FACT: Outside of Brazil, no country bought more tickets. for this month's World Cup than residents of the United States.
The original inspiration for this post was an opinion-based piece appearing in The Wall Street Journal by Jonathan Clegg. Self-described as having grown up "as a soccer fan in England," Clegg calls Americans "a new scourge on (his) beloved game (worse than) shocking acts of violence... hundreds of abusive chants and... Pele (selling) erectile dysfunction pills."
The entire piece is worth a read, if you're the type that gets off on mediocre, hypocritical writing with an agenda based on enraged-social-sharing and pay-per-click silliness. Clegg attacks an admittedly small amount of US soccer fans: the poser with a "team scarf around his neck and a pair of Dr. Martens lace-ups," and openly admits he's "not talking about the vast majority." A throwaway distinction, considering the title of the piece is a blanket insult: "The Problem With American Soccer Fans."
Regardless, Clegg's indictment of such a small minority is so backwards in its logic, a reader can feel fully entitled to question the entire WSJ's editorial standards. The number of US Soccer enthusiasts that make Clegg's blood boil represent such a minuscule percentage of fanatics, it's as if he went to a Pentecostal Snake Handlers Ritual then penned a piece on organized religion.
I once ate a single piece of broccoli and declared I hated all vegetables (I was seven). Clegg's diagnosis of American soccer enthusiasts uses a comparable level of substantiation.
So that's why these words are here today. Regardless, Clegg presents as fine an opportunity as any to assess the American Soccer Fan.
This doctors diagnosis: American soccer fans are awesome. Like, Boston-Tea-Party-awesome, walk-on-the-moon-awesome or advent-the-iPhone-awesome. And like the iPhone, the number of Righteous American Soccer Fans viewable on our US streets is growing. Sales of the U.S. national team's jerseys have gone up three times since 2010, while ESPN is in the midst of airing 290 original hours of soccer -- approximately 12 days worth. For visual proof that American's care enough to "get it," go to YouTube (another awesome American origination) and type in "Landon Donovan Algeria Reaction."
This articles opening fact stands as testament to our awesomeness; despite having little-to-no chance of winning the tournament, more Americans will be invading Brazil this summer than residents of any other nation.
Now before you start reciting time zone realities, know this: the same was true in South Africa in 2010. Steven Goff of the Washington Post noted:
"According to the South African organizing committee and FIFA... more than 130,000 of the 2.8 million tickets (for the 2010 World Cup) were purchased by U.S. residents, the highest total by any country other than South Africa."
So, statically speaking, America is The Nation of Soccer, a fact we've backed up in the past two World Cups. Clegg and his ilk are in fact posing off of us, and not vice versa, as he'd have you believe.
(Ye gods -- can you imagine what we'd do if this was the World Cup of Real Football?)
Clegg and his band of futbol-elitists will undoubtedly be pulling for Ghana come June 16, hoping a quick-and-quiet ouster will smother growing United States enthusiasm.
Unlikely. In the last World Cup, the U.S. had over 112-million viewers, up 22 percent from 2006 (when the American squad went a brutal 0-1-2 with a -4 goal differential). Even a last-place-finish like 1998 can't stop this tsunami -- the sleeping giant has awoken, and the Inevitability of American Soccer Domination has the people in an adoring frenzy. In a weeks time, you will see a nation of sports fans rally to their teams side, and like the players on the pitch, the fans will be stronger and smarter and better than they were four years ago. And that pattern shall repeat itself again and again and again, until the Jules Rimet Cup Trophy finally arrives in its rightful place; the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
To quote the erectile-dysfunction pill peddling Pele, "Wait 20 years and you will see the [U.S. men's] national team become champion."
And when that day comes, I hope to be wearing a replica LA Galaxy jersey, with a team scarf around my neck and a pair of Dr. Martens lace-ups, stationed at the bar right next to Jonathan Clegg.