In the Weekly Standard, a different take on soccer and American culture.
The good news is that it will take a near miracle for the U.S. squad to advance to the next round. That’s good because, truth be told, you and I don’t care and the rest of the world cares very, very much. An American loss in the World Cup is basically a requirement for international stability. Look how upset everyone got when we toppled a murderous dictator in Iraq. What would happen if America–not just America, but George Bush’s America!–won the World Cup? Panic? Riots? The upheaval of civilizations? It wouldn’t surprise me if Bush’s “pep talk” with Bruce Arena before the Czech game was really a veiled threat: “Hey, coach, good luck out there. If you win, the vice president wants to take you quail hunting.”
What would be particularly galling to the international community is that if we won the Cup, Americans would care about as much as they do when we win gold medals in the men’s biathlon or women’s downhill at the Olympics.
Why don’t we like soccer?…[T]here is one obstacle to soccer acceptance that seems insurmountable: the flop-‘n’-bawl.
Turn on a World Cup game, and within 15 minutes you’ll see a grown man fall to the ground, clutch his leg and writhe in agony after being tapped on the shoulder by an opposing player. Soccer players do this routinely in an attempt to get the referees to call foul. If the ref doesn’t immediately bite, the player gets up and moves along.
Making a show of your physical vulnerability runs counter to every impulse in American sports.