The 2014 World Cup so far has been the most watched soccer event in U.S. TV history as national interest in soccer reaching an all-time high. Yet, conservative pundits can’t seem to catch the soccer wave and have resorted to myths to prove their point.
The first salvo of conservative anti-soccer fervor was fired back in 2010 from Glenn Beck and G. Gordon Liddy. Beck said that “we don’t want the World Cup, we don’t like the World Cup, we don’t like soccer, we want nothing to do with it.” Well, the last U.S. World Cup match in 2010 (a loss against Ghana) was watched by 19.4 million viewers. So clearly, “we” don’t like soccer.
Liddy said “Whatever happened to American exceptionalism? This game … originated with the South American Indians”. As Dave Zirin of “The Nation” pointed out, one particular story of soccer’s origins is that “the sport took root in England in the 8th century because the King’s army playfully kicked around the detached cranium of the conquered Prince of Denmark.” South American Indians, huh?
Ann Coulter recently took the conservative anti-soccer banner with her column “America’s Favorite Pastime: Hating Soccer”. Coulter wrote that interest in soccer can “only be a sign of the nation’s moral decay”. Her points included such classics as “it’s a sport in which athletic talent finds so little expression that girls can play with boys. No serious sport is co-ed, even at the kindergarten level.” I am sure that Billie Jean King or the Katie Hnida (first female to play Division I collegiate football) would echo these sentiments.
Coulter also stated, “The prospect of either personal humiliation or major injury is required to count as a sport.” Tell this to Clint Dempsey, the U.S. Forward who has not missed any time due to a broken nose. Top athletes (LeBron James and Kobe Bryant) from an “American” sport (basketball) both missed games when they broke their noses.
Dr. Keith Ablow, another conservative, recently insinuated that the World Cup is an Obama – conspiracy to divert the public from important national issues! Even the panel on the Fox Business News show “Outnumbered” could not believe their ears.
Finally, one conservative pundit tried to buck the trend. Rush Limbaugh recently discussed watching the US – Portugal match. But even Limbaugh could not resist dropping a conservative bombshell. In speaking about Portuguese star Christiano Ronaldo, Limbaugh stated, “Do you know why he chose the name Ronaldo? Because his hero’s Ronald Reagan.”
Sorry, but even in exotic places such as Portugal, children do not “choose” their name; the parent’s do. Ronaldo was named by his father after his favorite actor – Ronald Reagan!
What is behind this anti-soccer lunacy from conservative pundits? Coulter blamed the liberals, but the facts counter her argument. The U.S. – Portugal match had 25 million viewers; about the same as the NBA finals average. Then, according to livability.com, the 7 of the 10 best U.S. locations for soccer are “red” states who voted for Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential election. So, is it the liberals spinning this tale, or Coulter not paying attention to her audience?
Maybe, it is just too hard to admit that soccer is a growing sport because of its international appeal from immigrant populations. Maybe more Americans are just not afraid to show some national pride in an event with the rest of the world. Maybe Coulter, Liddy, Ablow, and Limbaugh are just more out of touch with America than originally thought.