Everyone still thinks that Americans hate soccer, and to be fair, the World Cup is still not nearly as big a deal here as in Brazil or Latin America. There are many reasons that Americans aren't crazy about the sport, and the more I think about it, the more reasons I come up with. Americans prefer homegrown sports (baseball, basketball, American football) to foreign sports (soccer, rugby), since they've become so ingrained in our culture. In sports as in many other areas, Americans have short attention spans and want instant gratification, neither of which jive very well with soccer. Plus, Americans tend to prefer regional and domestic championships to international games, not to mention that we are very set in our ways.
Despite how big American football is, it can never compared to Brazilian soccer culture, something you are practically born into, something that is often a fundamental part of each family history and personal identity. Americans don't quite have the same devotion as Brazilians, like this adorable little girl who sobbed, "My life is over!" when her soccer team lost a game. "How could they do this to me? I root for them!" she wailed.
We also don't have the same cult of devotion to athletes like Brazilians have, where Pelé has become something of a deity. (If you haven't watched this wonderful commercial/short film about Pelé's last goal, you should - plus, this one has subtitles).
But like I mentioned last week, Americans seem to be paying more attention to the World Cup. When Landon Donovan scored the winning goal during the last game, putting the US in the next round, I was at the office, but I heard screams echoing from people watching the game. Those screams were heard all over the country, like these videos show below (the Arkansas guy is especially entertaining).
That night, The Daily Show joked that the US had now joined "the Third World" now that we're becoming a soccer country.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|World Cup 2010: Into Africa - US Beats Algeria|
But to me, we're on the right path to joining the rest of the world in what is essentially the world's only global sport, one that manages to unite people like no other game. The United States' political and economic power is eroding, and it's time we got off our high horse and joined the rest of the planet in one of the few things we can all love. Loving soccer is one of the simplest and most gratifying things we can do to gain goodwill outside our borders and to win the respect of our fellow soccer fans--even if we can't agree to call it football.