The Beautiful Game

Beckham is headed for L.A. His wife has already joined the paparazzi surrounded Hollywood circuit and now the question is will America care as much about his on field performance as what he is wearing and who he is partying with? There are many theories on why the world’s game has never caught on here in the states. One of them suggests that we American’s do not embrace sports we did not create and therefore dominate. Since a list of these sports includes curling and that crazy Thai thing with the wicker ball and the low net, there may be some truth to this. Another suggests that since the non-stop flow of a soccer game offers little opportunity for advertisers that it has not received wide coverage (our capitalist tendencies overwhelming our competitive ones). While I acknowledge that this lack of coverage is a fact, lack of easily available coverage has little to do with public interest. We will always seek out what we want even if it is not readily obtainable (The volumes of search traffic seeking pictures of Brittany’s nether region or Paris Hilton’s cell phone are submitted as evidence here). I actually think that the game is simply not simpatico with the American view on life.

We Americans bitch about the frequency and length of commercial breaks associate with all of our sporting entertainment and yet when offered an alternative we call it slow or boring (yet baseball continues to be America’s game, curious no?). We actually like the short snippets of excitement as it allows us time to pursue our other passions such as trips to the kitchen for food or beer, or calls with friends. An unacceptable violation during the Super Bowl or our team’s “big game” but often initiated during others. The country that invented fast food, drive-thru’s, ATMs, and MTV wants its sports the same way…immediately and in short bursts. No long term focus required by spectators or sustained effort required by the flow of the game. Soccer is a sport for people who spend hours in café’s reading the paper, or lingering for even longer over a meal with friend and family. Soccer is a sport for people that see the diplomatic strategy in testing one side of a team’s defense then the other rather than using brute force to drive it down the opponent’s throat. Soccer is a game for those who realize that a tie is not a loss and may lead to a bigger and more important victory. America is a young country, brash, striving, dismissing of the rules and weight of history which limit so many other countries. It is this youth that has allowed us to achieve so much. But someday we will realize that this is a marathon and not a sprint and then we will have a big family meal and sit down and watch the beautiful game.

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