It’s that time again, once every four years, when nations from around the globe gather…
… to ponder why Americans don’t like soccer.* None of the typical explanations are compelling. Thus I rant, first in a series, in part because it will tweak eric, tongue firmly in cheek, and you may talk about games that you’re watching in comments if you like, or you may rant back:
The explanation: “Soccer would be popular in the U.S., but it can’t be televised profitably because there are no natural breaks for advertisements.”
The attraction: It cleverly posits that the simple sport is being kept down by evil American capitalism and the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar.
The problem: Oh please. First, the plausibility of this explanation seems to rely on the twin assumptions that a) the only viable advertising scheme is the one used in the NFL, which relies on lots of breaks in the action (yet we somehow manage to televise hockey and basketball) and b) none of the societies in which soccer is popular have television advertisements or any interest in making money from the sport, presumably because, as is traditional in World Cup-related short ads, the overwhelming impression of soccer in the rest of the world is that everyone plays in bare feet with balls made of old turnips, except for Beckham, at least once he married Posh Spice.
Yet, as a younger woman, I had to ask a friend why, though he supported Chelsea, his kit said “Fly Emirates” across the front.
Second, the plausibility of this explanation requires belief in the proposition “Americans can’t figure out how to make money from something.” Think about this. Let it simmer. We are the land of the Free and the Home of Billy the Big-Mouthed Bass. Someone is making millions on the goddamn Lolcats. I’m sure we could figure out how to make money from televising soccer were there the interest in doing so.
*Yes, I’m calling the game “soccer.” I’m American. That’s what it’s called here. I know that in other countries they use terms that translate to “football”, but I don’t see why that should affect me much, as I’m not normally in the habit of modifying American English to be direct translations of phrases in foreign languages. Moreover, I don’t care what the English call it; if it’s dark and my car won’t start in the parking lot, I’m looking under the hood with a flashlight. We’re supposed to be separated by a common language.**
** “Because there’s a fucking “h” in it.”