For my breed of liberal, the liberal who just doesn't care about sports, it felt strange to read Ann Coulter's viral column about why soccer is un-American. That's not because of the ridiculousness of what she wrote (though a line like "I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer" is trolling elevated to art) but because, uh, I found myself nodding along with Ann Coulter.
Low-scoring, handless, fundamentally silly—the knocks against soccer resurface every four years. Coulter sees these things as symptoms of the game's socialist soul. But I just see them as facets of a larger truth, which is that sports are generally a waste. Any complaints about any popular athletic contest feels compelling to someone like me, because they help explain why I can't connect with the TV screen come gametime in the way so many other people can.
This attitude is, of course, unhelpful. After watching America lose to Belgium in agonizing and thrilling fashion on Tuesday, it's impossible to deny what I (and I suspect even Coulter) realize, deep down: If you have a problem enjoying soccer or any other popular athletic contest, that's on you, not the sport.
Exhibits a, b, and c to that effect were Tim Howard, who nuked the notion that soccer is boring, random, and devoid of true stars (Coulter: "Do they even have MVPs in soccer?"). On the page, the fact that the U.S. keeper set a World Cup record for saves in a game (16) is just another statistic that just makes my eyes glaze over. But when I watched the process by which that statistic was achieved—really watch, beer in hand, surrounded by fans, aware of what's riding on the outcome—the feeling was entirely different.