I am not a soccer snob. I hate phrases like “England are a better side.” I avoid the word “nil” when I mean “zip,” “zero” or “nothing.” I won’t insist on “match” when I mean “game,” and I’m offended by Major League Soccer’s pretentious use of words like “United” and “Real” in its team names. (Since when was Salt Lake City “royal?”)
I also laugh out loud every time I hear an English soccer commentator describe “the wave” as having originated at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico City.
But listen up, conservatives: I’m not telling you to love soccer, just to stop dissing it, and perhaps even to give it a chance. Europeans’ love for the game is no reason for you to dislike it. Do you dislike red wine, too?
Soccer is an exciting, fast-paced game in which tactics and strategy play a huge role (it’s all about finding the open space, moving the ball without letting it come under too much pressure, creating and building up scoring opportunities) but cannot be reliably planned in advance. Everything must always be improvised. There are no committee meetings or “huddles,” no breaks between every play or every pitch, and each goal is a thing of beauty with huge significance for the game.
Think of the game as a metaphor for the free market at work, with its constant ebb and flow, its rare opportunities and its creative destruction.
We don’t often get a chance to watch really good soccer in this country. But we’re getting such an opportunity right now with the World Cup – so take advantage! Americans seldom have the opportunity to be the underdog. And consider the results of this current World Cup so far. Doesn’t it warm your heart that the French, the English, the Spanish, the Germans, and the Italians – but especially the French – have been humiliated in a series of lousy performances against second and third-tier powers?
The French even went on strike, and got their just deserts in the form of defeats at the hands of hard-working Mexican and South African teams.
You won’t see that happen in a game of baseball.