By Travis Stahl
Losing sometimes reveals more about the character of competitors than winning does. Unless of course you deny that you ever lost in the first place, than I guess it reveals some sort of mental disorder. Right now, Americans are putting up some sort of mental block when it comes to logically talking about soccer. People can’t face the reality of soccer in this country. America tried, it really did, but we lost the war on soccer.
As hard as America tried to make people in the United States like soccer as much as they like other sports, it’s just not working for us. Sure, in Europe, soccer is the greatest thing in the world. Do you want to know why? They don’t have anything else; soccer is the only sport they have. Here in America, we have football, baseball, basketball, NASCAR and hockey to occupy our sporting time. There just isn’t enough sporting interest to go around to put soccer on that list also.
Soccer isn’t losing out though due to a lack of effort. YMCA’s have indoor and outdoor youth soccer, middle and high schools have soccer teams for boys and girls and there are countless summer camps for soccer. But nothing comes from these building blocks. At this point there have been millions of kids cycling through these programs but we don’t care. Sure, fans can get a little interested once every few years when some U.S. soccer team gets hot during a World Cup tournament or something. But that interest quickly disappears.
The few superstars that we do see develop on the soccer field are almost always girls. This is typically the case because female athletes tend to play with more passion which is what we want from our star athletes. It’s hard to find a male soccer player who rises to stardom in the U.S. who plays with fire and passion and draws crowds in to him. David Beckham doesn’t count, he’s British. Do you think I’m wrong about this? I can name you a handful of female soccer stars right now (Mia Hamm, Hope Solo, Brandi Chastain) without blinking an eye. I can’t name you a single American soccer star that is male.
You put up a good fight America, you really did. It was kind of like when my wife made us try butternut squash for dinner one night. I tried it, I’m sure some people like it, but most people would rather have a hamburger. Soccer is the butternut squash, it’s just not for enough people in America to make it relevant on a permanent basis.