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The (American) Sports Writer War on Football in America

blanco becks The (American) Sports Writer War on Football in America

Authors Note:

Thanks for all the feedback. The conservative thing was based more on observing FOX News which immigrant baits and talks about soccer in very negative terms and my own interaction with conservatives, many of whom I work with and have had as clients about the hostility to Football (soccer) because it is a foreign sport and tends to be supported by immigrants more than the native American population. FOX News has twice this week gone out of their way to immigrant bait and fear monger by linking the US World Cup bid in 2018/22 to an invitation for terrorists to hit our shores because the implication is that football fans are foreign terrorists.

This all having been said many a liberal like Keith Olbermann who misrepresents facts all the time including many of the things he has said about George Bush (who unlike most liberal I don’t think was a terrible president. Reagan- now that’s a different story, he was the worst president of my lifetime) is as guilty of football hating than anyone.In fact some of the worst hatred of football comes from the elites in the Northeast: but that is nothing new: while I consider myself a liberal I want nothing to do with the New England/New York elites who live in their own cocoon about all things American.

The real problem is sports writers and sports editors regardless of their persuasion. Some of the above comments about the psychology of sports writers are dead on. For the most part they weren’t the best students in journalism school and are some of the least intellectually curious people around.

Football (Soccer) is foreign to them and they have a vested interest in protecting American sport. Most of them have not traveled abroad and if they have they have done their best to avoid exposure to football. (For example if you travel to London but do not visit the rest of England it is easy to avoid football. The same for Paris. If you travel to Newcastle you will be indoctrinated in the religion of the Toon, but how many American sportswriters vacation in Newcastle?)

The bottom line is this: sports writers and the sports media have done a lot of damage to the promotion of the sport in the United States. But barring a financial collapse of epic proportions that lead to a re-tribilization of the world, football is only going to get bigger and bigger in the US. The reality of the situation is the elites from the Northeast have done to the game what they have done to America: force their moral values down the throats of Americans: they talk about Lincoln as the Greatest President although for many he was the only American terrorist president. (Southernes exemplify the American ethos more than most from the Noertheast) They look down upon the south and west and also on football. Thus this piece has been revised to just focus on the sports writers and not the conservative who I realize love America and just simply exploit immigration and other fears for political purposes but are not trying to destory the game.

Beginning with the late Dick Young of the New York Post, sportswriters in the US, mostly conservative in their world view (even many of those liberal in their politics like Keith Olbermann, are notable football haters) have tried to take the course of least resistance with regards to covering sports: that means covering American sports whose leagues have no meaningful foreign competition and not developing an interest or passion for anything not distinctly American. When a political writer for the left leaning New Republic Franklin Foer wrote an insightful book entitled “How Soccer Explains the World,” ESPN’s Sal Palantonio had to respond by writing a book titled “How Football explains America.”

The hostility to David Beckham and Cuauhtemoc Blanco when they signed in MLS was shown by local sports writers in both the LA and Chicago markets. In both markets local writers trashed the newcomers as unwelcome foreigners looking to destroy the American sporting culture. Additionally editors of major daily papers often times kill any football related story even about local teams because it is deemed less than newsworthy. Again the standard for makes a paper is subjective and determined by those who either dislike football or simply are to ignorant to understand it.

Many sportswriters in the US are not only lacking intellectual curiosity about the outside world, but like their conservative brethren they will promote international events only when the United States is winning. Case in point: does anyone outside the US, or the handful of totalitarian regimes that exploit athletes for political purposes really believe the Olympics are a bigger sporting event than the FIFA World Cup? Are the Olympics  a bigger event than the regional Euro finals, or Copa America? Are they even bigger internationally than the UEFA Champions League finals.

Why is it that Olympic Football doesn’t get the attention in the United States that Olympic Swimming or Olympic Track and Field does? Is it because those sports are more popular than football in the states, given that almost 12 million people in the US watched the most recent US National Team World Cup qualifier, while the aforementioned sports never get that sort of viewership outside the Olympics? Clearly that is not the case. It is simple:  American success determines media coverage and the “worldwide importance” of an event.

Those Americans fortunate enough to travel throughout much of the world as I have been know that Football is the world sport, and nothing else comes close. I have been fortunate to be in India during two recent Super Bowls, neither of which were on television locally. Yet the nation on Super Bowl weekend features Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, SPL, Erevidese and Serie A on mainstream cable/satellite channels. College Basketball is also shown frequently in India, while (American) College Football is not.

In Europe, the Super Bowl is mostly an event which draws simple curiosity. The attempts of the National (American) Football League to empire build have fallen flat on their faces. NFL Europe has gone out of business, and the only contribution the NFL game at Wembley in 2007 made to the English sporting landscape was to destroy the football pitch in a way which benefited Croatia in the critical Euro qualifier three weeks later against England.

But that peculiar institution known as American sports is changing. Like Slavery, another peculiar institution which died in the United States long after it was banned in Europe and European colonies abroad, the changing sports landscape has come to America. But Americans tend to be conservative, slow and in many cases ignorant of the rest of the world. Much of this ignorance is created by a xenophobic media fearful of change, and in many cases too lazy to try and understand the rest of the world.

America is not only slow and conservative, but to a certain extent isolated by the vast seas and a language which is not spoken as a native tongue south of the United States in the Western Hemisphere. As the United States becomes less isolated and more Latinized, Football will continue to grow into a mainstream sport at home. The TV viewership for internationals already rivals Baseball and Basketball, and only lags far behind (American) Football and NASCAR, a sport which has wisely become more international in its outlook. In time, conservative critics will either fade away or be blown over by football in America: it’s only a matter of when.

This entry was posted in American Soccer, Leagues: Major League Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

61 Responses to The (American) Sports Writer War on Football in America

  1. J. says:

    Man, what a crap article that reeks of the ramblings of a pseudo intellectual. I’m an MLS and American Soccer fan, but this is just embarrassing.

    I thought I’d give your site a try when I came across on my google news searches, but I’ll ignore it from now on.

  2. J.V.R. says:

    A great piece to say the least.

    The conservative thing while fairly obvious maybe stretched a little in this piece, but I’d like to focus on the sports writers arguments.

    I 100% agree that the typical american sports writer blabber mouth in intellectually incurious. In fact a lot of them cover sports because they are ex-jocks are simply not intellectual enough to cover real news. Many of them resort to conjecture and loud shouting/rambling when covering sports. Most of them know nothing of the outside world and don’t care to learn. The fact is also with a few exceptions, sports writers write on a much lower level than their colleagues at the newspapers.

    Sportswriters who grew up with Baseball, Hockey, Football etc.. disdain Soccer. They are threatened by it. The fact that many ex-jocks played in exclusively American sports furthers the besieged nature of these writers who fear soccer and its latin/italian/spanish fans will run roughshot over traditional “american” sports.

    I agree with the violence thing about football also. Basketball also happens to be a very minority oriented sport even in the coaching ranks and that is part of the reason it is not as popular in rural america or conservative small town america except in the states you mention in your article.

  3. Michael says:

    The odds of World Football becoming the national pastime in the US are about as likely as officially adopting the metric system; the controversy is not quite mainstream yet (a tough hurdle to pass). Many advertisters hate this sport as there are no commercial breaks except for at halftime. Also, what would be a good new name for the current (American) Football? Kickball? Tackleball? It would take a social movement like the 1960s for such a scenerio to happen. Americans love scoring and are FAST-paced, and having an average of only three goals per game really fails to satisfy most american tastes; World Football is very “dry” on stats as well; all you have are goals, assists, shots on goal, goalie save pct., yellow/red cards, team fouls, corner kicks, free kicks, and that’s about it.

  4. Preach it brother Kartik. The bourgoise capitalist xenophobes who control the means of media production in the United States and narrow-minded philistines.

  5. Drew says:

    “The American Conservatives Hate Football” is a horribly thought out idea, and the worst blanket statement ever. I know plenty of conservatives that love to play and watch the sport. I’m sure after my conservative friends read this article, they would love the chance to get you on the field and meg you so bad that you would not want to play the sport anymore. They love the game and love to play it. The mere fact that you would suggest that they hate football is a thoughtless and ignorant thing to say, and shows that you lack the same intellect as the american football coaches you refer to in the article. I’m just glad your media influence is minimal, because I think this article is a disgrace.

  6. Andrew says:

    One problem with your hypothesis: neither game is solely American.

    Basketball was invented by a Canadian.

    And American Football is probably more Canadian than Basketball. American Football entered the US after Montreal’s McGill University challenged Harvard University to a game, in 1874. Canadians had established clubs since 1868 (some accounts have it at 1861) and a league established by 1882. The American teams don’t really get established until 1892 with a league not established in until 1920.

  7. Urban Meyer says:

    So what your saying is football is not an intellectual sport even though NFL coaches can work up to 80-90 hours a week because they’re studying game film coming up with a game plan?

    I see

    Well if you’ll excuse me I’m off to watch FOX news before I go to Church and then go patrol the border and recite the pledge of allegiance

  8. Chris says:

    I only got about half way through your article because it was boring me to tears. I do, however, have to take exception to your assertion that American football is a “mindnumbingly simple sport”. You obviously don’t understand the game to any great degree. American football is extremely complex both strategically and tactically. Offensive and defensive phillosophies, strategies, formations, motion, blocking schemes, take lifetimes to understand. Soccer, hockey, basketball and baseball are all relatively simple by comparison. I would have much preferred to read an article on which colleges the top high school prospects are considering, on the upside though I preferred reading half of your article to watching a soccer game.

  9. NJ says:

    The blanket statement Conservatives hate Soccer is way off base. I don’t think your political affiliation has anything to do with what sports you enjoy or watch. For some reason everyone has to attempt to tie every interest to politics and I find it rather annoying. I like to enjoy my sports as an escape from the politics in everyday life, so lets not attempt to draw lines there.

    I agree Soccer/Football (does it really matter what we call it, its about the game not the name) is undercovered in the mainstream media. However, what would you expect. ESPN carries little content that is soccer related, while they do have a lot of Basketball/American Football. In that respect they are going to talk about what has drawn the consumer to their network in the first place. Do I wish they showed more soccer highlights, yes, but I can’t fault them for not doing so.

    In the newspaper world the majority of them are failing, and in dire need of readers. So in that quest they attempt to write about what they feel the consumer wants, or what will sell more papers. Given MLS attendance in most markets, it leads to less coverage. However, there are good writers in a number of big markets including Chicago, that attempt to cover soccer and in some cases are getting more space then ever during the MLS season.

    This is a golden opportunity for soccer, to gain viewers. A large number of baseball fans are disenfranchised with the sport and the constant steroid use/cheating that occurs. MLS should run with that opportunity and show people there is another alternative during the summer to baseball. I also believe, as foolish as it is, that if you get people in seats at the games, you can hook them with the sport. There is nothing like being at a live game with the energy and emotion of the crowd, which overcomes the need of the constant scoring (which by the way Hockey is not the highest scoring game, though a bit more violent).

    By the way “How Soccer Explains the World” is a good book. So is the Gianlucca Vialli/Gab Marcotti “Italian Job”

  10. C Dykstra says:

    Stereotyping is fun …

    Wait, no it isn’t.

  11. Miami Fan says:

    I’m a conservative who loves futbol and thinks the first half of your piece is total garbage. FOX News tries to rile up conservatives more than speaking for them. As someone who is involved with politics you should know that.

    But the second part of the article is very strong intellectually and accurate. NFL and College Football is popular because of the violence- i’ve always bought that and the fact is that it is simply comfortable for the mostly anglo sports writers who grew up with the game to cover. They have an overwhelming bias against futbol and it can even be interpreted as hatred.

    Your point against the Olympics is very well taken. Less people care about the Olympics in the rest of the world than do in America. It’s a corporate advertising driven sporting event that only rivals the World Cup in the American mind.

    Baseball is also part of the problem. It’s a dying sport but so many of the sports writers grew up with or played the game they try and prop it up and to them futbol with its latino base of support like myself is a huge threat to the long term survival of MLB.

    You’d be better served to delete the first part of this article with your obvious political and ideological bias and focus on the sports writers and ESPN. You are dead on there and would have more credibility if you got rid of the political junk.

  12. Mike G. says:

    Wow . . . I liked your Beckham article earlier, but this? This is a turd burrito wrapped in wet toilet paper.

    As a life long conservative, member of the GOP and Texan who played “American” football for my schools for 7 years . . . . I absolutely love soccer. I love football too, but it is possible to enjoy both, to love both, to follow both passionately. Further, there are more conservatives, libertarians and GOPers who love the game than you think.

    One of the best experiences I’ve had as a MLS season ticket holder over the past 8 years is tailgating with my friends, and making new friends at every tailgate. And you know what’s cool about it, we’re a good mix of conservatives and liberals, but we don’t dwell on our political ideologies. We don’t just look at the world through the politically out of focus lens you obviously do. It’s about the team and a common bond we share and support with our hard earned dollars.

    I learned a long time ago Kartik that if all you know about a person is his/her political slant, well then you don’t really know that much about them at all. Such is the case with your blog today.

    Mike G.
    Illinois

  13. Jezza says:

    Kartik – for once I agree with your artice. The American people are so ignorant to what goes on around them, not just in sporting terms but generally with world issues. Before you pin me down as a “Eurosnob” who knows nothing about the US and is sitting comfortbaly from my sofa in London, I live in Chicago surrounded by hopeful cubs & bears fans at work.

    During my first years in the US many moons ago, I was shocked as to how enclosed the American people’s mentality was about their country and sporting life outside their own waters. Bringing new talk of “Soccer” into the working environment was almost off limits as the usual sporting banter about the cubs never winning the world series again, banded around the office frequently. But this mentality went far further than sports… trying to start converstaions with people and brake down barriers was hard. Noone was interested in world issues, noone knew about any political problems other than their own president, no one knew when the next world cup was, some didnt even know wether England had a King or Queen (serioulsy). The most unbelievabe thing to me was half the people in the office didnt even have a passport!! …..”We only vacation within the US”

    Come on… you need to get out there more!!

    Before coming to the US, I never realised how much these people live in their own bubble, with no interest or enthusiasm to entertain what is occuring out side of the shores of their own country. I thought maybe I had been drafted into the worst office building in the world but later found it was the mindset of most people I spoke to.

    Bottom line is MLS wont take off in the media for the exact reasons you speak off Artik, because unfortunately they too have the same small minded views that nothing new can influence US sports and anything outside of America is meaningles. Before the American people label Brits “Eurosnobs”, they should perhaps look closer in-house at their own ignorance.

    ** Note – If you have the urge to write “Go back to your own country” bla blah blah – Ive heard it all before.

  14. Jack says:

    American Football is the most popular game in the US because of gambling. Look at the how much time is dedicated to predicting point spreads and all of the variables. Also to simplify your argument that it is a conservative and liberal reason why soccer will be popular in America is bogus. If soccer had as much scoring and the underdogs could win or even blow out their opponent then it would have a chance because more people would bet on it.

  15. Max says:

    After a series of idiotic articles on eurosnobs and Beckham you’ve redeemed yourself BIG TIME with this one.

    Honestly, while some conservatives may like soccer, most say its a game for foreigners and mock those of us who watch the game as wanna be brits or french.

    I hear insults like, “our football is played by real men,” and “we can bomb the countries who beat us in soccer into submission.”

    It’s become part of the conservative doctrine in this country to oppose immigration and anything that appears “foreign.” America despite the internet and globalization is more backward looking than ever outside the big cites. And you are right- Basketball though American struggles in some of these same areas. It’s not ridiculed as foreign but is seen as a inner city aka black sport in some quarters of conservative america.

  16. Chris says:

    Talk about stereotyping! Jezza I am an American who has been to over a dozen foreign countries and knows quite a bit about many foreign cultures and world history. So please come off your high horse for a moment, and please don’t get confused. Many Americans understand soccer but just don’t like it.

    Lets face it, how can you enjoy a sport in which the most exiting part is the shoot-out at the end, if one actually takes place! I could say the same thing about baseball, I would rather watch paint dry.

    You and the author of this article are like the art critic who says people don’t like bad “art” because they don’t understand it. If you like it great, but if I don’t like it, it is not necessarily because I am ignorant. So if you want to talk about other cultures, world affairs, or your queen, great, but don’t expect every one of your coworkers to love soccer.

    By the way I understand that in some parts of the world they really enjoy curling….I would tell you more about it, but you probably wouldn’t be able to appreciate how enthralling it is, due to your closed minded ingnorance of such beauty.

  17. Jezza says:

    Oh yes…the “real men” quote…I always refer them to watch a good ol’ game of Rugby, then enjoy the look on their faces as they ask…. “what…no pads!!…those guys are crazy…”.

  18. Eddie says:

    This article is complete garbage. Really just a ramble from start to finish with no meat in between the stale bread

  19. Chris says:

    The wearing of pads and helmets in American football does not decrease the force with which the athletes hit each other. On the contrary, the wearing of protective gear allows them to hit with much more velocity and power than is possible in rugby. Not to mention the size, speed and strength of American football players far exceeds that of rugby players. I would imagine that there are very few, if any rugby players with the physical talent or ware-with-all to play American football at the professional level.

    Don’t think so? Imagine for a moment what would happen to a player without gear in an American football game…he wouldn’t last 5 minutes. On the other hand rugby players last the whole game without protective gear so clearly the impacts are much less violent.

    Saying that wearing protective gear means Amercian football players are not playing a rough sport is like saying if motorcyle racers were real men, they would do it without any protective equipment.

  20. Jezza says:

    Chris – serioulsy?……Rugby players dont have the physical attributes to play in the NFL…

    What a joke.

    Rugby players, play two 40 minute halves, with no breaks for a sip of gatordae, meaning they are engaged in extreme physical activity where they are completely reliant on their speed, size and strength at all time. Yes the NFL probably does have have some bigger guys, purely becasue they are not asked to run anywhere, but merely be used as a brick wall at 15 second intervals.

    So why do rugby players last the whole game? Because they are at the peak of their physical condition, compared to some fat guy who happens to be useful because he weighs 300lbs. If you ever watched Rubgy you’ll see in every game, gauged eyes, ripped ears, dislocated shoulders etc, thats not see as violent?.

    In fact it would be an interesting experiment to mix the two games together, and ill think you’ll find it would be quite the opposite, with most NFL players gasping for air after being asked to run for more than 1 minute at a time without Bud Lite cutting in to give them a chance to recuperate.

  21. Joey Clams says:

    That is, perhaps, the most embarrassing attempt at analysis I have ever read.

    My lesbian Democrat sister and her Jewish Democrat partner absolutely despise soccer. My Irish-Lapsed Catholic / Unitarian Democrat best friend hates soccer. One of our best friends, an Obama supporter and a pacifist teacher at a Quaker prep school, hates soccer.

    My next door neighbor, a liberal Irish-Catholic who despises all things Republican, disparages soccer whenever he sees me.

    My closest soccer-fan friend is an investor in Nascar and a Libertarian who did not vote for Obama. He has attended matches in Saprissa and Alejuela and is currently hanging out in Colombia.

    The biggest Grateful Dead fan that I know, is a poetry-citing Republican who also happens to be the president of an investment firm.

    I don’t mind generalizations as long as they are used responsibly. You, sir, are clueless. Stick to reporting on Canadian expanison, transfer rumors and sponsorship deals and leave the sociology to those who know what they’re doing.

  22. Jack says:

    Here are some reasons why soccer is not making it in America right now
    - TV wants to have breaks so they can make money from ad revenue. Look at how many many TV timeouts football and basketball make soccer does not have built in time outs
    - Not enough people bet on the sport (There are thousands of internet sites, over 50 tv shows, and almost every sports talk radio show talks about football and the spread. Until gambling picks up on soccer it remain less popular.”
    - Not enough scoring- example the homerun chase for baseball brought back interested even though it was fueled by steroids. You make the argument about skills but look where that got the WNBA (There are many great athletes in the sport of soccer, but offense brings in more attention than defensive battles. Look at the 1996 playoffs in basketball between the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks, very low rated playoff series.)
    - compelling figures have not been properly introduced or created- look what Michael Jordan did for the NBA and Joe Montana in the NFL, Joe Namath
    - The favorites win a majority of the time in soccer- people want to see an underdog come out of no where and that is hard in soccer

    PS – America this so called backwards country elected someone other than a white person to be president something no European Country has done.
    Also to compare us to these so called great Europeans who robbed Africa, Southeast Asia, and India of natural resources to make the mother country richer. Europeans were way ahead of the curve when changing slavery to colonization and just kill whoever challenges their authority. Look at Africa now to see the mess the Europeans made over there.

  23. Belgian Beer says:

    I just bought one of these cool “Soccer Terrorist” t-shirts:

    Soccer Terrorist Value T-shirt

  24. eplnfl says:

    Kartik:

    I never pass up a chance to slam the right so any thing that can be pinned on them, if an economic disaster and endless wars are not enough, is ok by me.

    I must disagree with the Chicago press treatment of Blanco. He was hailed from day one here as the Mexican Soccer Michael Jordan. It doesn’t get any better then that here in the Windy City.

  25. John says:

    The most obvious thing is that murdoch is the new colonial master. Not the US not the UK. He exploits colored people to make money in the premier league and in india, hong kong, singapore and china while his newspaper runs an editorial mocking obama as a monkey.

    did anyone actually watch the clip kartik is referring to? he didn’t do a good job of directing people to the link but basically a bunch of right wing blowhards on FOX said that they wanted to make sure the US DIDN’T GET THE WORLD CUP BECAUSE THE OTHER COUNTRIES WOULD BRING TERRORISTS TO THE COUNTRY.

    Look I go to a lot of soccer matches in the US and on the political spectrum I’d say a minimum of 85% of the fans areliberals. A lot o liberals hate soccer too- the author mentions keith olbermann as a soccer hater. Honestly i did not know that but he’s clearly making a point that conservatives are insular thinking and not worldly but that the hatred is not limited to them but also to sports writers who happen to be liberal also.

    I personally think this is the best piece I have seen on this site since I started coming.

    And, BTW Rugby is a much tougher guy sport than American Football. Heck American football players run one fly pattern and then take 3 plays off. They are hardly athletes by the Soccer/Basketball/Hockey/Rugby standard. They are closer to Baseball or Cricket players.

  26. John says:

    on the basketball versus football point:

    Duke…………basketball school
    Georgetown………….basketball school
    UNC……………….basketball school
    Oklahoma…………football school
    Alabama…………..football school
    Texas A&M…………football school………….a school which offers a scholly from the KKK

    your point is VERY well taken. Maybe you were discussing NBA vs NFL but on the college level the pattern is clear.

  27. Pep says:

    As guest to your great country i have always been put off by the connotation that soccer is effiminate at best and a communist sport at worst.I have hear Roger Hedgcock and Rush Limbaugh wax violently about their hatred of the beautiful game.So it did frustrate me that soccer was seen as Un American.

    At the same time the Fox soccer channel is my fav and its a Rupert Murdoch property.So its too easy broadly paint the right wing spectrum as soccer hating.Despite some of the most angry vitriol seems to come from the right.

    America is great country that is so varied and textualised its impossible to categorize it as a soccer hating nation.You guys are catching up fast.And the next generation of reporters and writers will only know that and not what soccer used to be percieved as.

    Good work,nice site

  28. Jack says:

    Duke and Georgetown are private schools and it is much cheaper to have a good basketball program than a football program.

  29. Jack says:

    Gambling is the biggest factor in a sports popularity. Look at Europe and the U.S. Soccer is the most wagered on sport in Europe and Football is the most wagered on sport in the U.S. Too become more popular soccer needs to become more wager friendly.

  30. Joey Clams says:

    Soccer haters are not necessarily xenophobes but put-off by high-minded attempts to shame them into embracing the game. The game itself, as much as I love, DOES invite parody and derision. Or is soccer so sacred that one cannot even satirize it? I just don’t appreciate satire that is ill-informed or unoriginal.

    The possibility exists, also, that a lot of people here just don’t like the sport.

    Only here, by the way, is soccer enthusiasm promoted as an expression of enlightenment. Elsewhere it’s just a sport. Anyway, when you weigh a sport down with cultural and political expectations, you render it toxic. American sports fans enjoy the outlet and entertainment of sports. They serve, ideally, as a break, a refuge. When following a sport becomes tantamount to a political act, well, it loses its appeal.

    Did you ever think of that? Probably not, because you were too busy demonizing.

  31. Joey Clams says:

    I’ll also say this:

    Americans are suspicious of excessive demonstrations of passion. That suspicion is healthy.

    And if you give me a choice between apathy or obsession, I’ll take apathy every day of the week. Nothing out there can presume to monopolize my attention and emotions.

  32. Chris says:

    Jezza,

    Sprinters can’t run a marathon because that is not what they train for. American football players do not run all game, but in 4-6 second sprints because that is the nature of the game.

    When I say rugby players can not play American football at the professional level, it is not because they don’t have endurance, or athletic ability. It is because they do not have the size, strength and speed or athletic ability to compete at that level. I am sure some of them could probably play at the college level.

    Don’t agree? Well then answer me this, if they were so capable of playing at the NFL level or any other mainstream professional sport at an elite level, why then wouldn’t they do so and make all the millions that come with it? Love of the game? Pa leese!

    As far as rugby players getting injured, I see lots of soccer players flopping all over the field all the time. Once the penalty is called the pop right back up and get back into the game. Baseball players and basketball players suffer eye injuries, dislocations from time to time as well.

    You really are a homer….next you are going to tell me that if they really wanted to, cricket players could play professional baseball. Wait.. can I take that back, I really don’t want to start a discussion about what a great sport cricket is…..

  33. iyutepo says:

    You call that logic? What are you, 17 years old?

    Why don’t you just say that you hate conservatives, and just leave soccer out of it?

  34. Simon B says:

    It’s unfortunate that an article written about the ignorance of American sports fans was written with so much ignorance itself.

    I’m a big soccer fan, but articles like this just gives people who don’t like the sport more fuel for the fire.

    To call football a simple game. Wow. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    two wrongs do not make a right.

  35. Curtis Spiteri says:

    Fox hates soccer! ESPN hates soccer! American hates soccer!

    Oh no, what will we do?

    Nothing, because Fox doesn’t hate the game, ESPN doesn’t hate the game and this is another example of bad interweb pseudo-journalism trying to make a political statement.

    Stupid. Next!

  36. Travis says:

    I had been told Kartik Krishnaiyer was a good writer and solid analytical thinker. Prior to this article I thought his reputation as repeated to me was overblown and that he was a typical Yank trying to force MLS and Americanize the game.

    This is the best piece I’ve seen on an American based footy site in a long time. You should stick to this sort of writing and not the sloppy reporting and eurobashing you’ve done lately. This is a great blog piece and why sites like this exist. Let’s see more of this type of writing and less of the “Europeans hate America, and Beckham is wanker” stuff.

  37. tony says:

    people it is o.k to call it SOCCER instead of football what the hell difrence does it make, the w.c cup champs italy also have there own word for soccer it is calcio

  38. Chris B says:

    Yes, it was a broad brush and that was the problem.

    Olbermann is a Baseball historian, and it seems to me that Baseball writers are some of the worst critics of soccer. I love Baseball and I do not know if they are the most fearful of Soccer beating them out? So Liberal/conservative does not play a part in it. In fact I saw Olbermann use a 10year + plus clip to put down soccer and never mentioned it was an old clip.

    Just Saying,
    I did a thesis on WC’94 and in terms of press and writers the vast majority of pro soccer articles were written by the big international looking papers, such as the NYT,Boston Globe, LA Times and as well the vast majority of anti, were the local tabloids who tend to be more conservative. I believe that most of the haters are Xenophobic and are truly ignorant of the aspects of the game.
    Before you yell, I agree that American footbal is not simple, infact it is complicated but, so is our football. That is what the hating sportswriters do not understand. They can talk all day about the ups and downs of a 4-3 defence versus a 3-4 defence but they can not talk about a 3-5-2 versus a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2 and why each set up is better for the players we have.

    It is their lack of knowledge of the game and their fear of the enorminity (sp) of the game that makes them so fearful.

  39. jose says:

    Interesting subject. I think the problem you’re running into with this article is equating xenophobia with conservativism. Those two things are not synonymous. Frank Foer, who you mentioned, makes the case that there is an undeniable connection between anti-soccer attitudes and anti-globalization attitudes. Granted there exists a subset of worldly educated people who are aware of soccer and don’t care for it, but there is an even larger subset of people who think it to be a threat to their core values. But I wouldn’t put that group of people into an ideological box. I’ve read many a column by a left leaning sports journalist waxing poetic about the crack of a bat or the smell of freshly cut grass. To them, the “threat:” is the diminishing of the importance of their beloved sport or their job status.

  40. eplnfl says:

    Hats off to you again Kartik for being thought provoking. As were on the same side politically I would like to find myself in agreement with this article, but as stated above in my earlier post there are some conclusions that I can not support.

    Four of the most conservative states in the Union are huge homes to NCAA basketball, Indiana, Kentucky,North Carolina, and Kansas. They most liberal state in the Union California, is a football state. My own home town and the home town of President Obama is much more of a football town, at all levels, high school, college (ND is big I regret to say here) and pro then a basketball town even after Michael Jordan. Chris B correctly points out that the most prominent progressive media star in the US is 100% into baseball and seems to ignore soccer except to poke fun at it when possible. It is a well made point that the baseball media whatever their political leanings does not care for soccer and for the most part never will. The one time all powerful baseball media has lost out to the NFL writers and do not want to see soccer take ink away from their stories.

    For the most part the American sports media reflects the political make-up of the country as a whole. The sports media establishment is anti-soccer less for political purposes then institutional. Learning to write about soccer would require them to learn a whole new rule book and some foreign language lessons may also be in order and so they would have less time for the free food line at the ballparks. Human nature really in the end wins out.

  41. Brian Zygo says:

    Soccer is actually a pretty violent sport, in subtle ways.

  42. Nick Infante says:

    Kartik-

    I am emailing to request reprint permission on my College Athletics Clips website for your “The (American) Conservative/Sports Writer War on Football in America” commentary that ran on MLS Talk.com on 2-20-09.

    I would like to post your commentary in its entirety and with full attribution.

    Clips is a paid subscription website ($99/year) that provides executive summaries and commentaries of college athletics issues. Over 70% of our subscribers are D1 Athletic Directors, Presidents, Conference Commissioners and Senior Associate ADs. Clips subscribers also include Assoc/Asst ADs, Faculty Athletic Reps, professors, Sports Info Directors, coaches, sportswriters, vendors, NCAA folks, students, etc.

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  43. Thanks for all the feedback. The conservative thing was based more on observing FOX News which immigrant baits and talks about soccer in very negative terms and my own interaction with conservatives, many of whom I work with and have had as clients about the hostility to Football (soccer) because it is a foreign sport and tends to be supported by immigrants more than the native American population. FOX News has twice this week gone out of their way to immigrant bait and fear monger by linking the US World Cup bid in 2018/22 to an invitation for terrorists to hit our shores because the implication is that football fans are foreign terrorists.

    This all having been said many a liberal like Keith Olbermann who misrepresents facts all the time including many of the things he has said about George Bush (who unlike most liberal I don’t think was a terrible president. Reagan- now that’s a different story, he was the worst president of my lifetime) is as guilty.

    The real problem is sports writers and sports editors regardless of their persuasion. Some of the above comments about the psychology of sports writers are dead on. For the most part they weren’t the best students in journalism school and are some of the least intellectually curious people around.

    Football (Soccer) is foreign to them and they have a vested interest in protecting American sport. Most of them have not traveled abroad and if they have they have done their best to avoid exposure to football. (For example if you travel to London but do not visit the rest of England it is easy to avoid football. The same for Paris. If you travel to Newcastle you will be indoctrinated in the religion of the Toon, but how many American sportswriters vacation in Newcastle?)

    The bottom line is this: sports writers and the sports media have done a lot of damage to the promotion of the sport in the United States. But barring a financial collapse of epic proportions that lead to a re-tribilization of the world, football is only going to get bigger and bigger in the US

  44. Mario in SJ says:

    Mr Kartick, its clear that you are a committed Socialist but please don’t stereotype conservatives as soccer haters. If I’m not mistaken you are against stereotyping.

    One of the commentors above says that ’85% of soccer fans are liberal’. I think that statement may be more appropriate as ’85% are young’. Quite a distinction and the reason why I believe that soccer will be successful in time..

    I agree with your premise that sports writers are simply ignorant of soccer and thus have no choice but bash it. More to the point they were brought up on other sports and had ZERO exposure or knowledge of soccer for most of their lives. Of course this is steadily changing as younger reporters come on the scene and “football is only going to get bigger and bigger in the US”.

  45. Andrew says:

    A big reason Americans tend to dismiss soccer is because the sport is so often promoted by arrogant douchebags, like yourself. First of all, there is no conservative/liberal split amongst soccer haters/lovers (with a very small possible exception if you take into account the higher interest amongst latinos than other races). Also, I’d go further and proclaim that there is no conservative/liberal split amongst college football fans. Yeah, right, like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, USC, and Oregon fans don’t go crazy for football. Those places are plenty liberal enough for me.

    But the bigger reason people here laugh at soccer is that people like you REFUSE to call it soccer. This is America. We already have football. I don’t go to England and then get all whiny when they refer to the NFL as American football or Gridiron or Armored Wankball. That’s England. Let them call it what they want. Here, it’s soccer, just as it is in Japan, Korea, the rest of East and Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Fact: “the rest of the world” does NOT call it football…

    Does insisting on calling soccer by the wrong name make you a better fan? What are trying to gain? Why would any American listen to what you have to say when you’re not only trying to convince them to enjoy a sport they know little about (soccer), but are also attacking their already beloved sport (football) by implying it has an illegitimate name?

    I’m an MLS season ticket holder. I love soccer. I watch it virtually every day. But Americans aren’t going to love it if douches are going around feigning insult when somebody refers to it as Soccer. Furthermore, in America, it’s not a “pitch”. It’s not a “side”. It’s not a “kit”. It’s not a “match”. It’s a “field”, “team”, “uniform”, and “game”. MLS is American. We should be using our own language to describe it. Leave all that “I only call it football, so I’m smarter than you” talk for your Premiership discussions. By the way, the Houston Dynamo would be a mid-table team in the Premiership, because when you take away the “big 4″, the rest of the Premiership are shit.

  46. Ian says:

    This is an outstanding piece.

    You conservatives that are angry are missing the point. Very clearly the point is that conservative commentators that are constantly riling people up about immigration and the national identity. Anything foreign or that threatens our “americanism” it criticized.

    Most of you have missed entirely the clips on FOX which started this whole debate. It’s obvious the conservative commentators are relying on xenophobia, and a fear of even foreign tourists to discuss why they DON’T want the US to get the World Cup in 2018. I’ve seen so much soccer bashing among conservative pundits through the years it’s sick. Soccer is seen as a sign of globalization and the success of the game reinforces to alot of these commentators that we have too many latin immigrants in the country.

    I don’t know why you people don’t focus on the issues and take the hyperbole out of it.

  47. Jack says:

    Many of the people on Fox are commentators or bloggers on the internet, but they have a larger soap and get heard. They make money off stirring the pot and causing controversy. Would Americans watch these shows if there was no divisive discussion that angered or irked people? They are trying to capitalize on human emotions just like this blog has made soccer fans come to defend soccer and Americans come defend some of their beliefs. The most highly rated airings of these shows on Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, and Headline News are when big controversies come about and the commentators sit there and add fuel to the fire. Why do they attack soccer? Because they can reach a new demo like latinos or young people. I bet this article will add ratings to Fox News and Keith Olbermann because people want to see them in the act, so they can become really outraged. By writing this article you have helped them create higher ratings till they move on to another subject that create boost their ratings leading to more book deals and more ad revenue.

  48. Diego says:

    You should have a politi-football discussion with Steven Cohen of World Soccer Daily, a self-proclaimed left wing loony.

    I, of course, approve none of this as I am a proud member of the GOP but respect your opinion nonetheless.

    In my opinion, it isn’t just a conservative trait, rather than an American trait in general.

    Soccer is a passion of mine. However, I kind of like being among a few million who follows MLS because I am individualist (To counteract that point you make in your article). My friends are constantly getting on my case for always looking up MLS stuff on my laptop. I was known, on Superdraft day, as the only kid who even cared! Interestingly enough, it was the self proclaimed liberals in my class who are anti-MLS, although they, like me, ardently follow BPL, because THEY are anti-American.

    And don’t try to turn this into an immigration thing. I am very much anti illegal immigration, but I still love football. So do a lot of my GOP buddies who aren’t of Hispanic descent, unlike myself.

  49. Brian Zygo says:

    I got excited when I saw a listing for a show called Jim Rome is Burning . . . man was I mislead, it was just ESPN allowing him to spout more of his nonsense . . .

  50. eplnfl says:

    Kartik:

    On a political note, The Bush Administration makes the Nixon Administration look able and well intentioned. While I never voted for Reagan he was kind hearted, had capable people in government, although capable conservatives, and kept his religious beliefs to himself. A comparison of the 3 would make an interesting piece on a political blog.

  51. Enrique says:

    Regardless of political affiliations, there is a very clear hatred of soccer in this country that is allowed to be voiced through major networks in an insulting way to those of us who love the sport. The problem is not someone not liking the sport or voicing their opinion but the is the way they do it in that is harmful. An impressionable child who has not given soccer a chance already has made up his mind because of he sees on tv or what people around him/her say in a derogatory way; many times I found myself arguing against kids in my class or friends who had no basis for their arguments. Later on in life is very hard for a person to change their mind when something has been ingrained, like religious beliefs or racism for example.

    I think that people like myself that support MLS would like it to succeed in this country, the majority have a realistic view or close to it of what the state of soccer in America is in the landscape of sports and culture. Nobody is claiming that soccer will be king or trying to take over like some people argue when they put it down, but as soccer keeps steadily growing, we have a right to voice our opinion and be offended when many people in the media blabber nonsense and hatred toward our sport, just like many people who have political affiliations get offended when things are said in the media that are hurtful and untrue of what they believe in.

    The positive of all this is that the change that we all want is now visible, that more people seem to be interested in soccer in America, even if MLS ratings are not showing it, other factors are, like expansion, USMNT, and the fact the Beckham is all over the news for whatever reason. Although there is a visible campaign against soccer from some people in the media, intentional or unintentional, their arguments are based from the way things were 20 years ago. The simple fact that there are many blogs and info of American soccer in the web now like never before should be encouraging on it’s own. So good job Kartik for making us debate subjects that makes us rationalize and discuss what we believe of our sport and it’s uphill battle for recognition. This country’s history proves that soccer will finally be accepted and considered a success.

  52. Chuck says:

    The author thinks Reagan was the worst President in his lifetime?

    He must not have been alive during Jimmy Carter’s administration. Yes, that’s where the media came up with a measure called the “misery index”.

  53. Chuck says:

    Just say you hate Fox and get on with it. What about Fox Soccer Channel? Geez.

  54. Curtis Spiteri says:

    Hey Diego, you’re right on and not alone. There are plenty of us Hispanics that have similar views to yours.

  55. adam says:

    Ugh. I couldn’t be more bored with this writer’s smug self-righteousness. I’m relatively conservative, I live in a very conservative state and I am a huge MLS/soccer fan. As is my entire (conservative) family. As are countless neighbors and friends and colleagues.

    Being opposed to soccer has very little to do with anything pointed out in this article. I know plenty of very liberal people who are every bit as uninterested in soccer as these allegedly xenophobic conservatives vilified in this piece. Do some research, for fuck’s sake, before slapping labels on everything simply because some rich Australian and his media outlets don’t seem to agree with your viewpoints. You think Fox has an agenda? So does every other media outlet in the world. Fox just happens to have a different ideology than the one you subscribe to. Get over it.

    Your viewpoint is the one insulated and slow, in addition to being tremendously and offensively ignorant.

  56. Gravypan says:

    You rail about the ‘hatred’ of the Beautiful Game.

    Then take a similar, hate filled swipe at the game of college football. All the while, making the horrible mistake of suggesting regional interest in the game has everything to do with one’s political affiliation.

    I guess you think Austin, home of the Texas Longhorns, is the conservative base for the state of Texas, right?

  57. Roger says:

    You obviously didn’t read the whole post: Kartik takes a swipe at the northern elites that hate America and has attacked Obama in another post as a eurosnob who will cost the US the world cup: bottom line- he’s just trying to stir it up.

  58. After some very enlightening commentary from readers and some soul searching I have revised my post of last week on conservatives and sports writers to just focus on the sports writers part. It was irresponsible of me to incite such passions especially since I consider myself a southerner who dislikes the Northeast and the passions of of the commentators seemed to break down upon regional lines.

    Sports writers who live in the Boston/New York vacuum and elite circles tend to be the biggest enemies of football in the United States. Keith Olbermann of MSNBC now a political muckraker, but former sports writer best exemplifies this trend among intellectually incurious and insulated sports writers.

    I am a liberal personally, but also love the South and Southern culture. (Although I will admit I loathe Bill Clinton and regret voting for him) Had I know my post would upset southerners more than northerners, or would have stoked regional flames I never would have posted it. My apologies.

    The bottom line is that Fox News was out of line as they are so often on socially divisive issues, advocating a position and using extreme commentators instead of simply discussing matters civilly. But this forum which is after all about football is not intended to mimic Fox’s extreme commentary or to promote divisiveness, especially given lovers of the game in this country need to be united against strong and determined anti-soccer rhetoric coming from all corners.

    I’ve learned my lesson on both this post and the post regarding President Obama and I will limit social commentary on this site going forward. If you are interested in my views on social or political issues please check out my political blog, Kartik’s World.

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  60. Soccerfan101 says:

    This guy is kidding with the Fox news bashing drivel. I only heard 2 of their commentators{both over 50} say they did not like the bad officiating
    & play acting. Who cares about Olberputz? He could not buy TV ratings.

    Anyone who thinks Reagan was the worst president should look at Carter.
    Yes, he brought the USA’s power, prestige & economy to its lowest level since Hoover. When he left office in Jan of 1981 he left 18% interest rates, 12% inflation & 10% unemployment.
    Now Obama the half socialist who keeps blaming Bush even though the economy was doing very well for the first 54 months of his presidency. Obama has more than doubled the debt of the past 8 years in 18 months
    with his suicidal Keynsian economic policies that have never worked.
    It was the Democrats who ran Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae into the ground & they would not agree with Bush when he wanted to overhaul it in 2003.

    The author of this article should do some research before spewing his junk!

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