Football, or soccer, is widely referred to as “the beautiful game,” by no coincidence. After just a few minutes of watching the sport, you’ll soon see just how beautiful it really is: the perfect blend of speed, patience, brute force and finesse.
After studying abroad in Europe, I witnessed firsthand how influential the game was across various different cultures.
From Spain to Italy, England to Germany, football is front and center – yet, in America, this is hardly the case.
In fact, if you’re a fan of soccer, stateside, you’re actually part of the minority. Yep, here in America, the “big four” – baseball, basketball, American football and hockey – reign supreme and hardly leave any room for attention to soccer.
Anyone who thinks of Neymar, after hearing the word “dribbling,” can attest to this.
Here are nine struggles of being soccer/ football fan in America.
1. You have no one to talk trash to.
Part of what makes sports so fun is the aspect of trash talk. When your team wins, you’ll find yourself with bragging rights and – if your team loses – you’ll often times find yourself with an earful of nonsense.
But, in America, nobody cares enough about the soccer to even talk sh*t about it.
Sure, you might be ecstatic that Manchester United won – and Man City lost to Sunderland – but good luck finding a City fan in your neck of the woods to mess around with.
2. You have to deal with "die-hard soccer fans" during the World Cup.
Yeah, it’s amazing. For one month, every four years, everyone (and everyone's sister, too) is the world’s biggest soccer fan.
Everybody is suddenly a soccer expert, brimming with national pride, and – despite the fact that they don’t even know what an offsides is – they insist they’ve ALWAYS been soccer fans (and then make a “WTF do you mean?” facial expression).
There’s nothing more obnoxious than fugazi soccer fans, who take their opinions to the public forum –usually in the form of paragraph-long Facebook statuses – with hopes of conveying how “important” the sport is to them. Yeah, right. See you again in four years.
3. You have to call it "soccer."
For whatever reason, Americans refuse to identify the sport by its proper name and prefer calling it “soccer” instead of “football.”
This creates quite the conundrum for football supporters, stateside, because in America, “football” refers to a different sport entirely.
See, I’ve always thought “football” was the more operative term for the sport, being that the game is almost exclusively played with one’s “feet.”
I don’t even know what the f*ck soccer means, but unless it’s derived from the word “sock” – which is at least related to the foot – it’s a stupid name.
4. You have to keep track of the time differences.
Considering most competitive soccer is played in Europe – and there’s a six-hour time difference between America and most of Europe – watching your favorite club, on a week-to-week basis can be challenging from the US of A.
And while most sporting events are best paired with cold beer and high intensity, this is usually not the case with soccer matches, which are typically played during the wee hours of weekend mornings.
Especially those mornings, when Chelsea kicks off at 8 am on a Sunday – and you’re hungover in bed, watching the match on mute – as to not wake up the chick sleeping next to you.
5. You have to deal with the overall lack of media coverage.
If you’re lucky, you’ll maybe find, like, a paragraph-long soccer roundup in the back part of the Sunday Times, but, aside from that, media coverage of the world’s most popular game here in the States is bleak at best.
While ESPN doesn’t hesitate when broadcasting professional bowling all day on Sunday afternoons, it appears that soccer is where they decided to draw the line.
Thankfully, soccer-heavy channels like beIN and Sky Sports exist to provide fans with an in-depth analysis. Sadly, however, these channels are not available in America.
6. You can't readily go to games.
One of the joys of being a sports fan is actually going to the games and physically supporting your team.
I mean, I’m from Long Island; whenever I want to see the Mets lose in person, it usually won’t require more than 20 minutes (and 20 dollars) for me to be at Citi Field.
I can’t say the same for Stamford Bridge, however, inasmuch as it’s in f*cking London – and international flights generally aren’t that accommodating. Thus, if you want to catch some live action closer to home, at least there’s always MLS!
7. Nobody wants to play soccer.
My friend studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina and said that – at any time of the day – he could step outside his apartment and join a pick-up game of soccer with local people from the neighborhood. And that's a beautiful thing.
Sure, pick-up games exist here in the States, but rarely on the soccer pitch. Americans would rather play pick-up games of "ultimate Frisbee" or park basketball – where the court is too crowded to even call "next."
8. You can’t buy a kit (that’s a jersey for you “World Cup fans”).
To buy an "American sport" jersey, it usually doesn't require much effort. As soon as you step inside any mall in the continental USA, you can be assured there will be at least three to five stores inside that contain a few "LeBron James" jerseys.
The same cannot be said for world-class soccer players, such as Gareth Bale for instance. To secure a Gareth Bale jersey, you'll either have to buy it overseas – or risk buying one from some dude in Thailand for $20 that will probably never arrive.
9. Americans don't care about any of these struggles.
The bottom line is, regardless of how many struggles soccer fans face in America, the greater majority of the population simply doesn't give a f*ck.
It seems as though Americans will forever be content with the prominence of baseball, basketball, (American) football and hockey – although nobody really cares about hockey, either.
Nevertheless, we American soccer fans maintain hope that maybe one day the rest of our country will embrace the beautiful game in all its majesty.
Although, I will say, we're not gonna hold our breath.