The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

SCHMIDT: Soccer is the sporting world’s NyQuil

In America, the existence of soccer-spewing Irish pubs is insipid and grotesque in the same way Brett Favre wearing purple is a crime against humanity.

The beers are unappetizingly dark and bitter, the bathrooms are dank and suspiciously sticky and the men are overly boisterous with their inane chatter and chants. Which of course brings us to the absolute worst thing about soccer-spewing Irish pubs: they spew soccer. They spew it from every television and every radio with reckless abandon.

Yet as fellow Marquette Tribune columnist Tim Seemen blindly tries to find a soccer team to call his own, I’m desperately trying to run away from them.

Before Landon Donovan and Bob Bradley show up at my door with silencers, let me explain that I understand that soccer is the world’s most popular sport. I know that soccer can rally countries, unite continents, cure cancer and find the body of Jimmy Hoffa. People adore it and that’s never going to change.

But there’s one thing people seem to forget in the hoopla of the World Cup and Cristiano Ronaldo’s dreaminess. Soccer, in any format or iteration, is unwatchable. The level of excitement during a match is coma-inducing at best, and upon further inspection, it’s easy to tell that the annoying buzzing sound that loomed over this year’s World Cup was not a grand collection of vuvuzelas, but a stadium full of snoring fans.

Soccer: the sporting world’s Nyquil.

Despite the lack of action, soccer still manages to draw an incomprehensible number of fans — fans who are willing to paint their entire bodies ridiculous colors, light trash cans on fire, and commit minor felonies all in the name of their favorite teams.

An estimated 715.1 million people tuned in for the 2006 final between Italy and France. In terms of viewers, the World Cup makes the Olympics look like a Kenosha variety show.

Maybe I just don’t get it. Maybe most of America just doesn’t get it. Maybe with the right team, with the right opportunity, at the right time, there can be a soccer revolution in this country.

But I doubt it. Look at the facts. America is a place all about instant gratification. We need bone-crushing tackles, high-flying dunks, towering homeruns that scrape the underside of Jupiter. Waiting an hour before a team even a shot on goal is practically a death sentence. Strap me up to an electric chair because there’s no way I’m watching the Chicago Fire play footsy for 90 minutes.

Here’s how sad the soccer situation is in America. Team USA scored a total of four goals in group play at the World Cup, the team won one match against Algeria (who didn’t score any goals in the tournament), tied matches against England and Slovenia, and barely squeaked into the knockout stage when Slovenia was beaten 1-0 by England. It was considered the best performance by an American team in 70 years.

Team USA promptly lost to Ghana three days after its match with Algeria in a real nail-biter, 2-1. Donovan, Bradley and company returned home as heroes, doing the media tour with Letterman and Leno praising their efforts.

One win. That’s it. Apparently the bar is so low that even Mini Me can’t limbo under it.

Even though I won’t tolerate or watch soccer, the educated fan in me knows I have to respect a sport so historic and grand in scale.

I respect that because of the current rules and regulations in place, it’s basically impossible to score. I respect that Marquette’s men team has made great strides to becoming a decent player in the Big East, and that the women’s team is truly one of the elite programs in the country. I respect Team USA and the media for desperately trying to spark some interest in the sport.

That doesn’t change the fact that watching soccer is like listening to Ben Stein narrate “A Tale of Two Cities”.  And you wonder why the Irish have drinking problems.

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  • C

    Cristiano RonaldoSep 20, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    This is a column, not a friggin sports almanac. Nothing in this in untrue. Its one person’s opinion, which is exactly what a column is supposed to be. And if you think this dude is “trying to touch nerves,” perhaps you should go read the articles about porn and gay marriage. Saying soccer is boring is hardly as bad as that.

  • R

    R.W. WrightSep 18, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    This “column” by Erik Schmidt could not be dopier. From the silly lack of understanding, to the many untruths and gross exaggerations, to the ridiculous overwriting, this “column” is Schmidt’s transparent effort to touch nerves and generate angry responses. In the same column in which he so cleverly calls soccer “the sporting world’s Nyquil,” Schmidt reports correctly that “soccer is the world’s most popular sport,” and that “soccer still manages to draw an incomprehensible number of fans.” There are a million and one topics out there for column writers. Schmidt should go out and find a few. This one did not work.

  • S

    sportsfanSep 17, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    I agree about boring soccer. I can not watch that sport.

  • J

    JockSep 17, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    To each, his own (opinion and perspective, that is), but the piece seems in many ways quite uniformed:

    Re: Irish Pubs
    In the US, televised ‘association football’ (‘assoc.’, from which the noun ‘soccer’ was derived) is a staple at the bars, pubs, and clubs frequented by patrons with cultural roots in countries where the sport is popular, and that includes many, many more countries beyond Ireland (and the British Isles)! Many of the most dedicated fans of the sport aren’t Irish (or British)…

    The game is, of course, appreciated by many Americans that played it at grade/high school or intramural level…

    Re: Excitement
    One wonders how much the writer knows and appreciates about team sports and all that makes for team sporting brilliance?! Different team sports have different rules – to conclude that one team sport is less exciting than another because its score line typically changes at a slower rate displays a disregard for their differences and is profoundly shallow! In a similar vein, since many folks find the predictable back-and-forth scoring involved in the typical NBA game most dull indeed, they only bother watching the dying minutes of the fourth quarter, at the end of which a winner should emerge! While victory in all team sports is determined by the final score line, most of the excitement and entertainment stems from the skills, techniques, strategies, tactics, and dynamics employed by the teams and their players…

    It’s one thing to articulate the (similarities and) differences between the most popular team sports in America and one popular elsewhere, but beyond that, the writer seems to denigrate the latter through a myopic ethnocentric lens, an approach that’s the cause of many of the world’s polarizing problems…and considering the high probability the writer’s an MU student, one would like to think they’re being taught to perceive and not merely allude to but understand ‘the big picture’, if for no other reason than for the increasingly competitive global marketplace they’ll graduate into…

    The global perspective is, of course, quite a challenge in a country that christens its major league champions ‘The World Champions’ of leagues that no one else (other than a very few Canadian teams) participates in or even bothers with…