Friday, June 12, 2009

I don't know why Americans don't care about soccer.

My Google news settings default to "World," and the "Latest Headlines" feed on my Firefox toolbar comes from the BBC; yes, it's a little precious, but I haven't changed it, because I like having the broader perspective.

The news for the last day or so has been all about Ronaldo, and Real Madrid's plan to dominate the world soccer community by acquiring not only him but also Kaka.

Everyone in the world cares about this, except for the United States. I added those links because I needed to look up Kaka myself, and know Ronaldo only because of his guest spot on that "Simpsons" episode where Lisa wanted to bend it like Beckham.

Every few years -- sometimes in connection with the World Cup, sometimes in connection with another cultural or sporting event -- the American press decides that soccer is about to make its major breakthrough into the American sporting consciousness, but it hasn't happened yet. Relatives and friends of mine have played soccer seriously, even earning college scholarships, but a professional soccer career has never been a real possibility for any of them.

My nephews go to soccer camp, and few things are more adorable than a dozen tiny boys and girls chasing a ball around a field -- but somewhere in their late teens, kids just lose interest. NASCAR and professional wrestling, two things I'd argue aren't sports at all, have exponentially larger fan bases in the United States than professional soccer. Why is this?

Edited to add: Since it's consumed my life this week, I keep forgetting to mention that Gaslight's summer musical, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, opens tonight in Hallowell, with a gala reception to follow. Performances continue tomorrow, Sunday, and next Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Don't miss it! Call 207-626-3698 for reservations.

What I Read This Week

Alexandra Sokoloff, THE UNSEEN. A classic haunted-house story in the tradition of the greatest of them all, The Haunting of Hill House. Professor Laurel MacDonald is drawn into the investigation of a haunted house, disguising her own motives but also unaware of her academic partner's. Sokoloff doesn't over-explain, and leaves several questions spookily unresolved.

Allison Burnett, UNDISCOVERED GYRL. Allison's a friend of mine, but even if he weren't, this would be one of the best books I've read so far this year. Undiscovered Gyrl is the journal, written as a series of blog posts, of 17-year-old Katie Kampenfelt, a bright and restless young woman taking a year off between high school and college. "Katie" is a pseudonym, and Katie admits she's an unreliable narrator, changing names and details so that her many blog readers can't identify her; all the same, she's disarmingly honest about her feelings and her flaws. Undiscovered Gyrl is full of sex and drugs and the bad decisions many young women make, but anyone who's offended by it simply isn't paying attention. The book reminds us exactly how dangerous adolescence is, and makes me grateful, once again, to have survived it. It'll be out in August.

Pam Bachorz, CANDOR. I've been reading a lot of young-adult novels lately, for some reason; this was an advance copy I picked up at BEA, of a book that comes out in September. It's a solid thriller about a teenaged boy who lives in the perfect Florida town of Candor, where The Messages make everyone model citizens. It's a cross between 1984 and The Stepford Wives, as if told by Lois Duncan; pleasantly creepy, and it would have packed a bigger punch if I hadn't still been reeling from Undiscovered Gyrl.


Claire said...

It's weird, isn't it? I never played soccer, but just about everyone I know played at some point when they were younger.

Zach actually does follow soccer, especially since it's qualifying time. Right now, of course, most of the games are taking place in other time zones, which probably accounts for general lack of American interest, but it's puzzling why it has not caught on as a domestic sport. DC United is one of the only good local teams, too! Think of the revenue, if only people cared.

Claire said...

Oh and I forgot to mention--the package you sent arrived yesterday, so thank you! I am going to read the book by the pool this weekend as long as it does not rain again.

Anonymous said...

Glad you enjoyed CANDOR! Lois Duncan is an all-time fave of mine, I was so excited to see you mention her!

Anonymous said...

Guess David Beckham playing for LA Galaxy didn't do the trick after all. And all that money spent on promoting him and soccer in the US. Darn shame!

We did, however, stop in front of his alleged house in LA last summer and Therese had her picture taken in what was supposedly his driveway. He still rules here and we hope to welcome him back in Europe soon.


Anonymous said...

I care about soccer
my highschool had no American football team.

Baze said...

nice article. It is strange. I was at the Sky Blue FC game on Saturday and there were people behind me who used to play soccer (I think they were in high school or college by how they were acting and speaking) and one of them said, "Watching this is making me miss playing." I was thinking the same thing. It's not like there's a lack of venues, there are plenty of Travel and ODP teams across the states.

I love the game. If it's on TV, I will watch it. It doesn't matter to me if it is men's or women's, youth or professional.

steve said...

Actually I think that Professional Wrestling pretty much admitted to NOT being a sport when they changed their name from WWF to WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment).
Some kind of legal manuever so they aren't regulated or for merchandising or something.


Baze said...

The WWF changed their name to WWE because the WWF was already taken by the World Wildlife Fund, and World Wildlife Fund sued for rights of the brand and are now the only WWF.