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Are you an American exceptionalist to football?

Are you an American exceptionalist to football?

Old Jun 15th, 2006, 06:31 AM
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Are you an American exceptionalist to football?

There is a thought provoking essay in this weeks Economist newspaper relating America’s coolness to football to an example of American exceptionalism. The piece points out that whereas most of the world will be engaged in what is the closest thing to a global religion, watching the world cup football tournament, not so America, where soccer as it is known, runs a distant runner-up to American sports. For example the last world-cup final was watched by only 3.5 million Americans compared to 95 million for the Super Bowl of American gridiron football. The global audience for the former was close to 5 billion.

So what, one might say, we have our games; the rest of the world has theirs. However it’s an interesting reflection that the country that dominates the world’s popular culture is so marginalized in the world’s most popular sport. And American popular sports have not exported well to the rest of the world, beyond a few instances here and there (baseball in Japan and Central America; basketball in China and Eastern Europe). Plus the article points out that America greets the world cup with an orgy of football bashing and hostility by commentators and politicians. Funny that Budweiser and McDonalds are 2 sponsors!

But the real thrust of the article points out the debate about America’s cultural idiosyncrasy; that American’s like to think of themselves as global trendsetters and standard makers, and yet opinion polls suggest that America is growing more isolationist.

So lets hear it from American travellers to Europe what you think, will you watch any of the world cup games while you are travelling (hard to not get involved when everywhere grinds to a halt around you) and would you have watched any of these games if you were home?

Me, I can take or leave football (although I have a passion for watching Brasil), but when Wimbledon fortnight starts, don’t interrupt my balmy London afternoons!
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 06:46 AM
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France 0, Switzerland 0 - France hasn't scored a World Cup goal since they won the thing in 1998 - too much action to capture my fancy. As they said on my Sports Radio talk show - the World Cup that's where the first team to score wins!
More American kids play 'soccer' than American football - by far - and we, unlike Europe, have many girls and women's soccer teams. Has been this way for years but it does not translate into creating soccer fans - a fun game to play, a bore to watch.
Many Europeans who go into a mania for soccer once every four years may simply be participating in a long cherished cultural thing - nationalism and hooliganism - to wit some U.K. football hooligans who like to get drunk, smash things and yell racist or offensive slogans:
After losing a match in Turkey a few years ago and a controversial match where the English hooligan types got mad at the Turks - chants of "I'd rather be a Paki than a Turk" were often heard - denigrating both Pakistani and Turkish folk. Or in Germany English fans are said to start chanting, while standing up, "Everyone who won the war stand up! And then they also like to give the Nazi salute and put two fingers under their nose to simulate Hitler's mustache whilst chanting Seig Heil! Other european fans can also be hooligans - recently read that several stadiums have erupted in chants of 'monkey, monkey, monkey' to upset some African football star. In amsterdam once i saw soccer fans emptying out of the Olympic Stadium and then overloading trams and then rocking them back and forth, trying to tip them over - the police were called and with Mace dispersed the mainly young hooligans.
That's my major distaste for football besides it being boring - it turns folks not necessarily into hooligans but boorish louts.
I have many relatives in France and none could care much about football and except once every four years would never watch a match.
That said i'll be watching my first soccer match when the finals hit Berlin july 9th - to see the mania and the newly refurbished Olympic Stadium.
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 06:46 AM
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What about Canadians? Are they following the World Cup any more than Americans? Especially with the Oilers still in the running for the Stanley Cup? Are Scandinavians big followers of World Cup? Maybe they are, I really don't know.
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 06:47 AM
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Yes I watch the world cup games when traveling (Europe, Mexico). No I wouldn't have watched them had I been at home in the U.S. Like you said you just can't help but get involved when people are cheering, screaming, honking their car horns, etc. Hey, I even read the sports page of the newspaper after I got home to see how things were going, which is definitely a first for me -lol!
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 06:48 AM
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While more US kids play football (soccer) than baseball now it still cannot get a foothold in the US despite a lot of attempts at marketing it over the years. For the US population in general, it's a little too slow and for most of the US die-hard sports viewing demographic (25-60 males) we never really palyed the game so the strategy and subtlties are lost on us. Not to mention the MLS soccer teams aren't televised in most major markets that they play in.

I'm actually a lot more interested in the World Cup this year since I kinda got caught up in the whole hype while in Europe and this is the first year I've seen it in Hi-Def. Problem is with the time difference in Calif. I can't see most of the games since I'm at work when they are being broadcast.
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 06:52 AM
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I don't unsderstand how so many people can play soccer as kids, then not be interested in watching it. After watching my kids play from the 4 year old team on, it's a treat to see the game being played "right."
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 06:56 AM
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While I enjoy the game, I don't make it the center of my schedule as I do with American college football. As Cadillac1234 says, HD really makes for a brilliant picture and adds another "draw" for me.

THE World's football just can't/won't be big in the USA for one reason among the many, no stop in the action for commercial TV! 45 minutes without a string of advertisements is too much for any TV executive, that is what I feel is the primary reason for it's lack of exposure in the USA.

MvK
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 07:03 AM
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In the southern states of Australia, "Aussie Rules Football", or more affectionately known as "footy", is the dominate winter sport and soccer, as we also refer to it, is a fair way down the list. The country has come alive a bit for the World Cup, but once it is over all (sporting) eyes will be back on the footy. So, in that sense we are similar to the US and their version of football, neither of which are widely played outside of their home countries. (note: in the northern/eastern states, rugby is the dominate winter ball sport).
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 07:12 AM
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Not being American, I probably don't qualify for posting, but reading PalQ's remarks I just have to:

While I truly like the Berlin recommendations by PalQ, the assessment of football and its supporters is so poor it hurts.

Only if one is not at all familiar with the rules of football, a match can be really boring to watch. BTW, the same is true for an American football game.

While there may be a few violent people attracted by football, these really are not an issue. They aren't even fans, just some scum that looks for trouble - just like some gangs in America.

The atmosphere at the World Cup is brilliant - supporters from all sorts of nations congregating peacefully next to each other celebrating their teams, consoling each other in the event of loosing - brilliant.

Regarding the criticism of English football fans making allusions to Germany's Nazi past: Who cares?
The England - Germany relationship, particularly regarding football, has been constituting one of the biggest rivalries in the game for decades (at least since the last English victory over a German team at a World Cup in 1966 and its infamous Wembley-Goal). But let's face it - such a long-established rivalry can only exist if based on lots of respect for the other side. You would not become rivals with a side your team beats up every time they play them.
My experience with English supporters here in Hamburg, during the European Championships in Lisbon 2 years ago and at various club games has alway been very pleasant.
The widely feared English supporters were among the best behaved upon their visit to Frankfurt during this year's World Cup for their first match.
If some of them feel the need to kid the Germans - let them. Most of that cannot be taken seriously anyway. And what's wrong with the winners of WWII standing up, anyway?
Us Germans can stand up for a team that has one the Cup twice since 1966 (as opposed to nil)! We do not have to dedicate a football song to now 40 years of hurt and 40 years of only dreaming...;-)

Thus, I truly think that the contrary of PalQ's assessment is true: The current matches bring out about the best there is in people as they are experiencing and praticing fair-play during and around every match!
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 07:18 AM
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PalQ: to be pedantic, the crowd were in Sunderland in the UK at an England Turkey match, England won both in the UK and Istanbul. This particular bit of "Patriotism" appalled me. Sport does tend to bring out the "boorishness" in people - particularly international sport. The Crowds in recent Ryder cup games have hardly covered themselves in glory.

Football acts as a meeting point for all kinds of people, including thugs. I regularly attend premiership football games, I belong to an internet supporters group through which I have had the pleasure to meet up with many "normal" people, but also with an Oscar winning director, a Professor of European studies in Australia, A lecturer in Astrophysics at the University of California and numerous others that could hardly be described as hooligans.
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 07:24 AM
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I think it's generally understood that "football" hooligans are hooligans first - they simply attach themselves to football because that's where group loyalties already exist that can provide them with a cover for what they really want to do - indulge in mob violence. In other cultures they find other things to leech on to.
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 07:27 AM
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PalQ you read far too many tabloids that stereo type all football fans as hooligans, if you payed a little more attantion you would see that there has in the past been some trouble with a very small minority of so called fans from many countries. The very vast majority of supporters go to watch the football and enjoy the game. The UK and German police and Government have identified these minority of trouble makers and confiscated their passports, those that didn't show up with their passports have been tracked down and arrested. I think the UK has a very positive approach to this cancer, sadly Germany and Polish fans have just last night been at the center of violence, why?
It has been suggested that tensions over the history of the 2 countries such as what happened in WW2 may have contributed.
So it is unfair to say that specifically English fans perform in this way.

Mucky
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 07:40 AM
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I don't watch any type of games..I am not into sports.

I never thought about this until reading this thread..none of my numerous friends in Italy take an interest in football (soccer). So I would assume not all Europeans are all that interested.
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 07:43 AM
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I absolutely love soccer and am very excited about the World Cup games. I am already registered for a "porra" which is sort of like a betting grid in that you are hoping your team will win because then you win something (in the ase of our porra, the bar buys you a drink). I am so excited about it!

Soccer is (for me) as fun to watch as basketball (also a favorite of mine) and I never did understand why it did not take off. When I was in high school we had a fabulous team but it got so little support compared to football. I guess that is Texas.
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 07:44 AM
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Mucky - yes i agree with your last sentence and i am cognizant that there are other hooligans besides the English, though they seem to have more hooliganism than other countries or at least it's more publicized i guess.
americans get passionate about sports, much more than Europe in general in my experience - but i've never heard to police having to target fans to be banned from attending games -never - passports confiscated??? I don't even see how this is legal even in UK under European treaties. This is what i don't understand - why hooliganism have become twinned with football in Europe - even though the vast majority of football fans are not hooligans as you say.
But the nationalism unleashed during the World Cup i think may be just that and not any real love of watching soccer - it could be cricket or tiddly-winks championships that were being held and the mania could be the same.
Well anyway sorry for highlighting the English football louts - indeed as the Heysel tragedy in Brussels pointed out other countries fans can be just as bad.
And though American football fans may get upset with referee calls, our referees aren't threatened with death when making some disastrous call as ones have been in some South American stadiums where refs on occasion had to be rescued by police from fans ire.
It's just that - that football provokes hooliganism and fans get carried away with passions in threatening refs or even as i read football players themselves who muck up. And though these may be a minority of fans that it happens on a fairly wide scale i deplore.
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 07:55 AM
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PalQ:

>>It's just that - that football provokes hooliganism and fans get carried away with passions in threatening refs or even as i read football players themselves who muck up. And though these may be a minority of fans that it happens on a fairly wide scale i deplore.<<


Approx. 300 last night out of approx. 20 million is a fairly wide scale? Not in my book!

Where does your prejudice stem from? It appears that knowledgable posters here agree on the point that hooliganism and football actually have nothing to do with each other, whatsoever. Football matches are just platforms for some violent thugs, just as willit, PatrickLondon and Mucky have pointed out.
Maybe it's about time that you revised your antipathy and stereotypes?!
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 08:02 AM
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Since most Americans are descended from European immigrants, I wonder why they didn't bring football with them. It's as much a mystery to me as how yanks and europeans write dates.
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 08:10 AM
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We live on the West coast and are watching the live broadcast of the World Cup in the kitchen every morning as we prepare breakfast and make lunches. So I guess we're not among the "exceptionalists".

Soccer is very popular here, in the Seattle area, and not only among the kids. There is a very active adult league and a number of our friends (in their 50's) play.
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 08:10 AM
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Plus the article points out that America greets the world cup with an orgy of football bashing and hostility by commentators and politicians.

Really? Did they give some examples to back that assertion up?

Let's face facts, soccer is too boring to attract wide spread interest in the USA.
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 08:12 AM
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Okay I'll wade in...
Couple reasons Americans don't bother with soccer:
1 - it is boring. Barely any scoring. No action.
2 - too egalitarian. We like games that individuals can showcase individual talents, whether it is a superstar basketball player, a home run king, an ace pitcher, a great quarterback or receiver, etc. Or a Tiger Woods, one guy.
3 - pretentious. This is my biggest problem with soccer (and I do watch world cup on weekends). A player gets kicked in the shin. He goes down, screaming in agony, rolling around, crying like a baby. They bring out a stretcher. I'm thinking 'career ending injury'. But no. He's back on the field in minutes, all better.
When a stretcher comes onto the field during an American football game, the next stop is the hospital. Or the morgue.

At bottom I think it comes down to the egalitarian socialist mindset versus the individualist, capitalist mindset.

my $.02

(and by the way, last nights Stanley Cup game was GREAT)
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