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War of Words

Soccer, to many Americans, it’s a sport they couldn’t care less about.   The rest of the World however, absolutely goes crazy for the sport.  I know what you’re thinking, “But its soooooo boring” “All they do is dive” and my personal favorite “It’s a stupid sport.”  I personally have followed professional soccer, in both club and country settings for close to 15 years.  Yes, it does have drawbacks, especially for someone who is just starting to watch it, or someone who already has a negative bias towards the sport.   Yes, for your average everyday sports fan, soccer does have its turn offs, but it also can be just as exciting as any other sport that you are watching today.

Soccer is on the rise in the USA, MLS currently has the third best average attendance of all major sports behind the NFL and MLB.  They are making huge strides as well, to phase out pieces of the game that make it so uninteresting in Europe and other countries.  Diving and Flopping have been phased out by a review process that allows MLS to suspend and/or fine a player.  You can’t create “Super Teams” either, as you’re only allowed 3 “designated players” or players who are paid over $150,000/year, however this figure is also based on age as well.  This is to keep teams who make more money from fielding a team that would destroy parity in the league.  Parity in the MLS is also one of the best as far as the major sports go too.  This past season, the team with the best record was the New York Red Bulls, who tallied 59 points, which was only one ahead of Sporting Kansas City, and two points ahead of Portland and Salt Lake City respectively.  The only other league out there with a similar parity with shifts in records and playoff teams and playoff races is the NFL.  With parity like that, it’s easy to keep fans from every city involved when it has to come down to the last week of the season to decide your teams’ fate.  Am I saying that you should just go out and be a soccer fan?  No, not at all, I don’t expect everyone out there to like it, just like everyone doesn’t like the NFL, NBA, NHL, etc.  I just want you to give it a chance, that’s all.  Whether you want to tune in to the World Cup, MLS, or English Premier League on NBC Sports, just give it a chance, you might actually like it.

Now, I know there isn’t an MLS team in Detroit, so where the draw is for me as a Detroit sports fan?  Well, there is Detroit City FC.   They are part of the NPSL [National Premier Soccer League] which would be considered about two steps under the MLS.  If you haven’t been to a match, I 100% recommend that you attend at least one.  The atmosphere that they have at matches is what makes the sport, as there is always something to play for.   All of their matches are played at Cass Tech High School, and it is a sight to behold, that’s for sure.  These DCFC fans are absolutely rabid about their team, and it’s great.  Soccer is growing in the USA, and it shouldn’t take an “every 4 year” event to show us how much we can actually enjoy it.  However I am thankful for the World cup, as it does draw new fans to the sport every time it comes around, providing everyone with a reason to cheer for their country and show why they’re a force to be reckoned with.  Now let’s not forget that the USMNT plays Belgium on Tuesday, and whether you are a fan or not, this is when the World Cup gets good.  Every game from here on out is a one-and-done format, so every team will be going all out to keep themselves in the running.  Let’s hope that the USMNT can put on a show against Belgium and take us into the next round, and show us why soccer should be considered a major sport in the USA.

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Alright, time to be an American about this. It’s crap.

According to ESPN, soccer is the fastest growing youth sport. I will give soccer that respect, but it is still the fourth most popular youth sport. I also respect the incredible shape the players get in. Running for 45 minutes straight isn’t exactly easy. Being in that great of shape does not make soccer players tougher than other athletes, which many soccer fans seem to believe. Thats where my respect for this game ends.

A fan once told me that embellishment was an accepted part of the game. He happened to be a Mexican soccer fan, and after the Netherlands game, he stopped and screamed up a storm about embellishment. Its that level of hypocrisy from soccer fans around the world. The sport not only refuses to police embellishment at the World Cup level, it rewards it with added time at the end of the game!

Taking away the World Cup, this sport allows teams to draw. A tie game? Name one thing less American than a tie. How many World Wars did America tie? That’s what I thought. On an equally frustrated note, the fact that American Football can still have tie games makes me livid.

In games there are winners and losers. The kind of people that are okay with ties are those who believe everyone deserves a trophy.

The terminology of the game is even incessantly annoying. A team doesn’t have good “Tactics,” they have a good gameplan. Mixing it up during a broadcast for the sake of not using the same words over and over again is fine. It’s just snooty to say “Ronaldo came into this World Cup in excellent form.” He’s playing well! He’s in good shape! Stop using unnecessary words for the sake of sounding superior to other sports. Also, its a FIELD not a PITCH. A pitch is what we pay Justin Verlander to do.

The sport would be better served using sudden death penalty kicks in every game and not rewarding rolling around on the ground in apparent pain only to spring up moments later after wasting a minute of what could be time spent trying to score a rare goal.

What do you think?

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One Comment

  1. Ok, couple of points that you point out as hypocrisy, that in your words, only happens in soccer. First, isnt there a flopping rule in the NHL? And don’t NBA players regularly flop to buy a charge call? Can anyone say BILL LAIMBEER! Is this iron that we are talking about a Detroit sports blog. I guess not all ‘flopping’ is equal?? lol And what about NFL kickers who seem to have a habit of inexplicably ‘falling over’ every time a special team’s defensive player comes a little to close.

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