Now that the football fever has truly arrived and has the world in its grasp, America still continues to resist the ‘Joga Bonito’. After being asked why Americans hate soccer, Washington Post correspondent and blogger Mark Fisher gave a ‘inflammatory’ and ‘begging-for-fisking’ interview that ended up being published in many German newspapers. Now I am not sure if Fisher really meant all the things he said, but I could neither trace any signs of satire nor find any mention of ‘I’m kidding, guys’. Let me give you glimpses of his lack of understanding of the game that is so loved all over the world. If you want to read the whole thing, click on the link above.
“I don’t hate soccer, I simply consider it a sport that is fun for kids to play, but lacks the complexity and drama that make for a great spectator sport.”
Ok! So according to Fisher, football is just 22 dudes trying to kick a ball into the net on opposite sides of a 110-yard field. Surely, he hasn’t seen the 1970s Brazilians or the 1974 Dutch in action. The struggle for supremacy at the intensely-competitive English Premier League is just a matter of chance for Fisher. The complex strategies may not be apparent in the spontaneity of the game but instead it lets the players control the game instead of the coach directing the play via remote-control from the sidelines as it happens in basketball or American football. And mind you, those are interesting games to watch as well but sometimes the spectators need some unanticipated action on the field and let the players brilliance shine through.
“We tend not to be interested in sports that attract hooligans and riots. In America, spectator sports tend to be family events, with a wholesome emphasis on community.”
Either Fisher hasn’t been to an Oakland Raiders or Washington Redskins game or he doesn’t consider them part of the NFL. Baseball players and managers slugging it out on the field and bullpen right in front of innocent children sure instills the right values of family affairs. I say, we let Fisher introduce croquet or curling. No one ever fights there but then there isn’t any passion either.
“Baseball is the only sport in which statistics over the course of more than a century of play can be compared directly, allowing fans to know instantly how today’s players rate against those of decades ago; Every comparison that I’ve seen concludes that the single most difficult task in all of sports is hitting a baseball thrown at 95 miles an hour.”
I bet cricket has more statistics than Fisher could ever imagine and thankfully, we have numbers on the left side of the decimal as well. Babe Ruth’s record might be broken (or heck, it already is) but Bradman is supreme. And try throwing a full-toss ball to Dhoni at speeds higher than 95 miles per hour and see where it lands, if it ever does. Or regards football, try stopping a full-blooded Roberto Carlos free kick or a curling Beckham kick from the sweet spot, the goalkeepers rarely try to move.
“Soccer’s popularity in much of the world is sadly tied up with the most disturbing face of nationalism, and so when Americans see soccer fans waving national flags and chanting vile slogans against other nations, we are reminded of the horrors of terrorism and the unfortunate abuse of sports by terrorists and by nations.”
Are Americans that wussy as some people would like us to believe? Whatever happened to the spirit of U-S-A, U-S-A and the Miracle on Ice, don’t tell me that it was a Disney on Ice marketing campaign! America’s greatest technological leap i.e. the man on the moon was powered by vile slogans against the mighty USSR. Nationalism is forgotten over after the game is over especially over a pitcher of Germany’s finest beer. I am not going to comment on the oft-used terrorism fear. Be afraid; be very afraid works only when you are running for an impossible reelection campaign.
“We tend to like sports that can accommodate stories about players, coaches and other personalities. Soccer, as a largely anonymous sport, doesn’t fit. The game simply doesn’t work on television because the field is so enormous that the players appear to be tiny. Fans therefore cannot form powerful emotional connections with their play.”
Heck, with the right marketing acumen even bobsledding can have personality. Beckham alone is responsible for England’s gossip circle. Add a bit of Spice and the gossip mags make a killing. Britney’s nth pregnancy might not generate as much hype as a Beckham’s hairstyle change does. And guess what, it doesn’t affect his headers. Fisher hasn’t seen a football match so that’s why he believes that we always watch the game in wide-angle on television. If the field size is a factor, then Americans would be crazy about chess.
“It’s very nice for soccer-loving countries to have their little tournament, but to call it the World Cup is rather arrogant and overblown.”
Ok! this one sentence alone makes me question if this indeed is a satirical piece because no newspaper correspondent worth his ink. I am not even going to mention the ‘World Series’ or NBA champions being called World Champions.
Gosh! Almost every sentence can be fisked and counter-argued. But I’ll leave some for you guys. I cannot write any more; I pass on the baton.