Ann Coulter must have been hit on the head by a soccer ball, and it was no planned header. Her recent column , a screed against the sport and America’s growing interest in it, seems unhinged. She asserts that this is a sign of our nation’s moral decay, that the only reason we are interested in it is because of Ted Kennedy’s 1965 legislation to loosen immigration laws. That law replaced a system where immigrants were accepted based on national origin with one that took into consideration the immigrant’s skills and reuniting of families. Coulter is sure that “no American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer.”
Get that? Soccer is un-American. Well, I have a great grandparent who was born in Syracuse, NY in the 1860’s, and I’m watching soccer. Lots of it. My husband played. My son plays in the New England Over-the-Hill Soccer League. My daughter-in-law plays. And my two grandsons play, and play well. We are a soccer family, and gathering for World Cup matches is an intergenerational treat.
Coulter criticizes soccer for its absence of individual glory. (I assume she also hated the teamwork of the 2014 NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs and wouldn’t favor teamwork in a corporate or government environment either.) She definitely hasn’t heard of Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, seen his spectacular pass against Team USA or watched YouTube video clips of his Player of the Year highlights. Nor, for that matter, has she probably heard of Lionel Messi of Argentina. Both individually great stars who are also great team players.
Coulter seems also to feel that there aren’t enough serious injuries to make soccer a real sport. Dog fighting or Roman gladiators may be more her speed. Has she seen US forward Cliff Dempsey playing with a broken nose? Clearly she has never watched long enough to be aware of the concussions that players, down to junior high and high school level experience. Believe me, those dangers are nothing to be happy about. She wants personal humiliation. Remember Andres Escobar who was murdered by drug lord gamblers for his own goal mistake that cost Columbia the 1994 World Cup.
It’s fine to criticize soccer. Dan Shaughnessy says soccer is a turn-off. The boring parts are more boring for him than a pitcher’s duel where the baseball never gets out of the infield. But Shaughnessy is aware that soccer is the “world’s most popular sport…. that represents democracy and meritocracy.” There’s a beauty in its simplicity, as he puts it, a purity in the game.
Bill Littlefield’s piece on National Public Radio answers Shaughnessy’s quadrennial rant against soccer, saying the column “has assumed the consistency of leftover meatloaf forgotten for years in the back of the freezer.” At least Shaughnessy doesn’t descend to the pits of Coulter, using soccer as a way to attack immigrants, liberals, soccer moms, and the media.
Soccer’s not perfect. I generally prefer high-scoring baseball slugfests to nail-biting pitcher’s duels. So I do agree with Coulter (arggh!) and Shaughnessy about the frustrations of games that end in ties, even 0-0, or, as the rest of the world puts it, nil-nil. And the complicated tie-breaking scoring of World Cup Soccer is well beyond me. (And don’t get me started on the arrogance and corruption of the lords of FIFA.)
Unlike baseball and football, the constant flow of soccer (except for half time) is never interrupted by annoying commercial breaks. And for sheer athleticism, the beauty of intricately executed plays, and the excitement of shots on goal (even when they miss), soccer can take your breath away.
Coulter gets paid to make outrageous and offensive rants. We don’t have to read or watch her and would probably be mentally healthier if we didn’t waste our time. But her recent idiotic column was as irresistible as a highway crash, and now excuse me. I have to go check the television schedule for the next round of World Cup play.
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