I’ve lost track of the number of times Americans ask me where I’m from, and I mention Wales — only to hear the next follow-up question, which is “Where is Wales? Is that part of England?”
While most US residents get an F in geography (not just from me, but from many scholars), I’ve found that soccer fans living in the United States are far smarter than average Americans for the following reasons:
- Time difference wizards. Ask an average American on the street how many hours ahead the United Kingdom is, or what time it is in France, Germany or Italy, and you’ll be met with a look of gaze and puzzlement. Soccer fans, meanwhile, have been trained to become experts on knowing all sorts of differences in time zones around the US and the world.
- Smarter in geography. As scholars of world football, American soccer fans are more likely to know the difference between Wales and New South Wales, as well as the knowing the existence of places like Kazan (as in Rubin Kazan) and Andorra.
- Better cultured. Ask most Americans to describe how cultures are different in, say, England compared to the United States, and many may find it difficult to go into a lot of detail. Thanks to the popularity of the Premier League, most American soccer fans will be able to talk intelligently about different cities in the country as well as which areas of the country are more economically depressed, and so on.
- More fluent with different pronunciations. American soccer fans who routinely watch continental football or the Champions League are a lot more likely to know how to pronounce the names of foreign cities such as Sevilla (as in the Spanish version of Seville), Fiorentina (as in the Italian translation of Florence) and so on.
I don’t mean to be condescending in the above article, so I apologize if it comes across that way. But I think it’s important to realize that while we all love the beautiful game, we are at the same time (whether we realize it or not) learning more about different cultures and countries, which is enriching our lives with a lot more knowledge (whether we’re Americans, Brits or residents of other countries).