I'm a Sore Loser.

There is an awesome article in the WSJ about long-term goals for soccer in the U.S.

The hardest thing for people to accept and understand – longtime fans, soccer haters, the awakening media, the gleefully dismissive European football world – is that soccer in the U.S. has to be viewed through a lens more suitable for the Hubble telescope than for our nearsighted sports culture.

When I left the house yesterday morning, I felt incredible. I was walking on air. Never before have I commuted with such a grin on my face. I was going to meet my brother in a downtown Manhattan pub. I was going to put life and work on hold for a few hours and just exist. I was elated. I even ordered deep fried mozzarella sticks before noon.

And then we lost. We lost on a bad call, too. I told myself that it wasn’t that big a deal. I thought, “There’s always next time. In four more years, we’ll get ‘em.” And then, after I hit the street, I began to deflate.

Over the course of the day, I began to feel even worse. I wonder how it is sports fans do this all the time. If your team wins, that’s one thing. But when they lose it just hurts. You feel empty. You feel kind of sick. You feel like someone broke up with you. It really, really hurts! I know! That sounds silly coming from me, but it hurts. Suddenly, I understood why people at Penn State were so mean after a game. I began to understand why, as a waitress, I dealt with some of the grumpiest people. Their team had just lost. They were deflated.

Of course, I immediately began to hear the comments. I read them on line, off line, in papers, I had them emailed to me, said to me, and I overheard them said to someone else. It hurt. Hearing people say really negative things about the U.S. soccer team really stung. Granted, there were some wonderful things being said as well, but unfortunately, wearing the face of a loser, the negativity spoke much louder.

But hearing negative comments and being teased wasn’t the worst part. The part that really hurt was that this negativity wasn’t coming from people from other countries or opposing fans. It was coming from my fellow Americans. The situation was like having someone call my son or daughter stupid, say that my brother will never amount to anything, or claim that my mother and father could have done better.

Ouch, people. Ouch. The USA lost. I’m aware of that. It sucks. But why does that mean we shouldn’t even play the game? Why do some people think we don’t even have a place at the World Cup? What’s wrong with having a go at another fantastic sport? And the people who really upset me were the ones who brought up the war and the Bush Administration. The U.S is evil, they should lose! Blah blah blah. What in God’s name does Bush and the war have to do with our place at the World Cup? To those people I have one question: What’s wrong with you?

But I digress. I played soccer as a kid and somewhere along the line I stopped. I stopped going to games. I stopped talking about it. I don’t even own a soccer ball anymore.

“If Argentina can win Olympic gold in men’s basketball, the U.S. can certainly become a global force in men’s soccer.”

In a perfect sporting world, we’d allow ourselves to become a soccer nation. It’s the only sport where the rules are the same for both a male and a female. The balls aren’t different sizes nor are the fields. It’s the only sport where girls grow up playing the exact same game as their brothers. I want my daughter to enjoy it on TV like my son does a baseball or American football game. I want to consistently be able to sit in a bar and watch the USA play a soccer match. And I really don’t want to have to subscribe to some unknown sports channel in order to do so. I want ABC to carry the games all the time. I don’t want the USA game to be tucked away on ESPN2 where virtually no one can watch it. I want it on primetime. I want the sport to grow.

Let’s give America’s children in soccer leagues all over the U.S. another profession to aim for.

And, friends, what do you say we drop all the hate and insecurity.

8 Comments

  1. People tend to believe the US doesn’t belong at the World Cup because as a whole the US doesn’t care about soccer professionally.

    Soccer is ‘that sport’ that kids play in grade school, but by the time they’re in highschool they’re pushed to play basketball or football instead.

    You mentioned that the worldcup was mostly on espn2 and not network TV… To go a step further, there are US soccer leagues, but they’re never shown on network TV. I’ve flipped channels on the weekends and have seen Jai-Alai, bowling, curling, tons of more abstract sports , but I’ve never seen a soccer match.

    The US has some amazing soccer players, but as a culture we don’t value them or support them. We just say “yeah, they should win” when its time for the olympics or world cup. In all these other countries, when their team wins a game – be it in international play or a weekly league match – the cheer and support is comparable to when a home-team wins the ‘world series’ in baseball.

    The other countries know that – everyone knows that we don’t support soccer and we don’t respect the world cup- the us is just there to win at something else.

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  2. Your sentiments remind me of a friend of mine who laments over hockey- Canadian hockey teams in general as she is native Canuck (which I am sure to butcher the spelling). She is upset of Edmington losing the cup.

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  3. The whole point to being a sports fan are those feelings of bitterness and anger. People who watch sports to feel good are frontrunners and bandwagon jumpers.

    Let’s say the US had won the entire tournament (I shudder to think). How long would you have felt good? A week? A month? However, since they’ve lost (and lost on a admittedly harsh call), you can feel angry about it for months, perhaps even years!

    AC Milan lost the Champion’s League Final against Liverpool (English Premier League…yucch!) a couple seasons ago, giving up a three goal lead in six minutes, and I’m still bitter!

    I’m still angry that Italy lost the Euro 2000 Final against France on a stinking golden goal by that stinking Juve-merdi, David Trezeguet! (Five minutes of stoppage time?! Are you kidding me?!!)

    The Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the Atlanta Braves in the ninth inning of the seventh game on a once-in-a-lifetime hit by some nobody named Francisco Cabrera. In 1992!!! To this day, I don’t think Sherman went far enough simply burning Atlanta to the ground!

    Maybe the US would be taken seriously as a soccer nation if our fans treated our fallen gladiators like the rest of the world does: by pelting the losers with rotten fruit and broken glass when they slouch off the airplane at La Guardia.

    Anyway, enjoy that burning hatred in your belly. Those ulcers are the mark of a true sports fan.

    Forza Italia!

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  4. Jim – what?! Not even one mention of a certain poorly coiffed R. Baggio putting his pk over the bar against Brazil in 1994?!?

    I hereby accuse you of being a “Frontrunning Italian Fan”!!!!

    But I can feel your pain over losing a lead late Champion’s League final… damned Barca! And even the Ref admitted he blew it in that one! (Don’t bother saying the correct call may have made the game worse, I want to blame the ref).

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  5. I seem to be bad luck…I am from Edmonton and we know where the Stanley Cup isn’t residing this year. I was in Warsaw when Poland was knocked out on first round and I am in Pague for the czech disappointment. Anyone want me to come visit? Don’t tell England i fly there tomorrow or I may be denied entry.

    I think Ghana played a very dirty and unsportsmanlike gmae and that the US should be proud of themselves.

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  6. It seems every time I turn on the MSG channel I see the NY Red Bulls playing professional soccer. You guys should go see a match.

    As for that deflated feeling: imagine how Buffalo felt after going to the Super Bowl four times in a row and losing.

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  7. Meghan, very funny stuff. I will not tell England. My lips are sealed.

    Also, Ghana was a little dirty, weren’t they? But it was nothing compared to the NED/POR game yesterday. Ugly.

    Charlie, we actually watched the Red Bulls get the crap kicked out of them last night by Chicago and we are planning on checking out a game sometime this summer at Madison Square Garden. Should be cool.

    Poor Buffalo.

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  8. the swe/ger game was so dirty

    when someone lost a shoe, the guy he was covering did a ‘look , its superman’ then kicked his shoe 5 ft away

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