Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Kristen says...

I don't know if I should be admitting this when I am less than 3 weeks from entering Honduras, but ... I don't like soccer. (Or, as I suppose I will have to start calling it, fútbol.)

To me, football is that lovely United Statesian game played with the ovular ball every fall night of my childhood. And fútbol, well, that is the spring sport that takes good runners away from track.

I admit, I am biased--I grew up in Iowa, a place that (I think) takes football even more seriously than Texas does, and my dad was one of the coaches for my high school team, and both my brothers played (below). Some of my first memories are of football games, pizza after the games (win or loss), and of course, the football boys coming over to my house to watch tapes with my dad. Heck, I married a football player!

So, needless to say during this FIFA-thing, I don't understand what all the fuss is about. I heard a interesting "debate" on NPR called A World Cup Lover, Hater Face Off (search for June 15, 2010) where a fan and a non-fan talked about why they do and do not like soccer. I thought, 'hey, I am moving to a country where fútbol is important, I should try to appreciate it,' so I listened to this debate with interest.

They both made some valid points, which I have scored below, using the FIFA scoring system:
•I recognize fútbol is the most popular sport in the world, but [besides the bias described above] my number-one dislike for soccer -- it's boring! Maybe not to play (I suppose it can't be boring to play if it's the world's most popular sport) but to just sit there and watch...ick! (To be fair, I am an equal-opportunity sports disliker. I see hockey, basketball, and soccer as pretty much the same sport, just with different balls and rules on how to get points. Back and forth, up and down, pass and block...your neck gets stiff from all the turning you have to do.) (draw--1 point each)

•The guy who was arguing for soccer said that the US likes to win "world championship titles" in sports that only we play (football, baseball, basketball), which was both true and cutting. (3 points to the pro-soccer movement. A win at FIFA is definitely a world championship.)

•The very first thing pro-fútbol debater said, "The World Cup only happens once every four years, it brings together 32 countries that have made it . . . out of the 200 or so who have tried..." Now, if you have been reading past posts on this blog, you might have noticed I have a slight (huge) love for the Olympics. Chris, bless him, was in the car with me when this debate came on and we both at the same time said, "Um, the Olympics?" By this reasoning, the World Cup really is very limiting--you see, only soccer is played at the World Cup. So really, only the countries who have a history of soccer can succeed here. Whereas at the Olympics, anyone can shine. Is your country hot and steamy? Give the Summer Olympics a go. Does ice clog your rivers nine of 12 months a year? Why, you'll do great at the Winter Olympics! And it's not just 32 countries who can participate, athletes from 82 countries participated in the 2010 Olympics! 204 countries were represented at the 2008 summer Olympics...oh, and soccer? Definitely an Olympic sport. (3 points to the non-soccer guy. The Olympics are better because there are over 45 other sports to watch, something for everyone, not just soccer, soccer, soccer).

•The pro-soccer guy then tried to placate those of us in the US who don't like soccer by saying that the US will be winning the thing within 12 years, because we're so big, all the little 8-9 year olds are wasting their weekends on it, etc. From my point of view, I don't want us to win. Not because I'm not patriotic, but because that means that other sports like American Football, track, tennis, etc (will suffer). Then, (with the exception of Football, of course), where would we be at the Olympics? (3 points to the non-fútbol guy, just because I want him to win :)

OK so my bias shows through...but I really did try to find something good about fútbol. And I do support Honduras in their bid...from what I can tell from the online reports I read they did a fine job against Chile this morning, and only lost 1-0. They're still in it, I guess, so if I can find a television, and they're not playing while I'm asleep, maybe I will watch their next match. (I'd say if I can stay away through the boredom, although I hear those Vuvuzelas are so annoying that you can't fall asleep... ;)

Soccer lovers, change my mind. Why should I like soccer?

Go Honduras!



  1. I never really liked soccer either, but I did watch my friends play while I lived in Honduras, and though I still don't love it.. I think it's better "live".

  2. Don't change your mind - it's a world conspiracy. Stay gold USA!

  3. By the way, nice picture ;)

  4. Agree! Agree!

    I think those little girls are just the cutest!

  5. Alright, youse guys. It's ok to love the sport of your family and country, but I must counter on a couple of points. 1. The World Cup preliminaries had over 200 countries (I think 205) vying to get into the final field of 32, so I think it has similar representation as the Olympics, and if you count all the prelims/qualifying games, it actually goes on longer. 2. I have to say that I prefer the 45 minutes of straight action rather than the 15 seconds of play followed by a huddle, standing around, timeouts and commercials that drag a game on for over 3 hours. 3. While some soccer games may be low scoring, the strategies and spare goals can make for a lot of excitement/angst/discussion for days or weeks to come. I think the Swiss win over Spain would be a good example where Spain dominated for over 70 minutes but gave up a goal to the unexpecting Swiss. That will hold Spanish attention for awhile.
    4. Finally, soccer is truly a world game that is accessible by all. All kids need is a ball (sometimes homemade out of plastic bags) to kick around. The accessibility of the game, or at least its basics, are appealing to so many people everywhere.

    I'm not trying to take away your football love, but hopefully you'll see the beauty, skills, and reach of soccer, and grow to appreciate (and maybe even love) this game.

    PS - sorry about the Honduras loss. They could still make the next round though.

  6. I'm not really a sport watcher of any kind, but I am fascinated by the moves the soccer plays make and the way they can control the ball.

    I think Lisa has some great points. I'd add that Honduras is in the World Cup because the US beat Costa Rica last summer. I can't figure out the complicated qualifying rules, but it's fascinating that it's not just what you do but what the others do that determines qualifying.

    Also, my great experience last summer was watching one of the qualifying matches seated on the macadam in a gas station in Siguatepeque, watching the game on a wall above the car wash area!

    Go Honduras!


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