As inevitable as day after night, as sunshine after rain, as Chris Bosh crying after a close loss in a big game are opinion pieces from clueless American sports pundits after a big soccer tournament. These guys don’t like and don’t understand soccer, yet think they have the perfect solution to fix every problem with the sport, perceived or otherwise. Normally, it’s a tough task to find the stupidest, most banal piece of written diarrhea on the subject, but luckily for me, this year, one person has made the selection process exceedingly easy. Shaun Toback, please stand up and be recognized! Your work wins the coveted award. Your prize? A Red Carpet welcome to my shitlist.In response to a riveting Women’s World Cup which saw the United States mount comebacks and overcome stronger teams to reach the Finals, and Japan playing with a purpose and mounting an improbable run to the title, Toback chose to write a Cliche. He started with a Cliche – “I hate soccer, but because I want to see it succeed, here’s how it should change” (note to aspiring bloggers wanting to pursue this tired canard – you can just stop after “I hate soccer”. No soccer fan cares about anything past that), and carried on to hit every cliché reason for disliking soccer.I hesitate to raise this to the level of an actual argument by offering a point by point rebuttal (and anyway, Wrong Side Of The Pond did a good job here http://wrongsideofthepond.com/2011/07/18/seven-reasons-why-shaun-toback-is-a-xenophobe-asshat/), but I will offer the simple logical fact that things like offside rules, the size of the pitch, the effect of red and yellow cards, the size of the goal, the amount of players on the pitch and a myriad of other soccer details that people with no understanding of the game suggested changing to make the game more “exciting” to Americans are stipulated by the Rules Of The Game (shocking! Soccer has an actual written rule back. Perhaps Shaun Toback should consider reading it!). Playing outside rules will make US Soccer ineligible for FIFA-sponsored tournaments (which include insignificant things like the World Cup). And since most of the world things that soccer is the Greatest Sport Invented since running from sabertooth tigers, I think the chances of changing the official rule book to match perceived American preferences is not likely to happen.And it’s a bullshit argument anyway. Soccer is already popular in America as it is. 24.3 million viewers watched the 2010 Men’s World Cup final. Wayne Drehs, a writer for ESPN made a fair point in the aftermath of the Women’s World Cup ratings that, given the growth in viewership from round to round, if the US Men’s team ever reached the World Cup Finals, it would be the most viewed sporting event in the history of the US. Major League Soccer is no World Cup, but even despite the league’s subpar quality, the attendance continues to grow, and is now close to NBA attendance numbers.
And I guess when he said that Americans suck at soccer, he must not have seen this clip of Brek Shea breaking down 4 defenders on his way to equalize against Kansas City (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6udVFBFDy3w&feature=relmfu) or curling the ball into the net for a last-minute win against the LA Galaxy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDi8p87yIzw&feature=relmfu). Then again, I get the impression that Shaun Toback hasn’t watched much soccer, period