Editor's note: This article first appeared more than two years ago, but with the World Cup a week away, it seems appropriate to reprint it. It consistently gets passionate (and often over-the-top or jingoistic) comments.
Weighing in on the tired debate over why Americans fail to love soccer as passionately as the rest of the world, an editorial on football.co.uk offers the following four reasons: 1) the sport is not overcommercialized; 2) it's too multicultural; 3) "homosexuals;" and 4) not enough points are scored.
Wait. Homosexuals? Please explain.
Soccer does not explicitly promote homosexuality, if it does at all, but in America, it is regarded as a "girly sport." ...The low-impact image of soccer makes it appear less manly and boring to the casual sports fan. In addition, the phenomenon of "diving" in soccer has only added to the "gay" image of soccer. Diving is the act of tripping over by an offensive player with little to no contact from his defender in order to win a free kick. Players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba, and Arjen Robben add dramatics such as loud screams and crying which further emasculate the sport. Homosexuality has always been a controversial issue that Americans have tried to avoid, and a sport like soccer that does not appear to be "manly enough" has failed to attract attention from the US.
By equating homosexuality with anything not "manly" enough to necessitate helmets and pads, the author has (inadvertently) pinpointed one of the major misperceptions that causes most homophobia in sports. But I don't think it explains why this country doesn't love soccer. Nor does it explain why we should. Soccer has thrived in the world for quite a long time without America sanctioning its status as a worthy sport. Americans don't complain that the rest of the world should be fanatical about American football, our most popular sport.
But I do agree that soccer promotes homosexuality. I mean, have you seen Cristiano Ronaldo? Don't even try to tell me you don't feel something. I'll combine my responses to reasons #3 and #4 above by saying that soccer would be more popular with this American if it was a higher scoring game, thereby giving the players more opportunities to rip off their shirts and run around hugging each other.
Article was first published March 27, 2008.