The Voice of the Conservative Movement at Wabash College

Soccer is for Wimps, Losers, and Sissies, and I mean it!

Soccer is ruining America, and there is very little anyone can do about it. Like a plague that weakens the body politic, it is spreading faster than AIDS in Africa, although, unlike sexually transmitted diseases, nothing can prevent its eventual triumph. Social critics have long observed that we live in a ‘therapeutic’ society that treats young people as if they can do no wrong. Every kid is a winner, and nobody should ever feel left behind. Whether the dumbing down of America or soccer came first is hard to say, but soccer is clearly the means by which American energy, drive, and competitiveness is being undermined to the point of no return. Whether Obama will destroy America is yet to be seen, but the impact of soccer is beyond dispute.

For those of you who are so used to the linear, two-dimensional play of soccer (its back and forth action is like the rocking of a boat but without any storm and while the boat is not going anywhere), I have numbered my objections to soccer for easy reading. I also want to give the soccer apologists an opportunity to respond to this article. Just email me at Webbs@wabash.edu and I will print the best of your replies. Try to write with some wit and intelligence, as if you are actually able to score a point against me, even though you probably have never scored a goal since your peewee days.

1. Every other sport is superior to soccer. When I was a kid, baseball was the
biggest sport. Striding up to the plate (even the language of baseball is overdetermined by rituals drawn from the deepest human experiences, like eating) and facing the almost certain spectacle of your own failure was the very definition of being a boy. We had square bases that had to be rounded, and there were no safety nets. A pitcher who usually was not much better than the rest of us threw a hard ball straight at us. Thus we had to face fear as well as the probability of striking out. We also spent a lot of time in the outfield chanting, “Hey batter batter!” as if we were Buddhist monks on steroids. At least this chattering gave us plenty of time for meditating on the frailty of human nature. And speaking of frailty, we played football only when we felt like beating up on each other, and we quickly figured out who we needed to avoid and who we could afford to hit hard. We learned to love pain, which readied us for the real world.

2. Any sport that limits you to using your feet, with the occasional bang of the head, has something very wrong with it. Anthropologists commonly define man (and I do mean men) according to his use of hands. We have the thumb, an opposable digit that was able to evolve only when we gave up walking on all fours. The thumb is what sets us apart from non-human animals; it lets us do things like throw baseballs. We can even talk with our hands. Have you ever seen a deaf person trying to talk with their feet? Even the lowest of monkeys can kick something. When you are really angry, and acting like an animal, you kick out with your feet. Only fools punch a wall with their hands. The Iraqi who threw his shoes at then-President Bush was following his primordial instincts. Showing someone your feet, or sticking your shoes in someone’s face, is the ultimate sign of disrespect. Do kids ever say, “Trick or Treat, smell my hands”? Did Jesus wash his disciples’ hands at the Last Supper? No, hands are divine (the hand of God!), while feet are in need of redemption. In all the portraits of God’s wrath, never once is He pictured as wanting to step on us or kick us. Only kids kick at things, like cans or rocks. And only hardheaded fools use their heads as weapons.

3. Soccer is a European, not an American, sport, because it is all about death and despair. Even the way most games end, in sudden death, suggests something of an old-fashioned duel. How could anyone enjoy a game where so much energy results in so little advantage, and which ends with a penalty kick out, as if both teams are ashamed to be declared victor? Is there any other sport where most of the fans hope for a draw? This is clearly an expression of European despair over starting and losing two world wars and then seeing their influence decline all across the globe. Soccer is all about learning to live with diminished expectations and overwhelming frustrating, rather than the hope and goal of victory. Soccer is for the weary and tired, the losers of the world, not those who want to build toward success. Shootouts are such an anti-climax to the game and are so unpredictable that the teams might as well flip a coin to see who wins—indeed, they might as well flip the coin before the game, and not play at all. And why is the only player who gets to use his hands called the goal keeper. In America, we keep things like gardens and pets. When we play sports, we make goal-line stands and we have fast break-aways. We do not keep a net safe, just as we do not need safety nets.

4. Then there is the question of gender. Any game where girls can play just as well as boys is a game that boys should not be playing. Girls do not have the reflexes, the visual excitability, or the foolish bravery to face speeding baseballs, and they do not have the strength or the need for pain to play football. And if they do play baseball or football, very few of them can compete with boys. But on the soccer field, speed and nimble feet even the field between the genders. Sure, when boys become faster runners as they get older, girls need a league of their own, but if you bring together some girls and boys together with similar running times, then you can have a competitive co-ed game. Any game that does not challenge boys to be men is not a game that men should be teaching their boys to play.

Let me conclude on a note of despair appropriate to my topic. There is no way to run away from soccer, if only because it is a sport all about running. It is as relentless as it is easy, and it is as tiring to play as it is boring to watch. The real tragedy is that soccer is a foreign invasion, but it is not a plot to overthrow America. For those inclined toward paranoia, it would be easy to blame soccer’s successes on the political left, which, after all, worked for years to bring European decadence and despair to America. The intellectual left in America tried to make existentialism, Marxism, post-structuralism, and deconstructionism fashionable in order to weaken the clarity, pragmatism, and honesty of American culture. What the left could not accomplish through these intellectual fads, one might suspect, they have accomplished through sport.

Yet this suspicion would be mistaken. Soccer is of foreign origin, that is certainly true, but its promotion and implementation are thoroughly domestic. Soccer is a self-inflicted wound. Conservative suburban families, the backbone of America, have turned to soccer in droves. Americans have nobody to blame but themselves. Baseball is too hard, football too brutal, and basketball takes too much time and is too dependent on repetitive activity. American parents in the past several decades are overworked and exhausted, but their children are overweight and neglected. For a family with little time, soccer is the perfect antidote to TV and video games. It forces kids to run and run, and everyone can play their role, no matter how minor or irrelevant to the game. Everyone is a star, and everyone is tired at the end of the game.

I should know. I am an overworked teacher, with books to read and books to write, and before I put in a video for the kids to watch while I work in the evenings, they need to have spent some of their energy. Otherwise, they want to play with me! So soccer and TV are the perfect complement, the peanut butter and jelly of parenting. Last year all three of my kids were on three different soccer teams at the same time! My daughter is on a travelling team, and she is quite good. I had to sign a form that said, among other things, I would not do anything embarrassing to her or the team during the game. I told the coach I could not sign it. She was perplexed and worried. “Why not,” she asked? “Well,” I replied, “I read books on the sidelines during the game, and this embarrasses my daughter to no end.” That is my one way of protesting the rise of this pitiful sport. Nonetheless, I must say that my kids and I come home from a soccer game a very happy family.

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Stephen H. Webb '83

About Stephen H. Webb '83

Stephen H. Webb is a professor of religion and philosophy at Wabash College. His recent books include American Providence and Taking Religion to School. He serves as the faculty advisor to the Wabash Conservative Union.

This is a joke, right?

I find your your claim about Football very insulting and rather ignorant for a man claiming to be a professor. I can argue with you forever regarding this subject, but I believe it will be a battle no of us will win, we have the right to believe and expressed our opinions without oppression. I believe you may be a sexist regarding your comment on girls being able to play our sport, let me just remind you that women have the strength to give birth to a child, therefore, they should be able to withstand an injury in our sport, your argument on agility is complete rubbish, and don’t let me remind you about other woman in other sports that have succeeded in ways that exceed those of many men. Our sport is called Football, the Brits created it an named it as Football, I believe you should find some sense in it with the intelligence you claim you have and tell me how your sport applies to the name further than ours. I love Football and so those the rest of the world, it is the most popular sport in the world, our world cup gathers twice the audience of the Olympics now that is an accomplishment worth mentioning.

Mr. Webb I would love to walk up to you at glorious Wabash college and say to you “I love soccer it is my favorite sport” because one: it is the truth and 2: I would love to see your reaction…

You attack soccer as if it were the worst of all games ever invented by mankind. You say that its simplicity is something bad. It isn’t! Being simple is the reason why it is so dynamic, contrary to this game that you so fondly call football, but where a player is allowed – or even supposed to – take the ball with his HANDS, a game that stops every too seconds.
And besides, soccer is just like basketball, but played with one’s feet instead of one hands. Seriously, I’m a player of both basketball and soccer and I can tell you that the two are very much alike, starting with the rules (there aren’t many in both games, which is a GOOD thing). As you so eloquently put, hands are the natural way humans go about their businesses, but the feet are a completely different story! It’s all so natural to use your hands, but this is the point of soccer (or football, which is its real name), to NOT use your hands, because it’s a difficult thing to do. One’s gotta have lots of ability and will not to touch the ball! It’s a game where you can learn how to control yourself, a game that allows people to really deal with problems with grace and diplomacy, instead of just pushing one another with terrible violence.
You are right to say it is a European sport, because Europe at least try to solve its problems with diplomacy…

While I find your tone disgusting I will try to engage you in debate. In baseball there is no scope for creativity. Pitchers have an arsenal from which to choose, batters must time the ball and outfield players must throw to the bases. In soccer however the players can engage with space and with the appropriate skill, if they have the vision they can create plays never seen before. I would encourage a child to play soccer so as to inculcate an ability to innovate under stressful conditions. In football, apart from the quarter-back the rest of the team is simply doing what they have been told. Even the quarterback is merely regurgitating the playbook often (but not necessarily). This is ideal if you want kids to do exactly as they are told when they’re older but isn’t there another side of the personality we aught to cultivate?

He’s at it again. A bit of inspiring reading for Independence Day.

Your just close minded and think in a stupid way. Soccer is just a goal post and a ball but the people playing have to create stratagies and techniques to reach the goal post. Its fun and requires skill. Why would you even spend the time writing about soccer if you dont like it. Your a joke.

As a European, I find American attitudes to soccer strange. People in the USA call it boring. I have tried watching American football and baseball–my wife is American, and believe me, I REALLY have tried; but after half-hour stretches in which NOTHING OF ANY KIND happens, I give up. Ice hockey can be fun, but that is because it is (wait for this one) EXACTLY LIKE SOCCER. Including the offside rule! The goal of soccer is to win, whatever anyone says. As to penalties, everyone hates them. But what is perfect?

You are so right about soccer….football is a mans sports

you are a sad individual and you have my pity.

This blog articulates exactly why Americans will never latch onto to soccer. It’s a passive sport with small moments of aggression. American sports are ALWAYS about being on the attack and winning as the ultimate goal. There ate no draws in Football/Baseball/Basketball. Enough said.

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