been for a long time. But it’s popular in the way softball is popular: a lot of people love to play and watch it, but it doesn’t command big TV audiences of national attention.

    It may soon supplant hockey as one of the top four sports here, and I reckon baseball needs to be looking over its shoulder as well. Matt mentions the poor attendances at ball games in Florida. Think where a lot of the immigrants in that part of the country are coming from. Florida baseball should be way more popular than it seems to be.

  • Dan

    I think ice hockey is on the rise. More people are watching the Stanley Cup every year. Less are watching the NBA finals each year. Baseball seems to be in decline. NASCAR has siphoned off a lot of sports fans.

    Soccer may end up being like golf, tennis, and even bowling. If you play these sports then you’re pretty avid about watching the best play them as well.

    The NFL though, is the premier sport in the US. A near perfect blend of athletic diversity, suspense, and urgency, capsulated in 16 rare, regular season, performances, a week apart.

    It’s also a very attractive gambling medium. That’s why many viewers stay tuned even through the lopsided games. The point spread is often in question. As well as the over/under.

    It’s hard for soccer to break in to the American market. There is a certain amount of over-saturation of American sports already.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Football is THE global game. The problem for the USA is that you lot tend to get all pouty and sulky when you aren’t good at something.

    Now it has been proven convincingly that your national football team can walk tall on the global football stage, I’m sure its popularity will surge yet again.

  • zingzing

    for the first half of the brazil game, i thought we were walking on water. that nothing could touch us.

    then the second half happened. what the fuck was that? as much as you have to credit brazil, no one who is paying any attention gives up 3 goals (should have been 4) in 45 minutes. that’s just damn ridiculous. i dunno if it was bad coaching, scared (of what? success?) players or what, but that was fucking frustrating. i could just feel it slipping away. that it took until the 85th minute for it to really become brazil’s game is a small victory, but she-it.

    i’ve never felt such deflation.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s all about money. Football doesn’t take in because of the perception there isn’t enough action (scoring mainly). Lack of homegrown talent is no obstacle. Most players in any respectable league are international stars. If there were receipts at the box office, there’d be no problem recruiting.

  • Dan

    It’s hard to understand why some soccer fans seem to get upset because a majority of American sports fans find the game to be dull.

    Fans of American football, or basketball, or baseball, or NASCAR don’t seem to care if their sports are globally popular.

    They accept and understand that soccer is “The” global game, they just don’t care. It is a boring sport.

    No amount of cajoling by needy soccer conformists will draw them away from the more exciting American sports they are already emotionally vested in.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Whether it’s a boring sport or not depends on your perception and whether you’ve been immersed in it or not.

    I personally find baseball and ice hockey pretty damn boring. The former consists largely of a guy in an outsize glove and another guy dressed as Hannibal Lecter throwing the ball back and forth to one another, while a third guy with a stick attempts, usually with a miserable lack of success, to disrupt their game of catch. About twice every hour, several other guys get in on the ‘action’ by briefly running about and trying to get as muddy as possible. The general monotony is interspersed by the invocation of a variety of obscure and pointless rules which appear to serve no purpose whatsoever and to have been made up on the spot.

    Hockey consists of twelve guys dressed as Hannibal Lecter chasing a urinal cake around an ice rink at speeds in excess of what the human eye or television camera can process. We the audience just have to take the officials’ word for what the score is. There are occasional impromptu auditions for WWE interspersed throughout the proceedings, possibly to distract from the fact that no-one knows what the heck is going on.

    There are, of course, many nuances to all three sports which make them rewarding to their respective fans. I’m discovering this with American football, which I used to think consisted of a few seconds’ frenzied running and wrestling involving 22 30-ton men and achieving precisely nothing, followed by an orgy of commercial breaks, but which I am now, worryingly, coming to enjoy watching.

  • zingzing

    dan: “They accept and understand that soccer is “The” global game, they just don’t care. It is a boring sport.”

    that’s pretty silly. i was on the edge of my seat the entire game during us-brazil. of course, it meant something to me, so i suppose that had something to do with it. i was cursing and drinking and smoking far too much. i had a pit in my stomach the entire second half. and i was on the verge of self-destruction by the end. damn sport is too much to take.

  • http://www.marksaleski.com MarkSaleski

    i was on the edge of my seat the entire game during us-brazil.

    that’s because you care about the sport. most people here don’t.

    i’ve been hearing this argument for decades, that in the next ten years, soccer will become the dominant sport. it’s not gonna happen.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Mark, your argument could be used against a lot of the music you like, which most people don’t. You’re just on the other side of the argument here.

    A great football match has all the passion and drama of a great gig, movie or play, possibly more so as the potential for the totally unexpected, such as when the USA recently beat Spain against all the odds, is so much greater. And all neatly packaged into ninety minutes too.

    I wouldn’t argue that football will become the dominant sport in the USA in the next ten years, but I would be utterly surprised if its popularity didn’t continue the obvious growth path it has been on for decades.

    On the other hand, it is also pretty obvious that the other current popular US sports are not really going to get any bigger than they currently are.

    Basketball is like fast food; ice hockey is enjoyed as much for the zamboni and the violence as the actual game; baseball is too slow and too long; and American rugby is utterly devoid of a real sense of competition because no matter how shit a team is, it’s going to be back again next season because teams don’t get relegated when they finish bottom of the league, which is pretty strange for the land of free enterprise.

    Finally, despite the general global popularity of American culture, none of its sports appeal to a genuinely global audience, despite the pretensions to world series. Blimey, even cricket is growing faster than any of those sports, a thing I would never have imagined possible!

  • http://www.marksaleski.com MarkSaleski

    honestly chris, i’m not trying to diss the game because of course it has all sorts of nuance and beauty….really, like any sport.

    i’m also not trying to say that the sports that are popular here are “better” (which, by the way, is not the argument i make about music).

    sadly, it wouldn’t surprise me if at some point ALL sports declined in popularity here as the younger generations have become so attached to electronic devices they have no time for going outdoors and actually playing.

    does wii count as a sport??

  • Jordan Richardson

    does wii count as a sport??

    It damn well better!

  • Tony

    I think the interesting thing about the popularity of soccer in America discussion is that everyone always assumed, because the sport is so popular in the rest of the world, that it would eventually take here.

    In reality the opposite has happened. Basketball has constantly been growing on a global scale, esepcially in Europe. Baseball has spread all over the Latin American countries and all over Asia.

    The theory was reversed. Soccer is not going to become more popular in the U.S., U.S. sports are already becoming more popular everywhere else.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/scott-deitche/ Scott Deitche

    I love the fact that soccer is not that popular. It gives it far more a of a cult feel. Around here in the Tampa Bay area, everyone and their mother can talk about the Bucs roster. But you find someone that watches and knows about soccer- there’s the instant click, the ‘exclusive club’ appeal.

    But then I think the most boring thing in the world is watching cars race around a track for the better part of a day.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Tony, I think the interesting thing about your comment is that it includes such a high degree of wish fulfilment.

    Basketball does get played in a lot of countries but to generally small audiences, a bit like how live theatre does. I don’t know much about how popular baseball might be in South America or Asia but a global sport it certainly isn’t.

    On the other hand, football is continuing to grow in popularity both globally and in the USA.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Last I heard, basketball was (apart from women’s/girls’ football) the fastest-growing sport among young people in the UK. That’s not to say it’s a major sport, which it isn’t. 29 people out of 30 wouldn’t be able to tell you who the current BBA champions are; a slightly larger number would be able to name the NBA champions – which is Chris’s point: top-class basketball is watched but not generally played.

    British basketball is still marginal and underfunded, unlike in countries like Spain, Greece, Turkey and the Balkan nations, where the top football clubs often have an equally successful basketball section (e.g. Barcelona, Panathinaikos). Britain is struggling even to put together men’s and women’s teams good enough to compete in our own Olympics in three years’ time, and the international basketball powers-that-be are having to bend their rules to help us make it happen.

    As for baseball, it is popular only in certain specific Asian and South American countries, namely Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, mainland China to a certain extent; Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. Everywhere else, football rules – to the point of obsession in much of Latin America. So to say baseball has ‘spread all over’ those continents is stretching it.

  • Tony

    Baseball is poplar all over the Latin countries as evident by the influx of players from those various countries in the MLB. Watch the Caribbean Series sometime. The same can be said for Asia, although it is less widespread.

    It basically comes down to the fact that the places where soccer hangs on in these regions are the places where the poverty level prevents them from playing other sports. Soccer is by far the cheapest sport to play therefor it maintains popularity in the 3rd world.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Baseball is poplar all over the Latin countries as evident by the influx of players from those various countries in the MLB.

    Actually, a current breakdown by nationality of the 2009 MLB roster shows that the foreign contingent, as expected, is dominated by Dominican, Venezuelan, Japanese and Cuban players and those from the United States’s neighbors. There are an insignificant number from random other countries. I’m surprised that there aren’t more Japanese or Koreans, but I put that down to distance.

    If baseball was, as you claim, popular all over Latin America then where are the Brazilian, Argentine, Chilean or Peruvian MLB players?

    It basically comes down to the fact that the places where soccer hangs on in these regions are the places where the poverty level prevents them from playing other sports. Soccer is by far the cheapest sport to play therefor it maintains popularity in the 3rd world.

    Tony, now you’re just being ridiculous. By that argument, baseball should be more popular than soccer in affluent countries like the UK, Germany, Australia or the Persian Gulf nations, where it quite patently isn’t and where soccer ‘hangs on’ by being played and watched by millions every week.

    Not to mention that playing a game of baseball is hardly going to break the bank. All you really need is some kind of stick and some kind of ball. As a kid I quite happily played rounders (a British children’s derivative of baseball) with a tree branch and a tennis ball.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Additional to the above: I did try to post a link to an MLB nationality breakdown, but my comment wouldn’t post. If you Google ‘major league baseball nationalities’, result number 6 will give you it.

  • zingzing

    rounders is a derivative of baseball? thought it was the other way around.

  • Tony

    Connecting the popularity of soccer to poverty is not ridiculous. I didn’t mean to say when you’re broke you play soccer and when you’re rich you play baseball. Soccer is ingrained in the European culture, I get that. But even in Europe, games like cricket, polo, ect are played by the wealthy.

    To play American sports in places like Africa, you need the equipment, enough people, and to know the rules. How can people in poverty stricken countries like Africa learn the rules of baseball? Its not like they can flip on ESPN.

    An activity like soccer lends itself well to poverty stricken regions because you literally need nothing besides a ball of some sort. And the basic jist isn’t too hard to grasp; you kick the ball into a space past someone who is trying to stop it.

    The reason why American’s don’t play soccer is not because we are not good at it. We do play it as little kids because our mom’s enjoy the fact that it is a passive, non-competative activity. When we grow up, we grow out of it. And its not an anti-European thing because I love rugby.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    @ #21:

    Nope, zing. Look it up. We Brits invented baseball, of which rounders is a scaled-down version. By some freakish accident, it was baseball rather than the other stick-and-ball game, cricket, which became popular in the US – though it was touch-and-go there for a while. Indeed, did you know that the oldest regular competitive international sporting event is the annual cricket match between the USA and Canada? The series has been running since 1870-something. Amazing.

    @ #22:

    Polo is played by the wealthy, yes… but cricket??!!? Not, emphatically not a rich man’s sport. Even in England it isn’t, but your thesis utterly fails to explain the game’s huge popularity in some of the world’s poorest areas like South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Not to mention that cricket is probably the one sport whose rules approach baseball in their rarefied complexity. Yet people in poverty-stricken countries seem to pick it up quite easily and play it all the time.

    Actually, you don’t even need a ball to play soccer. At school, if there wasn’t one to hand, we’d play with a coke can. Not a good idea to try heading it, though.

    And as far as it being a passive, non-competitive activity, that may be how American kids are taught to play it, but try typing ‘Vinnie Jones’ into YouTube and take a look at what comes up.

  • Jerry

    If you oppose illegal immigration and support strong border security, you’re not only “racist” but also clearly hate soccer.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I’m really struggling to see how you got there, Jerry…

  • Jerry

    ‘It may soon supplant hockey as one of the top four sports here, and I reckon baseball needs to be looking over its shoulder as well.’

    You’re insane. Do you have anything to back up this crazy prediction?

  • Jerry

    ‘Football is THE global game. The problem for the USA is that you lot tend to get all pouty and sulky when you aren’t good at something.’

    First, Team USA has been in the top 20 for most of the last decade, so we actually are rather good at it when you consider that FIFA ranks over 200 teams. Second, the real reason Americans don’t like watching soccer is because it’s low-scoring and involves a bunch of skinny guys diving and crying crocodile tears. If I wanted to see that sort of thing I’d just watch LOGO.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    You’re insane.

    Quite possibly. The jury’s still out on that one.

    Do you have anything to back up this crazy prediction?

    Population demographics, plus Matt’s observation, in the article, about the Rays and the Marlins having poor attendance figures despite the teams’ recent success. Oh, and the fact that you need an MBA to be able to figure out (a) which channels the NHL is on and (b) how to subscribe to them.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    First, Team USA has been in the top 20 for most of the last decade, so we actually are rather good at it when you consider that FIFA ranks over 200 teams.

    FIFA’s ranking system defies logical explanation. The USA’s ranking is suspect for several reasons, the two most obvious of which are (1) that the team gains most of its ranking points from its World Cup qualifying and continental championship results against other teams from its region, where with the exception of Mexico the US is the strongest force by some distance; and (2) the nation’s generally poor results when it does come up against the top teams in serious matches. The recent Confederations Cup was encouraging, but it remains to be seen if that performance will translate into a good showing at next year’s World Cup. Remember that they played diabolically in the first two games and only qualified for the semi-finals courtesy of a statistical fluke. Team USA has to find some level of consistency or they will be screwed in 2010.

  • Jerry

    ‘Basketball is like fast food’

    Racist.

    ‘ice hockey is enjoyed as much for the zamboni and the violence as the actual game’

    I guess you don’t watch hockey, because no one cares about the fucking Zamboni except people who know nothing else about the sport. And most of the violence has been taken out of hockey.

    ‘baseball is too slow and too long’

    Add in “low-scoring” and that’s what a lot of people say about soccer aka European-Dive-And-Cry.

    ‘and American rugby is utterly devoid of a real sense of competition’

    Oh, you’re just a troll. Sorry to have taken you semi-seriously there for a minute.

    ‘because no matter how shit a team is, it’s going to be back again next season because teams don’t get relegated when they finish bottom of the league’

    That doesn’t happen in any professional sport in North America, that I’m aware of.

    ‘which is pretty strange for the land of free enterprise.’

    Didn’t you hear the news? Obama got elected, so that doesn’t apply anymore.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    ‘Basketball is like fast food’

    Racist.

    What?!?

    And I’m the one being called insane?

  • Jerry

    #25 I was responding to the first comment. The implication is that once the entire population of Mexico illegally immigrates to California, and then they are given citizenship via amnesty by Obama, that soccer will become very popular in the United States. And that may be true. So now pro-amnesty people can hurl another insult at opponents. Not only are they evil hate-filled racist xenophobes, but they also dislike soccer.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Jerry, you’re projecting.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    [Edited]

    interesting dissection of my comment, Jerry

  • miss riley

    NO SOCCER THATS RIDICULUS SOCCER’S THE BEST EVER HOW CAN SOMEONE NOT LIKE SOCCER EVEN IF THEY ARE AMERICAN YOU CANT NOT LIKE SOCCER
    ITS THE WORLDS MOST POPULAR SPORT AND THE PEOPLE WHO PUT THE SIGHN UP ARE MOST LIKELY JELUS CAUSE THEY CANT PLAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Annie

    [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

    Soccer sucks.

  • zingzing

    wow. this thing deteriorated fast. jerry!

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    And now for the classic Silas Kain fly in the ointment. Soccer is FOOTBALL. NFL “Football” is AMERICAN FOOTBALL. We Americans are so proprietary in sports and politics. Believe it or not there are millions of Football enthusiasts around the globe who get pissed off because we refuse to give “soccer” its due.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    You’re mostly right, Silas, though to be ultrafinicky, your oval ball game ought to be called American Rugby.

    Only dorks use the word soccer, so every time a Seppo uses it, the sub-text is “hello, i’m a dork”!

  • Clavos

    Only dorks use the word soccer, so every time a Seppo uses it, the sub-text is “hello, i’m a dork”!

    Which means, as I’ve long suspected, that ALL (or nearly all) Seppos are dorks (in this instance, I am Mexican), ’cause damn few will call it “football,” which as everyone knows, is an entirely different game here.

  • zingzing

    of course, if a brit uses the term “football” over here, the usual response will be, “fuck pittsburg,” and you’ll be all like “huh?” and they’ll go “ohhhh…. you were talking about soccer… you dork.”

    i’m equally enthralled with both sports, and i can usually tell the difference between “football” and “football” in conversation. it’s all about context.

    besides, it’s not like british people don’t have equally ridiculous names for otherwise simple things.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    I’m too polite to tag an entire nation, Clavos, especially when I have you to do it for me! ;-)

    Zinger, I once tried to fuck Pittsburg but was knackered after the first couple of thousand. Oh, wait, that wasn’t what you meant… lol

  • zingzing

    come on, chris! go for a run or something. get the blood pumping. if you can’t fuck pittsburg, little thing that it is, how do you ever hope to get around to fucking new york? huh? i’m on to mexico city! i’ve been smoking a shitload in between runs, just so i can get used to the atmosphere. after i conquer all there, it’s on to tokyo!

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Fortunately, fucking the entire population of Pittsburg, California, while ambitious, is a far less daunting prospect than fucking the entire population of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

    Yes, zing, we probably do have some ridiculous names for things, but at least we don’t call a game in which only one player (who spends mere seconds of each game on the field) ever actually uses his feet to move the ball, ‘football’. It’s a bit like recording a rock song with a three-second violin solo in it and calling it classical music…

    And we don’t have the nerve to call the championship of a competition which is competed for only by teams in North America ‘The World Series’.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    “Fortunately, fucking the entire population of Pittsburg, California, while ambitious, is a far less daunting prospect than fucking the entire population of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.”

    I think I can see your point.

  • zingzing

    dread: “at least we don’t call a game in which only one player (who spends mere seconds of each game on the field) ever actually uses his feet to move the ball, ‘football’.”

    running doesn’t count?

    “And we don’t have the nerve to call the championship of a competition which is competed for only by teams in North America ‘The World Series’.”

    at the time it was named, it was the only professional league in the world, so it made sense. and baseball is a game of tradition. so it stuck. such is life.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    running doesn’t count?

    If running in conjunction with a ball was all that mattered then tennis, lacrosse, basketball, cricket and hurling would also qualify as ‘football’.

    at the time it was named, it was the only professional league in the world, so it made sense.

    So why is the English Football League, which at the time it was formed was also the world’s only professional soccer league, not called ‘The World League’? No such delusions of grandma, perhaps…?

  • zingzing

    “If running in conjunction with a ball was all that mattered then tennis, lacrosse, basketball, cricket and hurling would also qualify as ‘football’.”

    so running doesn’t count as using your feet. fair enough. we should have called it “throwball” or “carryball.” doesn’t have a nice ring to it, though, eh?

    “So why is the English Football League, which at the time it was formed was also the world’s only professional soccer league, not called ‘The World League’? No such delusions of grandma, perhaps…?”

    it’s called the premiere league, ain’t it? delusions of grandeur (even if they are, most of the time, earned). (and yes, i understand why it is called such, but that makes “championship league” sound pretty foolish, although i understand why it is called such, although that makes “league 1″ sound pretty foolish…)

    anyway, you europeans make a big deal out of the name “world series” all the time. it’s just starting to make you look petty. it’s a name.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    zing, it’s called the Premier League now. Up until 1992, though, it was simply called the First Division. England is by no means the only country to have a ‘Premier League’, nor was it the first. Scotland’s had one since 1976. (Mind you, they reorganize their league about every three years or so, so who knows what’s going on up there any more.)

    It’s not just the World Series, it’s the fact that the winners of the World Series, the Superbowl, the NBA Finals etc blithely get referred to as ‘world champions’. That’s probably accurate, as the winners of those competitions unquestionably are the best baseball, American football and basketball teams in the world at that point. But that’s only because no-one else in the world plays those games to such a high standard, or at all. Just seems a bit like a craving for approval is all. I mean when I was a kid I invented a game called ‘bounceball’, which basically involved bouncing a tennis ball from one end of the hallway to the other when my parents weren’t looking and trying not to break too many mirrors in the process. I had a rulebook and a league system – even if I had to be all the teams myself because my brother lost interest after ten minutes. Technically, then, the winners of that league were world champions… but who cares?

    No, the delusions of grandma held by we English are far more elegant and subtle. The governing body of football in England is the Football Association. The senior professional league in England (until 1992) is/was the Football League. The governing body for tennis in England is the Lawn Tennis Association. The governing body for rugby in England is the Rugby Football Association. D’you see a pattern here…?

  • zingzing

    if i see a pattern, it’s liking your own country’s sports.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    No, zing, the pattern is the word those governing bodies’ names are NOT prefaced with.

    All those sports were invented in England, so it seemed superfluous, when the organizations in question were created, to call them The English Football Association, or the English Lawn Tennis Association or what have you. That’s our conceit, which demonstrably is more subtle than you Seppos’. The fact that all those sports are now played around the world, often to a far higher standard than in their country of origin*, is neither here nor there.

    * Especially in the case of tennis. The national newspapers print the headline ‘Brits Crash Out’ automatically on the first Tuesday of the Wimbledon fortnight. It’s always accurate.

  • zingzing

    the english certainly do like to point out their englishness. i wonder if the pool (billiards?) term “english” was coined by an englishman?

  • zingzing

    hrm. seems like it’s american. i wonder what the angle is.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Never heard that term. Probably is American.

    Over in Britain we play the far more civilised, skilful and tactical game of snooker, which is one of the few global sports which we still dominate – I’d say about 90 of the top 100 snooker players are from the British Isles. Of course it’s still not a truly international sport – Thailand is crazy for it for some reason, it’s the second most popular sport in China after basketball, and it’s starting to make headway on the Arabian peninsula and in continental Europe, but other than that its main fanbase still lies in Britain.

    The cue skills and tactics are a lot different than those used in pool, but some of the top snooker players still fly out to Vegas occasionally to try their hand at the American game. Quite often kick the Seppos’ butts, too.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    (Have to back up a bit here and acknowledge Matt’s #45. Have the Steelers drafted that linebacker yet?)

  • zingzing

    “Over in Britain we play the far more civilised, skilful and tactical game of snooker…”

    oh, for fuck’s sake.

    “it’s the second most popular sport in China after basketball”

    i’m surprised to hear that…. i woulda picked ping pong.

    and pool is definitely not supposed to be “civilized,” it’s supposed to be drunken, shit-talkin’ fun. you go put your little vests and shiny loafers and cufflinks on, we’ll get drunk. (and last i was in england, all your bars had pool tables, not snooker fookers.)

    “Quite often kick the Seppos’ butts, too.”

    you can probably count on your fingers and exhaust such sports.

    as for “english,” it comes from “body english,” meaning twisting the body before you hit something. in pool/billiards/snooker/whatnot, it means to put a spin on the ball… so you missed my little (widdle) joke up there.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    I have to say I love football. Never been one for American Football as the whole “tight end” thing just doesn’t cut it for me. Most of these American Football players are anything but, um, tight. Sorry,in advance, for the perverse humor.

    My nephew’s maternal grandfather was coach of the Manchester team for years. When he passed, the team, the community, in fact a good part of Britain mourned his passing. I was amazed at the outpouring of love for this man. That’s what I envy about professional sports in Europe as opposed to the U.S. Around the globe professional sports are more about the sport than the franchises, branding fees, and exorbitant salaries.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    My nephew’s maternal grandfather was coach of the Manchester team for years.

    Was that Sir Matt Busby by any chance, Silas?

    Great man, great coach.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    i was in england, all your bars had pool tables, not snooker fookers

    That’s because a snooker table is twice the size of a pool table and won’t fit in most pubs, at least not if you want to leave room for a bar.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Actually, they have some in Texas, off Fort Hood where I was stationed.

    You shoot snooker a few times, and you’re billiards will improve.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Pool enthusiasts:

    you might enjoy this little video, just a teaser

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Thanks, Roger. Interesting to compare the techniques and strategies of pool vs. snooker.

    Here’s snooker at its best: a video of my favourite player, Jimmy White, making a 147 break – the biggest possible score – at the 1992 World Championship. It was only the second time a maximum had ever been achieved at the Worlds. Enjoy.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That was great, Dreadful. Watched some games by Hendry and Ronnie O. They’re all greats.
    By impression, though, was that snooker featured smaller billiard balls and pockets.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Snooker balls are slightly smaller and lighter than pool balls. The pockets are a tad smaller as well. Not THAT much smaller, though. The difference seems greater because the table used in snooker is twice the size of a pool table.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I get you. The table is enormous when you first see it. But if you go by the UTube videos – all great, BTW – you wouldn’t know the difference.

  • Bliffle

    SnOOOOOker is a great game, and easily eclipses pool as a skill.

    Those pocket openings are significantly narrower so it’s easy to miss a shot that would fall on a pool table.

    Pool tables used to have a minimum size of 4.5 X 9 ft. (nowadays they are sometimes only 4 x 8) whereas snooker tables are at least 5 x 10 and 6 x 12 for international tournaments.

  • popopo

    Americans want to believe that only reason football is the most popular sport in the world is because It’s cheap sport, American sports are not that expensive to play, but nobody watch american sports, because American sports are boring. only reason american sports are popular in america is because It’s american sports. american sports will NEVER be popular in the world. Football is the most popular sport because It requires various physical abilities and most exciting to watch. Popularity of american sports speak how boring those are. I know because I watched american sports and never watch again.

  • zingzing

    “I know because I watched american sports and never watch again.”

    impeccable credentials.

  • Robert

    Futbol and Rugby are the two greatest games on the planet. I for one am a American who is addicted to the international drama. Its a shame setanta will no longer broadcast in the USA I will miss Rugby

  • Tyler

    Soccer is already popular. They just dont have the T.V. popularity yet. Many people love to play the game.

  • Michael

    [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

    Soccer is much more exciting to watch than ALL of american sports. NASCAR, Football, Baseball…ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Nascar and baseball have to be the most boring sports ever, and football has more time not playing than playing.

  • jjj

    soccer is a boring sport period

  • Andrea

    Soccer is not a sport for 3rd world countries only, that is not the rason why it’s popular in Latin America, it’s also popular in Europe. Don’t forget that England are the creators of soccer. For baseball all you need is a bat and a ball and practice makes the master, not the money. For baskeball same rule applies as well as soccer.
    Name one player from the MLB, NHL, or NBA that’s a Dr., engineer, or that has a Ph.D? Not to mention that Argentina has a pretty strong basketball team & has defeated the US, also Argentina does well in golf too, Chile has excellent tennis players & what do you say about that? 3rd world country sport?

    It’s offensive when comments like are said about a sport cause it diminishes countries. A great sport is not based on how much money the person has to play, but how good of a player he is & how many people become fans.
    The world prefers soccer, a lot of people here in the US like soccer too. There’s is no need to diminish a sport just cause you don’t like it. Many of the baseball players come from the Dominican Republic & Venezuela and to you these countries are rich? Basketball, many are from Argentina & Bosnia & so on, yeah very wealthy. You see now? Different sports are on the same stand as soccer.
    There was no need for you to talk about money issues cause it is not the reason why most people play soccer.
    It would of been much better to say “Soccer will not be popular in the US, due to the fact that that most of Americans prefer the NFL, NBA, MLB, & NHL” & you wouldn’t sound like a moron as you do now. The other leagues have players from 3rd wolrd countries too, never mind according to you these sports are for rich people only. If ESPN is gonna air the FIFA World Cup, good for them, it’s their money.
    Learn the facts before you make a comment about a sport. I am not a fan of soccer, but of tennis. The reason why your comment makes me mad is because you mention 3rd world countries play soccer cause they can’t afford the other sport. If anyone from another country reads this article is going to think that Americans are morons, I don’t think is fair for the rest of us…

  • kesha

    wow really?

  • Rafael

    That’s funny. Americans saying that soccer is boring…really, what the hell?! What about baseball? Hockey? American Football ?? They suck all suck. In American Football, for example, the game stops all the time. There is no magic to it, it s not a beautiful game. Basketball is kinda cool, but not like soccer. Soccer is the world most famous sport for a reason: it is exciting. There are boring games, of course, but a soccer match can be wonderful.

    Americans just hate that they suck at it. But they are improving. They are doing a great job in the World Cup.