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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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July 2, 2014 - 1:35 pm
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Soccer haters, you’ve had your fun. You’ve mocked kicky ball, you’ve said it’s socialist, you’ve tarred it as communist. You’ve bragged that you don’t know anything about soccer, and that you don’t want to know anything about soccer, and you’ve smeared anyone who does know anything about soccer as either a socialist, a communist, or a pantywaist.

Tell that to Tim Howard. If you have the guts.

howard-arms

 

So here’s the deal. Soccer is not only not any of the things that you haters claim, it’s actually much more of a capitalist sport than you realize. Because you don’t know anything about it. Here are five reasons that soccer is actually capitalist and ruthlessly American.

1. Soccer rewards success and punishes failure ruthlessly.

The NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB are mostly static leagues. Regardless of their win-loss records, the leagues keep the same teams around year in and year out. Franchises like the Detroit Lions become embarrassments that go on for years on end, yet they are never booted out of the NFL. Loser teams stick around in all of the US top sports leagues. That’s also true of US Major League Soccer. Teams move from town to town every once in a while, but they’re still the same team nearly all the time. Even if they get a new name.

But in the world’s soccer leagues, if you suck, you get kicked out of the league. And if you’re good and finish at the top of your league and you’re in a league that’s lower than the top league, you get promoted up to the big league. Of the 20 teams that make up England’s Premiere League every year, three have been promoted because of their accomplishments in the second-tier Championship League the season before. And the worst three Premiere League teams got relegated down to that second-tier league. If they want to get back to the top league, they have to earn it by finishing high enough to either earn automatic promotion or go into a playoff to earn it. Any EPL team can get relegated if they have a bad enough season. The same is true for leagues all across Europe, wherever there are enough teams to have multiple leagues with tiered systems.

One year of suckitude and you and your club get sent down to a lower league. That’s hard core. US sports could learn a thing or two from the creative churn of soccer’s relegation-promotion system.

And by the way, a good player in a lower league team can find himself scooped up directly into a top team in a top league if his play is good enough. It’s all about how well he plays as an individual. If you shine even on a horrible team, you’ll move to a good team.

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Top Rated Comments   
I'm delighted for you. You enjoy spending hours watching a soccer ball being kicked back and forth endlessly. I don't. To me, it's like watching Brownian motion in a microscope -- an endless pattern of random motion.
What I really can't understand is the tedious efforts by soccer aficionados to convince me, and others of similar mindset, to enjoy a sport that leaves us in a state of utter boredom. You just consumed 5 PJM pages with spurious appeals to all manner of supposed nobility, political righteousness, inventiveness (Thomas Edison), and even capitalism (whereupon you lost the Liberals).
As a famous libertarian of the olden days used to say, Stifle Yourself!
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
To many people, I am one, soccer is BORING. Enough said.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
OK, here it goes.

Stop it. Just…stop it.

I like your work and writings, but I am not reading this article.

You want to know the real #1 reason soccer haters hate soccer? The #1 thing about the sport that gets on our last nerve like Quint going after a chalkboard? Oh, a soccer hater may not immediately think this is the #1 reason they hate soccer, but once it is pointed out they will say: “Yes, that’s why I hate soccer most. That is why…I hate that so very much.”

It is the relentless, unending, drumbeat of soccer fans and media-types telling us why we really should love soccer. It is an unceasing grind. It is exhausting.

This is where soccer fans and leftist collide. They can’t just enjoy the damn game. That’s not enough. Everyone must enjoy…Nay! Love the Beautiful Game! Descent will not be tolerated…they will hound you and hound you. They will run article after article shaming the US for not complying with world opinion…for not worshipping its deep strategies and exquisite elegance. Every news broadcast will take a backhanded swipe at America’s sinful sickness of disinterest. They will explain and if they fail to convert...they will explain again...for eternity, if necessary.

Other sports fans don’t do this…because other sports fans aren’t so deeply insecure as soccer fans…so needing recognition and acceptance.

It makes me want to channel Skyler White: shut up…shut up…Shut Up…Shut up…Shut Up! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!

We are now out of the World Cup. You can’t even appeal to patriotic support of our team. Stop it. For the love of all that is good and holy, stop it. Step away from the computer…come back in 4 years.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (96)
All Comments   (96)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Soccer is boring but baseball is worse.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
I went to ten games Pele played. He did some amazing things, but failed to score a single goal, even the inevitable shootout at the end, where one thought his talents would be displayed to the fullest.
It is a great game to play. It is a stupid game to watch.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
If people who like soccer have to try so hard to convince others it is a good "sport", maybe they need to re-evaluate.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Soccer, chasing a ball around.
That what the Good Lord put dogs on the earth for.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Americans already know they can "love" soccer.
They just don't see the point.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
I detest the fakery at the core of soccer.
Basically, it's a dishonest sport.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
I still think it's for pansies, so one player played with a broken nose boo hoo, in Football if you weren't armored, players would Die! As it is many players are crippled for life, or have career ending injuries, and still a few Die each year. Every time I see those highlight videos of Soccer players faking injuries, I get disgusted, that's Soccer to me.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
You're right soccer is awesome. Not 'better' than anything else necessarily, but a lot of fun. And few few commercials.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry, didn't mean to "report" your post.
Damned opera. :(
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah I keep forgetting - Americans haven't figured out how to exploit soccer without commercials.

Soccer's popularity in Brazil is exaggerated. It's not anything like the U.S. addiction to and support for multiple sports whereas soccer's the only big deal in Brazil and can't come close to matching baseball, college hoops, hockey, college football, the NFL or the NBA here if any of those were taken alone.

The truth is those countries aren't very sophisticated top to bottom in their cultural interests. After being in the Third World for awhile American's seem like energizer bunnies. They collect everything in sight, paint, sew, write, play music, do demolition derby, hunt, fish, and that's just mom and pop hobbies. There's nothing like that in the Third World.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
You are so correct! I worked two jobs went to school and did my man's share on the ranch and yet my mother still road my ass about my room and laying about reading fiction...
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
I watched my young son play soccer on an intramural team in a league coached by South American farm team members. He was easy to spot, since he was usually the only blonde haired player. He was bewildered when he started, as was I, but eventually, he began to understand the game and learned to do the fancy kicks the coaches taught their sons. I loved the game and laughed the whole time. When it was time to move back home to Canada, he was anxious to join an indoor league in Calgary. The young Canadian players resented the fancy moves and kicks my son learned from the farm league coaches with an attitude related to the opinions expressed here. My son became disinterested after being called a "hotdog" and moved on to boxing. I lost interest in the game, after he quit, but I won't say I don't appreciate what it takes to play a high level of soccer. I played football in college, but my son was too small for that sport. I looked forward to watching and learning about soccer, and while I was involved as a parent it was fun and exciting.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Great column, thanks! The US/Belgium (especially the second half) was about as exciting as anything I've seen in sports.

Soccer isn't for everybody, just as boxing or baseball aren't everyone's taste. Bryan's article is about why Americans can love the game, not why they must love the game.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
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