Soccer and Yanks

A reader responds to this anti-American diatribe:

I didn't "get" soccer until my son started playing at age 7, continuing to age 15. Now I "get" it, but I understand why a lot of Americans don't. Even though more American kids now play soccer than baseball or "gridiron" football (true -- you could look it up), it's just a lot more fun to play than to watch. On behalf of the average American, I enter the following pleas to Duleep Allirajah's charges.

"Exhibit A, m'lud, is that the Yanks don't like draws. They want to see a winner. They want shoot-outs to settle games."

Half guilty and half innocent of this compound charge. Us Yanks abhor draws AND shoot-outs, which are essentially coin-tosses that demean the preceding hour-plus of struggle. If a game can't determine a winner without resorting to crap like a shoot-out, then "Why play the damn game?" starts to look like a legitimate question.

"Exhibit B is that Americans don't like low-scoring games. The only thing that Americans hate more than 0-0 draws is Osama bin Laden. So short is the average American's concentration span that, unless there's a goal every two minutes, they're trotting off to the catering stall to buy another chilli dog."

Guilty, and with no apology. Look, everyday life contains quite enough unrewarded patience and unresolved ambiguity, thanks very much. We'd like something different in our sports.

"Exhibit C is the fact that they insist on calling it 'soccer'."

Again, guilty with no apology. The American masses used the term "football" for our gridiron sport for several decades before being exposed to soccer-football. We're not about to call sausage and mashed potatoes "bangers and mash," either. This is OK, and not meant as an insult. Hey, you can call a car's hood a "bonnet" and call a truck a "lorry" without us claiming you don't "get" motorized vehicles. (Though Lucas electronics make that case pretty eloquently.)

Oh, and Allirajah has forgotten something else: Baseball and gridiron football have regular breaks in the action, allowing a fan to get a beer and chili dog, or visit the restroom (you know, a "loo") without missing much. Soccer has many fewer breaks. And sports without beer and chili dogs is like bangers without mash, or fish without chips (and we'll call them "chips" before "freedom fries" sees the light of day again).