The World Cup Cometh: Beware The Soccer Haters

By Andrew Dixon, III
Updated: April 21, 2006

MIAMI — The World’s Biggest Sporting Event kicks off in about a month and half. World Cup hosts Germany will open up the 2006 World Cup against Costa Rica on June 9th in Munich. This is the party that soccer fans around the world wait four years for.

The Haters are another story. You know who they are. The sports writers, columnists and talk show hosts who use this time to tell us why soccer is stupid and why no one should care about the World Cup. You know, the Romes, the Kornheisers, the LeBatards,the DeFords, the Chads and the Lupicas for whom disliking soccer isn’t enough.

Their mission and they always choose to accept it, is to spread their hate of the world’s most popular sport across the air waves with the same tired schtick that they roll out every few years: It’s not an American sport.

It’s boring.

I don’t understand it.

The offside rule makes no sense to me.

Why don’t they use their hands?

There aren’t enough commercials.

I actually like these commentators when they talk about other sports (well except for Lupica, I’ve NEVER liked him) but this level of the hypocrisy never ceases to amaze me. Do these guys know that golf isn’t an American sport either? If they don’t like slow paced games why do they wax poetic about golf and pitchers duels?

Why does the offside rule make sense hockey but not in soccer? If the game is so hard to figure out why is it that the NFL Rule book is a thick as an encyclopedia and yet STILL no one can explain that tuck rule that bailed out the Patriots back in 2002? NASCAR highlights consist of the start, the crashes and the finish but somehow THAT’S more exciting than soccer? It’s people DRIVING IN CIRCLES!!!!!

Cue Redman: Whatever man.

I spend virtually no time watching the perpetual left turn that is NASCAR or CBS’ 134 hours of golf coverage. I also spend the same amount of time telling others why they shouldn’t watch if they do.

The Haters, however, will get on ESPN, take up print space in their columns or online from about, say a week from the start of the Cup until just after the trophy celebration, to prattle to their minions how about primitive soccer is, that they won’t be watching and no good and decent American should watch either.

As KRS1 once asked “Why is that?” Is it because the statistics show that more kids play some sort of youth soccer than Little League and they’re afraid that kids will soon leave baseball behind the way that Marvell Wynne, II has? Is there a great fear that athletic guys will gravitate away from football and take up international football the way Eddie Johnson has?

Is it the spanish speaking population that already loves the game that scares them? Do they tremble at the thought of having time taken away from speaking about 3-irons, steroids and NFL Combines? Do we need to hear MORE speculation about Reggie Bush’s draft position?

Marvell Wynne, II  (surfsoccer)

Marvell Wynne, II (surfsoccer)

As a soccer fan, I would love to see mainstream journalists cover soccer more. It would be great to hear the Two Live Stews devote a segment to MLS or see Mike Wilbon spend Five Good Minutes with DaMarcus Beasley. HBO Sports’ Bryant Gumbel always has a standing invite with me to go see a US-Mexico match, maybe at a qualifer in a few years.

Maybe John Saunders can go Outside the Lines with Fabrice Noel of the Colorado Rapids who’s trying bring his family to the US from Haiti where they are under death threats. I don’t think it’s too much to ask considering that ESPN will devote extended coverage of a bunch of 11 and 12 year olds playing baseball.

I know. America’s not ready for that. That’s fine, for now. But the Haters need to chill with the soccer bashing. We soccer fans not trying to steal your baseball loving children and send them off to train with Real Madrid. We don’t want coverage of the Bulgarian 3rd division.

In fact, we’re not really looking for soccer to be the lead story on SportsCenter every night. What we do want is decent coverage, done with the same respect given to say, hockey or tennis with marketing that rivals that of the X-Games. I always see in game adverts for Sunday Night baseball during MLS telecasts, why can’t the reverse be a reality?

In other words, Haters, treat the World’s Most Popular Sport with some respect. I’d rather the Haters simply not talk about the game (which they normally don’t do anyway) then hear their same routine about how soccer is taking attention away from Vinjay Singh’s missed putt on 12.

The Haters won’t ruin my enjoyment of the World Cup.

I just fear that they will convince a curious fan who might otherwise tune in to watch a NASCAR crash instead.