I can’t get into the World Cup. Yeah, go ahead and hate me. Call me anti-American, call me a communist, a contrarian, whatever you want. I don’t even care anymore.
Listen, it’s not that I’m not patriotic. I love shouting “USA!” “USA!” at the top of my lungs like a drunken lax bro, with Old Glory draped around my shoulders and a stars-and-stripes bandanna on my head.
I love doing the “I believe that we will win!” chant, in any situation, at any time, and I will watch any sporting event involving the U.S. because I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free and all that.
But I can’t get into the World Cup for a far more fundamental reason:
I think soccer is stupid.
Now, I understand that it’s the world’s most popular sport, that people from Lichtenstein to Latin America treat it like a religion. I respect their viewpoints as much as I respect people who root for the Miami Dolphins, though I may disagree with their life choices.
But to me, soccer is a sad, frustrating game. It’s a struggle that has no real reward–like midget wrestling or watching the Mets.
A smart dude once said, “Soccer is like a war where two countries are fighting each other, yet neither of them has enough ammunition to actually do any damage.” I think that’s the perfect description for it.
Soccer is like a presidential debate, if the candidates couldn’t use vowels. Or a rap battle, if you couldn’t use “Yo Momma” jokes.
Sometimes, you just want to run out on the field, pick up the ball and chuck it into the net. But you can’t.
And do you know why you can’t? The number 1 reason why soccer is stupid:
You can’t use your hands.
There’s something wrong with a sport that doesn’t allow its participants to utilize the two greatest tools that God gave to man. Think about it. Your hands are a huge part of your athleticism–they allow you to grip, catch, throw, shoot–your impact on every other sport in the world depends on your hands. And in soccer, they just throw that out the window.
Look–that’s fine–maybe a sport like that should exist–but don’t tell me a game that values the head as an athletic appendage more so than the hands deserves to be hailed on the same ground as football, basketball, baseball and hockey.
The lack of hand usage leads to all kinds of undesirable nonsense.
You want to tell me that Luis Suarez would have bitten that Italian dude like an angry Rottweiler if he wasn’t so accustomed to not using his hands? In basketball, that guy would’ve gotten punched. And everyone would have been mildly outraged. But it wouldn’t have caused Bob Ley to act like Bill O’Reilly on live television.
In soccer, the best players in the world sometimes miss the net by 12 feet. 12 FEET. That’d be like LeBron James chucking the ball over the top of the backboard. And do you know why this occurs? It’s because kicking is an inexact science. Your foot is like a foreign object. You don’t know exactly where the ball is going to go when you kick it–you just follow through and hope for the best.
Nah, give me a sport that allows you to use the things that separate us from the animals.
Reason No. 2 why soccer is stupid:
They don’t stop the freaking clock.
Seriously, how hard is it to have a guy sitting in a chair on the sidelines, flipping the timer up and down when the ball goes out of bounds? In what world does it make more sense to have the refs just estimate how much time has gone by, and then just add it to the end of the half?
They’re like parents who came to pick up their kids at a sleepover: “Yeah, five more minutes, what the hell!”
The fact that the sport operates this way is just asinine to me. It’s like basketball back in the 1800’s, when they didn’t think to cut a hole in the bottom of the peach basket. They just had guys standing on ladders on each side, throwing the ball back out when it went in.
Just pay somebody $5 to sit there and hit the timer when play stops or someone acts like they just got shot after being tripped up.
Which brings us to reason No. 3:
This is the most un-American part of soccer, GNKDLASM’FSMK’ F,MFNKL;ASND M.A,WEF . Sorry. I just flopped onto my keyboard.
In American sports, we fight and scratch and claw for every inch we get. We don’t cut corners, we don’t look for bailouts from the refs, and we don’t complain and make excuses. Flopping is like cheating on your taxes–it’s just wrong, and you don’t do it.
In soccer though, flopping is an art form. It’s so ingrained in their heads that they actually do it mid-air, sans collision, like some kind of stunt body double in a Bruce Willis movie.
This needs to be fixed.
Reason No. 4:
The lack of scoring.
This is the big one. Who wants to spend 2 hours watching a sporting event, when the only meaningful thing that happens occurs once or twice a game?
Can you imagine re-watching a soccer game on ESPN Classic? “Ohhh—I remember that kick! That was awesome! No one scores for another 45 minutes, but dude–the way that guy kicked the ball 17 feet past the net—he almost had that one!”
A soccer goal is such a rare occurrence that announcers feel the need to do this.
I mean, are you kidding me? Is he just trying to fill time until the next one is scored?
If it were up to me, I’d shrink the field, take some players off, and make it a little bit easier for these guys to put the freaking thing in the net.
A lack of scoring also minimizes the impact that the game’s great players can have–in basketball, you get to watch LeBron James or Kevin Durant impact the game on every possession. You know going in that you’re going to see the ball in their hands, and they’re going to make plays for their teams. In soccer, the great players have to navigate 12 other guys on a giant field–and most of the time, they don’t even get a shot off.
At least in hockey, there are constant scoring chances–constant shots on goal. In soccer, you almost have a heart attack every time someone actually has a modicum of a chance of scoring.
Reason No. 5:
The “No Substitutions” Rule.
They’re running around like Kenyans at the Boston Marathon out there, and you’re telling me we can’t sub anybody in and out? Why??
The lack of subs just makes for even more desperate and frustrating moments, like when a coach makes the decision to take somebody out because they cramped up like LeBron, and then the entire nation criticizes them because they wimped out.
What is the upside here?
It makes no sense to me.
Reason No. 6:
The Penalty Kicks.
I get it—the sport is so fantastic that we’ve played for 120 minutes and we aren’t sure anyone is ever going to score again–so, we need to find some way to end this game before everyone on the field passes out and the fans go rogue and overtake the stadium.
So, let’s take some penalty kicks!
Man, what an atrocious idea.
It’s like deciding the NBA Finals with a free throw shooting contest, or ending an extra inning game in the World Series with a home run derby. It’s like a Mario Party mini-game.
If your sport is so fundamentally flawed that you need to do this just to finally end the game, I’m sorry….something’s wrong.
Reason No. 7:
The World Cup’s Knockout Stage.
Given soccer’s lack of scoring, and its flawed way of breaking ties, I don’t think a world tournament should ever be decided in one-and-done situation. Brazil advanced past Chile in the Round of 16 because–and this is the only reason–its goalie just happened to “guess” which way Chile’s kicker was going to kick the ball more often than Chile’s goalie did.
Soccer is like baseball–it’s about the body of work. You find out which teams are the best over a long period of time. No one play should ever decide a soccer team’s fate, just like no one pitch should ever decide a baseball team’s. There aren’t enough scoring plays to make up for bad calls from referees–or dumb decisions that eventuate in a goal.
So no more single elimination.
In fact, here’s how I would set up the World Cup:
1. Stick with 32 teams, but change it so that only one team advances from each Group stage.
2. The remaining 8 teams are placed into two more groups of 4, and one team advances again in each.
3. Those two teams meet in a best-of-three series for the title. If there’s a tie, it becomes a best of two. If they split the next two games, they play again. If it comes down to a final game, they play overtime UNTIL SOMEONE FREAKING WINS. No penalty kicks, no goalies guessing which way to dive, no Mario Party mini-games deciding world championships.
So there you have it. That’s why I don’t like soccer, and that’s what I’d do to fix it. Feel free to holler at me in the comments section below.
Oh, and GO USA!