Rooting for US Soccer
When I initially saw Ann Coulter’s piece admonishing Americans for their interest in soccer and the World Cup, my immediate assumption was that I was reading a clever bit of satire from the Onion. “Oh ho,” I chuckled to myself, “too funny.”
To my chagrin, as I read on, I realized that her piece, “Any Growing Interest in Soccer a Sign of Nation’s Moral Decay,” was entirely serious. If you’ve not read it, I’ll briefly summarize it for you here:
Soccer is a communist, anti-American sport.
That’s it. That is really the entire thesis.
There are a couple factors that Coulter points to in order to reach her conclusion, and I would like to briefly respond to a few of them here.
Individual achievement is not a big factor in soccer.
First of all, yes it is. Individual athletic talent is highly valued within US Men’s Soccer and across the globe. Specialization in both a tactical and technical sense is highly sought after. Since soccer is such a fluid game, it requires a certain level of mental acumen in addition to physical stamina. Far from “group think,” soccer requires each player to be able to adjust on the fly.
Secondly, even if that were the case, I’m still not sure what the problem is. I was always under the impression that the ability to band together in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenge was a very “American” trait. Teamwork is not one shade away from communism. Rather it is the proper outworking of the American Spirit.
It’s foreign. In fact, that’s the precise reason the Times is constantly hectoring Americans to love soccer.
Soccer was developed oversees, but the first US Men’s soccer team was assembled in 1885, and we made our first World Cup appearance in the very first World Cup in 1930. The NFL was founded in 1920 and the NBA in 1946, which means that the US Soccer team was already up and running 35 years prior to the founding of the NFL and 61 years prior to the NBA.
Coulter touts Baseball as an all-American pastime, which is a premise I can agree with. However, it’s helpful to remember that the “World” Series is slightly different than the World Cup in one significant regard: The World Cup isactually a world event. Baseball is great, don’t get me wrong, but doesn’t it seem slightly more American to be rooting for your entire nation rather than just your favorite city? Very literally, in the World Cup, it is us against the world. I don’t see how this sort of camaraderie and shared vision could possibly work against American unity.
Soccer is like the metric system, which liberals also adore because it’s European.
No. You do not have to know, like, or use the metric system in order to watch or play soccer. You do not have to drive on the left side of the road to get to matches, and you don’t have to eat fish and chips while you’re watching the game (although that does sound quite tasty).
*US Soccer is by definition American because it’s played by Americans. It is an American team, wearing American flags, representing, you guessed it, America.
If more “Americans” are watching soccer today, it’s only because of the demographic switch effected by Teddy Kennedy’s 1965 immigration law. I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer. One can only hope that, in addition to learning English, these new Americans will drop their soccer fetish with time.
This is not only Coulter’s conclusion, but it’s also the least accurate portion of her article. Ask my grandmother, she’ll tell you. You see, my grandmother is a member of DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution). This is an organization that you can only gain entry to provided you can prove family lineage tracing back to the American Revolution. So, at least on her side, my family has been in America for some time. Quite some time.
And yet, I wound up loving and playing soccer all the way through college. I found it to be a fantastically competitive and terribly rewarding game. I don’t know exactly how many “greats” have been stateside since the Revolution, but I can tell you at least one of my great-grandfathers was born here.
I don’t think the real problem is Americans liking soccer. It seems like the bigger issue is how Ms. Coulter seems to define “American.” I will not attempt to parse out exactly what her understanding is, but it seems safe to say that it lacks a great deal of robustness. Last time I checked, every American I know immigrated here at some point or another. Isn’t this part of what makes America so great?
Assuming that this unique part of American heritage is somehow contributing to moral decay, seems far less American, then finding new ways to win at new things. That sounds far more American to me.
I’m not saying you have to forsake all other athletic loyalties, but in this season, rooting for the United States is the most American thing you can do.
I believe that we will win.
 Note, Coulter makes a number of comments about gender that seem to merit an entirely separate and full response. Needless to say, her comments in that regard also leave the reader wanting.