The 22nd FIFA World Cup kicked off on Monday as 32 teams from around the world descended on Qatar to compete for one of football’s (or ‘soccer’, in the civilized world) most prestigious titles. There was a lot of fanfare and celebration surrounding the games, as well as a lot of controversy, and all of it was probably in an attempt to distract from the fact how awful football is to watch.
Football is like the communism of sport. It sounds really good in theory until you experience it in person. Then it’s just a bunch of people who are incompetent in their job (scoring goals) and fall to the ground as if they’re dying while participating in an extraordinarily corrupt (FIFA) system. Waiting for a gate takes almost as long as it took communist governments to provide their people with bread. The only thing worse than watching football is people who insist it is “Way of the Future” (just like the communists promised).
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As a former soccer league legend (two-time Mr. Conway’s Morning Soccer League All-Star at Central High School of Philadelphia, thank you), I truly believe soccer is fun. It also requires a high level of physical fitness to participate in the “beautiful game”. But watching it on TV should be considered a unique form of torture. It’s little more than an hour and a half with people chasing a ball around the court. It’s arguably the most boring sport of all time – and I say that as someone who attended the 2018 World Cup in Moscow while studying abroad.
The most exciting thing about football is probably the Apple TV series Teddy Lasso, and that’s because it doesn’t involve as much football while it embellishes the number of points that occur when it does. There is very little that is exciting about watching the game on TV. Yet, inexplicably, millions of people do. But millions of people rightly thought that communism was a viable economic system that would lead to utopia, and we know how that turned out.
Even the long-running animated series The simpsons has frequently poked fun at the sport’s lack of entertainment value. in the a clip, an excited crowd is seen at a soccer game as the players start kicking the ball. After a few minutes of doing what football does best, kicking the ball around and getting nothing, the crowd loses energy and enthusiasm. The scene ends with a deafening silence in the stadium, and Homer Simpson finally shouts, “Bor-ring!”
Another clip highlights the difference in how Americans mostly view the sport compared to the rest of the world. The cultural divide is evident in the enthusiasm of the international versus the American commentator. It is telling of why football lags behind football, baseball, basketball and hockey among fans across the country and why only 7% of people identify themselves as football “enthusiastic fans.”
My criticism is not just exaggeration. View the game’s scoring history. According to statistics, out of all professional soccer games ever played, the game almost ended in a 0-0 draw 23,000 times! Statistics also show that the most common result of every professional soccer game played was 1-1, a feat that has happened 32,477 times. But perhaps the most shocking statistic of all is that almost half of all professional football games ever played have had one combined only scored two goals in total.
Imagine you are watching the NFL and about half of the games each week end in a score of 7-7 or 14-0. Or watching a baseball or hockey game and 50% of the matches ended 2-0 or 1-1. Why would anyone keep watching?
The sport’s defenders continue to emphasize the skill of the players, the beauty of the passes and the strategies involved. It’s utter nonsense. Anyone can get all of that from any other sport while getting the entertainment that comes from offense and teams scoring.
The so-called beautiful game is truly a slumber feast that’s unseen most of the time. The Europeans can have it. Let’s stop trying to make it relevant in the United States.
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