Monday, June 10, 2002
Soccer should be beloved of Americans, and particularly conservatives. After all, the Italians call it "the beautiful game" (mostly because they don't watch Team USA...), and while we don't agree with Italy on everything, most people are willing to defer to Italian senses of what is beautiful. Soccer also utilizes one of the greatest things in the US: the Imperial system of weights and measures. A soccer field is 100 yards long, with divisions at 6, 18, and 50 yards. The ball itself has a very anti-metric 60 faces, though the newer balls that resemble volleyballs may be designed to thwart this. When America puts its mind to a sport, we dominate. While the announcer this morning snidely remarked that Americans were only interested in sports we'd invented (hockey was created by an American, though basketball came from a Canadian), he also missed the fact that we tend to dominate the summer Olympics and do pretty well at the winter ones as well. Our women's soccer team is one of the best in the world, and won the last Olympics (if I remember correctly). Soccer also doesn't really promote diversity. Who were the top teams in the 1950s? Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Germany, Uruguay, and England (patriotism at its finest!). Who are the top teams now? The same, with the possible additions of Sweden, Spain, and France (snicker) and loss of Uruguay. America is getting better, and may actually make it to the second round. We're actually ranked by FIFA as #13 in the world, right behind #12 England. Furthermore, new participants who work hard and display skill can upset the old powers (France v. Senegal, Portugal v. USA, etc.), which is the very essence of the conservative work ethic. Furthermore, while the lack of scoring is often called a bad thing for soccer, I have to disagree. If you've ever been in a pub when the winning goal was scored by the home team, you know what I mean. Basketball games, with scores of 106-98, are pretty boring, and there's no real sense of accomplishment. Football's better, but it's very common for a team to score every quarter, often with little effort. Baseball is simply one of the dullest sports I know of, rivalling only cricket.
Most importantly, America has its own name for what virtually everyone else calls "football." If that isn't American exceptionalism, I don't know what is.