THE BLOG
07/05/2014 01:28 pm ET | Updated Sep 01, 2014

Why Soccer Matters, And Why Your Opinion About It Doesn't

For those of you who feel compelled to air your rather dated and utterly predictable anti-soccer sentiments during this World Cup, may I take a moment to remind you of a few salient points:

1. The World Cup happens once every four years, dude. Whereas we have to listen to your fat-necked, macho throwback, ex-jock football and basketball "analysts" huff and haw and slap themselves on the back on ESPN for half the goddamn year, EVERY year -- so get over it. The terrible misery of having soccer dominate your Bud-sippin' jockiverse for a whole 30 days is nearly over. Four whole years of clean, virtually soccer-free, highly intellectual banter about Brady, Belichick and LeBron (snooze) await you. (Oh, and if you're a baseball fan, please don't call soccer "boring"; you'll spend upwards of three hours watching a game in which you can easily visit the bathroom 18 times without missing a thing.)

2. Soccer is NOT a foreign game, at least no more foreign than it is in Italy, Brazil and Germany, all countries that adopted the game from England and Scotland, where it was created. What's more, the US Soccer Federation was founded in 1913, got that? The first organized soccer match in this country was between Princeton and Rutgers in 1869, in virtually every way a soccer game, not a football game as the NFL would like to pretend -- throwing or carrying the ball was not allowed; you kicked the ball into the goal, just as was happening in the evolving English FA at the time. What's more, the American Football (Soccer) Association, our first PROFESSIONAL league, was founded in 1884 -- it would be another eight years before present-day "football," a clear analog to the game of rugby, finally caught up. Soccer is, in fact, a very American game. There's even a Hall of Fame. Learn about it.

3. Soccer not popular here in the States? Really? Hmm, NBC spent $250 Million dollars to secure the U.S. television rights to the English Premier League. Meanwhile, the audience for MLS has grown 33 percent in the last decade; there are now 19 teams, and some 18 soccer-specific stadiums across the country, with construction soon to begin on another SIX. Among Americans between 12 and 24, soccer now ranks as the second favorite sport behind football, and it's growing at a much faster rate. It is, of course, the #1 sport among the country's growing Hispanic population. It is, depending on who you ask, either the first, second or third most played game in the United States; and it's not just kids -- we have more registered adult players than -- wait for it... Brazil...

4. The U.S. Soccer Team does not suck, and is not always the underdog. As you are probably blissfully unaware, what we call the World Cup is actually the World Cup FINALS. The 32 teams you see on display have fought brutally hard in a pool of some 200 teams, in over 850 qualification matches to win the honor and prestige of being there in the first place, which we have done for every one of the last SEVEN World Cups. Underdogs? Screw that. We are currently ranked 13th in the world, ahead of Holland, France, Mexico and other long-time soccer superpowers. Oh, you didn't know? Then shut up, please. There are countless books on the game -- get one.

5. Your opinion is totally worthless anyway; sheer global fan numbers render your ill-informed whining about "how can they have tie games?" and "how come it takes so long to score" utterly moot. It's a bit like being a climate-change denier: just how provincial and narrow is the audience for the American sports you so admire, when compared to the global juggernaut that is soccer and the World Cup? Number of viewers of the Super Bowl in 2014: 111.5 million: number who watched just the World Cup Final in 2010: 909.6 million. That's more than three-and-a-half times the entire population of the United States, almost a billion people, for ONE GAME. You know all those thousands upon thousands of happy, emotional, highly entertained and fired-up Nigerian, Swiss, Belgian, French, Japanese, Costa Rican, Greek, Columbian, Brazilian -- and yes, AMERICAN -- faces you see during every World Cup game, both at the game and back in their own countries? They don't give a flying bicycle-kick about your tiny little opinion. You lose. Busted.

Most importantly, soccer is both a tactical chess game and an often brutal ballet, physical test of mental strength, creativity and skill, and a flowing, improvisatory athletic spectacle without equal, and with a global history and mythos and total cross-cultural embrace that makes football and basketball look a bit like, well, ping-pong or Jai Alai. You just sound dated, small-minded and painfully unhip when you lob your tired old cliches at it -- very 1974 of you. Give those of us in the know -- and in communion with the estimated 30 Billion other people watching the World Cup -- just a few more weeks without your miserable, poorly informed whining, okay? Then it's all you, literally all you... dude.