The 22nd FIFA World Cup began Monday as 32 teams from around the world came to Qatar to compete for one of football’s (or “soccer’s,” to the civilized world) most prestigious titles. There was a lot of fanfare and celebration surrounding the games, as well as a lot of controversies, and all of it was probably an attempt to distract from the fact of just how awful it is to watch soccer.
Soccer is like the communism of sports. It sounds really good in theory until you witness it in person. Then all it is are a bunch of people incompetent at their job (scoring goals), falling to the ground as if they were dying while participating in an extraordinarily corrupt (FIFA) system. Waiting for a team to score takes almost as long as it took communist governments to provide bread to their people. The only thing worse than watching soccer are the people who insist it’s the “way of the future” (just like the communists promised).
As a former intramural soccer league legend (two-time all-star of Mr. Conway’s morning soccer league at the Central High School of Philadelphia, thank you very much), I really do believe that soccer is fun to play. It also requires a great deal of physical conditioning to partake in the “beautiful game.” But watching it on television should be considered a unique form of torture. It’s little more than an hour and a half of people chasing a ball around on the pitch. It is arguably the most boring sport to watch of all time — and I also say that as someone who attended the 2018 World Cup in Moscow while on a study abroad program.
The most exciting thing about soccer is probably the Apple TV series Ted Lasso, and that’s because it doesn’t include that much soccer while embellishing the amount of scoring that occurs when it does. There is just very little to get excited about when watching the game on television. Still, inexplicably millions of people do. However, millions of people legitimately thought communism would be a viable economic system that would lead to a utopia, and we know how that turned out.
Even the long-running animated series The Simpsons has frequently made fun of the sport’s lack of entertainment value. In one clip, an enthusiastic crowd is seen at a soccer match when the players start kicking the ball. After several minutes of doing what soccer does best, kicking the ball around and accomplishing nothing, the crowd loses energy and enthusiasm. The scene concludes with the stadium coming to a deafening silence, and Homer Simpson finally shouts, “Bor-ring!”
Another clip highlights the difference in how Americans mostly view the sport compared to the rest of the world. The cultural divide is depicted in the international commentator’s enthusiasm compared to the American commentator’s. It’s indicative as to why soccer lags behind football, baseball, basketball, and hockey in fans in the country and why only 7% of people identify themselves as “avid fans.”
My criticism isn’t just hyperbole. Consider the game’s scoring history. According to statistics, out of all the scores of professional soccer games ever played, the game has ended in a 0-0 tie nearly 23,000 times! Also, statistics show that the most common score of every professional soccer game played was 1-1, a feat that has happened 32,477 times. But the most shocking stat of all might be that nearly half of all professional soccer games ever played had a combined total of only two goals scored.
Imagine watching the NFL and approximately half of the games each week ended with a score of 7-7 or 14-0. Or watching a baseball or hockey game, and 50% of the contests ended 2-0 or 1-1. Why would anyone continue to watch?
Defenders of the sport continue to emphasize the skill of the players, the beauty of the passes, and the strategies involved. It’s complete hogwash. Anyone can get all that from any other sport while getting the entertainment that comes from offense and teams scoring points.
The so-called beautiful game is really a snoozefest that is unwatchable most of the time. The Europeans can have it. Let’s stop trying to make it relevant in the United States.