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How Soccer Fans Should Deal With Non-Fans During the World Cup

Now is the high-water mark for being a soccer fan in the United States. The US national team escaped the Group of Death, the ratings for the World Cup are breaking records, bars are overflowing during national team games, and even non-soccer fans are admitting to watching every match in this tournament. This  is probably the best time to be an American soccer fan ever.

However, I have already begun to see the blowback from anti-soccer people who are loathing the bandwagon jumping and the gloating of soccer fans.  And, to be honest, we soccer fans have been preaching about the coming soccer wave so long and so forcefully that we at times get defensive and pushy to those people. Soccer fans earn their reputation as being pushy and condescending, but if we want soccer to move mainstream in this country we need to fight the urge to gloat. It is not here but if we play this right we may eventually convince anti-soccer fans to accept the growth of the sport in this country.

Here are four bad habits of rabid U.S. soccer fans that need to be resisted through Tuesday and hopefully beyond.

1. Soccer fans must accept that other sports are equal in entertainment value

Some but not all of us loathe other sports. Whether it is American football and its brutalism or baseball at its snail’s pace, we have to accept that other sports provide entertainment to different types of people, but soccer may not provide the same. If someone is a huge American football fan but hates soccer, there is no reason to argue why their favorite sport is inferior or on the losing side of history.  Let them enjoy and know that America is a huge country with enough room for multiple sports.

2. Don’t make it political

So far most of the most inane attacks on soccer fans – or maybe just the ones that have gotten the most attention – are from writers known for their political beliefs. The stereotype is that soccer fans are raging liberals while anti-soccer people are conservatives. I know liberals who love soccer. I know conservatives who love soccer, and I love people who hate politics who love soccer. We all do.  Let’s keep politics out of this.

3. Soccer fans have to stop saying the sport is here/arriving

Life will be easier for soccer fans once the sport is seen as equal to hockey and basketball, if not a competitor to baseball and football.  The problem is that the time is not yet here.  Yes ratings for World Cup matches are surpassing those of the NBA and MLB, but the World Cup has the rally-around-the-flag effect. MLS and even the Premier League have ratings that pale in comparison to those of the other leagues.  When we continuously harp on soccer “being here” and it is not, it gives ammunition to anti-soccer fans.

4. We have to accept that some of our rules are nonsensical.

If we are honest with ourselves, we can admit that some soccer rules seem silly especially in light of American sports history. We do not do ties in the U.S. – even hockey changed the rules to prevent this.  And, if we look hard into our soccer souls, we know that ties and “parking the bus” ar an ugly way to win something, especially a tournament. Dives can be absurd and something should probably be done about time wasting.  Stoppage time makes sense but if you are used to a clock ending in sports you can understand why people do not like it.  Soccer and its rules are an acquired taste; as long as the complaints aren’t mean spirited, explain and move on.  Don’t antagonize.  

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  1. sam b

    June 30, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Great post. As a big soccer fan, I am just tired of hearing the same arguments every time there is a world cup. There is a real fear of those especially older sports column writers that soccer can make it as a mainstream sport in the USA. They is no way these people are changing their minds unless of course the usmnt miraculously win the world cup. We shouldn’t get ourselves worked up trying to convince these folks to give soccer a chance.
    I know it is incredibly annoying when all these “soothsayers” proclaim soccer will remain a fringe sport.
    The main thing is more young Americans are getting exposed to the game. There is a big chance that they will remain soccer fans throughout their lives. There is also a good chance the casual fans will be converted to devoted ones.
    If not, we still doing much better than a decade ago. We have access to so many leagues on tv and the next 2 world cups will be on fox.
    As far as our silly looking rules. When people watch more games, they will get a feel for the nuances of the game. If it is your first time watching the game, understandably some of the rules will look strange.
    As far as diving is concerned, hopefully fifa will take stern action on repeat floppers. This is one aspect that needs improvement.
    Let all the haters keep on hating, we will go back to watching this wonderful world cup.

  2. rkujay

    June 29, 2014 at 7:18 am

    Having followed football since 1959, I must say that I have never heard that Americans equate footy fans with political liberalism. I am not a political liberal. I always say that in the 60’s we thought we were liberal, but in fact were libertines. Think about it. We said, Let me do my own thing. This is not a liberal notion.
    But most of us Americans fail to realize that politics and football are inexorably joined. (See Generalissimo Franco and Di Stefano).
    I could care less who likes or does not like footy. I long ago ceased to proselytize or apologize. Those who know matter. Those who don’t…

    • john marzan

      June 29, 2014 at 7:33 am

      soccer is one of the few times a liberal can show his patriotism and nationalism and #muricanexceptionalism.

  3. Martin J.

    June 29, 2014 at 12:33 am

    There are ties in American football. If no one scores in the overtime period then it is recorded as a tie.

  4. Dean Stell

    June 28, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Nice post. It is important in this month when everyone “cares” about our sport to be gracious.

    The thing the casual interest reminds me of is how much I don’t like most sports “fans”. By and large, American soccer fans are a pretty intellectual and erudite lot.

    What this month is reminding me is how many mainstream sports fans are ill-informed but don’t let that stop them from having extremely powerful and loud opinions about things they don’t know anything about. I remember those people unfondly from my days watching the traditional American sports. I guess part of the success of going mainstream is having those dudes around again, prattling on loudly about things that everyone knows aren’t true, loudly proclaiming stupid things, etc. LOL….

    • jtm371

      June 28, 2014 at 11:30 pm

      Quality over Quantity all day long :)!

  5. Seminole Gunner

    June 28, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    For my purposes, soccer has basically arrived in the US.

    We get every game of the World Cup live in HD. We get every Premier League game through NBC. There is endless coverage online. That satisfies my needs.

    I don’t need the rest of the American sports scene to give their stamp of approval to my soccer fandom. I don’t need everyone I encounter to be capable of discussing the death of tiki-taka or the rise of James Rodriguez. Frankly it’s sort of nice to be able to sneak through my workday without hearing a word about the World Cup and then
    watch it all on DVR that evening unspoiled (that would never happen with American football where I live).

    I say welcome those who want to start following the game, casually or otherwise; and shake off those who want to use the World Cup to attack the game. We get one month every four years, why spend it worrying about random critics?

    • jtm371

      June 28, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      Spot on my friend what a great post. Like i said before it is their loss. All the dinosaur media can all go and pound sand.

  6. Smokey Bacon

    June 28, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Trolls like Coulter, Olbermann etc are to be ignored. These no-nothing idiots are not worth the bandwidth. They are simply out of touch with the national mood.

    • jtm371

      June 28, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      way to cover your a$$ pick a lib and a conservative 🙂 could not agree more neither are worth a damn. Both publicity Whores.

    • Mark Williamson

      June 29, 2014 at 7:30 am

      I am a conservative, but giving someone a microphone or a seat in from of a camera does not make them more important or better than me. It is the Coulter, and people who like her (both parties) that are ruining this country, not the influx of world football coming in to this country.

  7. El Payaso

    June 28, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    Football not soccer…

    • Mark Williamson

      June 29, 2014 at 7:26 am

      In the U.S.we still have to use the word soccer to differentiate from the NFL sport of football.

  8. R.O

    June 28, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    If the USA win vs Belgium and make the Quarters, you’ll see people who have never watched a football (Soccer) game, all of a sudden run around chanting “USA – USA”.

    But that happens in all sports – the Bandwagononiers.

  9. CTBlues

    June 28, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    Time wasting is easily fixed stop the clock and just because you stop the clock doesn’t mean you have to go to commercial just like now.

  10. Charles

    June 28, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Soccer is not for everyone, and despite the attempts of too many trolls to inject themselves into discussions and tell me why I shouldn’t like it, I will continue to do so.

    The one thing that does get my goat are the professional political trolls who’ve take the time to try to crap on those following their national team.

    • Mark Williamson

      June 29, 2014 at 7:25 am

      Yes, but the political trolls, like the Hollywood trolls are less important to ME. They don’t care about us and quite frankly I think less about most of them.

  11. EPLNFL

    June 28, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Frankly the war has been won. While soccer will not replace the NFL, soccer has its place on the American sports scene. The haters are on the fringe and for some reason most are linked with the extreme right wing of American politics. These are the same people who believe men and dinosaurs where around at the same time. Enough said.

    Please do not take me wrong. MLS, US Open Cup, Concacaf Cup all have a lot of growth ahead of them. The National Team both mens and women’s have captured the imagination of the public and more importantly their hearts. We have seen bigger and bigger interest in the WC for the Men and Women as well as qualification and the Gold Cup. People will remember the large crowd at the Gold Cup final last year and good tv ratings for it even though it was a B team tournament.

    Many people on this site fought the battle and did it with class. Now that we soccer nuts have become mainstream let’s stay classy.

    • R.O

      June 28, 2014 at 9:50 pm

      The US Women’s Nat’l team has been followed closely since the 99 WC. Why because US people love champions and Championships of Big Events.

      All the women’s leagues in the US haven’t been successful, why in IMO it’s because the average person cares about the US being a World Champion and doesn’t care about a league championship.

      League championships are city/area localized and people outside of that area don’t really care, but a World Cup champion is for the entire nation.

      • john marzan

        June 29, 2014 at 1:54 am

        here are the TRUTHS about US soccer:

        1) americans care more about men’s pro sports than women’s pro sports.

        2) americans will support the national teams no matter what!

        if you believe the first two pts., then you know why the USA has yet to have a “soccer awakening”.

        USWomensNT world champions = soccer still a niche sport

        USMNT champions? soccer becomes the most popular sport in the USA.

    • Smokey Bacon

      June 28, 2014 at 10:37 pm

      Well said. Without question your finest post.

      • EPLNFL

        June 29, 2014 at 12:07 am

        Me or R.O?

  12. Huw Roma

    June 28, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    The reason I get defensive about the hatred of soccer is because I’ve been tolerating it my whole life. Firstly growing up in New Zealand where soccer is treated with disdain and anger. If you played soccer you were a ‘soccer fag.’ It was maddening.

    Then I moved to the U.S. where the same illogical hatred existed too and still does. As much as I try to ignore it and act like it isn’t there I’m unable to. What’s always angered me is the sheer lack of understanding and total unwillingness to even try to learn about the game. I came to the U.S. and learned about their sports and watch them. For some reason they can’t do the same.

    • Mark Williamson

      June 29, 2014 at 7:21 am

      Yes they can and they are!

  13. Kei

    June 28, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Us soccer fans in general care entirely too much about what the non-fans, haters, and even the casual, once-every-four-years type of fans, have to say about the game. The blowback to Ann Coulter’s article was somehow even more cringeworthy than the write-up itself.

    Don’t take their words so personally, and just keep supporting our teams, and the game itself. It’s no use being so defensive, insecure, and territorial about soccer in this country. As long as we’re all passionate about it, who cares if others aren’t?

    • jtm371

      June 28, 2014 at 10:01 pm

      Great post could not agree more. Who cares it is their loss.

      • Smokey Bacon

        June 28, 2014 at 10:42 pm


    • Iancransonsknees

      June 29, 2014 at 2:32 am

      A great statement about life in general.

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