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A few of you may be interested in the North American view...

John Doyle is Irish, and writes (TV critic) in the Globe and Mail, based out of Toronto. He occasionally writes about football for both the G&M as well as the Guardian.

He seems fed up of the freshly brave sawker haters, as I am. So tired of "glad that's over" articles and the like, primarily from south of the border.

Anyway, I thought you might be interested to see the colonial (Canadian, not Irish!!!) point of view...

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/soccer/sorry-if-you-think-soccer-sucks-but-nobody-cares-what-you-think/article1636419/

Comments

  • Enjoyed that
  • How can we seriously expect your average North American Jock to have the concentration span that is required to sit down & watch 45 minutes of unbroken sports action with NO COMMERCIAL BREAKS!!!

    That is the simple reason why it will never be a mainstream sport. In my experience over here, North American sport - even for so called fans - is just something to fill the TV screens in the bar, while they dig into their mountains of Nachos & sup their Bud Lights. It is background noise, with great commercials for the latest trucks, fast food or pissy beer.

    The attitude towards sport over here is echoed in a large part in their attitude to food - the more the better, the bigger the better - but to hell with the quality. Hence in soccer the oft heard whinge, not enough goals. They need goals every few minutes in N American sports to create the space for TV commericals and to fill the endless "highlights" reels that fill Sports News programming.
  • That's a great article. Cheers Can.
  • Um Oakster, I agree with a lot of the sentiment in your post, particularly with regard to the unfortunate need for commercial breaks in televised sport, but I'm not sure that food "the more the better, the bigger the better, the hell with the quality" is a uniquely North American phenomenon...

    Also, referring to the "attitude toward sport" here? I'm not a big hockey guy, and frankly tend to prefer sports that can be a bit marginal here, but sounds to me like you're in the wrong bars. Reading your post a few times makes me think that it sounds like you've had a rough day! :-)

    I'm not so sure that it'll never be mainstream (In fact, I think it already is, at least in Canada). ESPN got huge viewership numbers for the whole tournament, even post-USA departure, and I think that a lot of the soccer-haters down south are resistant to what they quite rightly see as a foothold for football in the US.
  • [cite]Posted By: Can-addick[/cite]Um Oakster, I agree with a lot of the sentiment in your post, particularly with regard to the unfortunate need for commercial breaks in televised sport, but I'm not sure that food "the more the better, the bigger the better, the hell with the quality" is a uniquely North American phenomenon...

    Also, referring to the "attitude toward sport" here? I'm not a big hockey guy, and frankly tend to prefer sports that can be a bit marginal here, but sounds to me like you're in the wrong bars. Reading your post a few times makes me think that it sounds like you've had a rough day! :-)

    I'm not so sure that it'll never be mainstream (In fact, I think it already is, at least in Canada). ESPN got huge viewership numbers for the whole tournament, even post-USA departure, and I think that a lot of the soccer-haters down south are resistant to what they quite rightly see as a foothold for football in the US.

    Yes - maybe I was a little over the top!!

    Don't forget though Alberta is the most American state of them all, so some of the redneck ways of thinking Down South are very prevalent here, Ontario is much more open-mided & worldlywise I think! I am sure the sports headlines in Ontario today are World Cup related, I think it was 4th or 5th on the list here, behind the godforsaken CFL & some Hockey news.
  • I'll never forget going to a couple of Toronto Raptors games and was confused when it suddenly all stopped for a "break on the floor"

    I couldn't work out if it was a timeout or injury to a player. I was promptly told it was a televised game and this was an ad break.
  • Very good and this relates somuch to us charlton fans

    "Soccer is a sport perfectly designed to reinforce a tragic view of the universe, because basically it is a long series of frustrations leading up to near certain heartbreak."
  • [cite]Posted By: Oakster[/cite] behind the godforsaken CFL

    I quite liked the CFL when I was based in Calgary for a few months a couple of years ago. Went to a couple of Stamps games and quite enjoyed them. I was astounded by the amount of advertising involved though, the game just seemed to stop quite randomly in order to make time for them or some weird on field promotion - like parading a fleet of the latest Mazdas around the pitch 2 downs into a play. People seemed to spend more time downstairs stcking up on beers and hotdogs than actually watching the game. me and the Lincoln fan I was watching one of the games with sat and watched every minute like you would a proper football match, but I think we were the only ones!

    Not a patch on Soccer mind you, but I think there are things the proper football could learn from sports like the CFL - for example the attractive ticket pricing and policies like only televising a game once all the match tickets have been sold.


    [cite]Posted By: Kap10[/cite]

    "Soccer is a sport perfectly designed to reinforce a tragic view of the universe, because basically it is a long series of frustrations leading up to near certain heartbreak."

    That sentance perfectly sums up the love hate relationship we all have with the game and our teams - something not only the Yanks don't get but also the legions of West Country Man Utd fans etc. but it does highlight perhaps why the Yanks don;t really get it. American culture is all about the can-do spirit and the adulation of winners, following a team like Charlton wouldn't be in their national make-up, generally speaking. whereas it fit perfectly with the average Brits cynical a twisted view on the world. It's the hope that kills you, after all.
  • In fairness to our friends from the US, I watched a couple of the US world cup games in local bars( the England game & the Algeria game which was showing on a couple of screens during the England v Slovenia game)and on each occasion there were sizable groups of Americans all of whom seemed to be into it and were reasonably knowledgable. In fact their celebration of the last minute winner v algeria was very impressive. I have many business relations with americans and Bermuda is also full of them and I would say in general I have noticed a shift in the US attitude to "soccer" over the last 10 years. A lot more seem to be getting it, and watch out because a lot more kids are playing it there. It's the fastest growing sport in the US.The MLS is improving and is played to reasonable crowds now. I don't think after Englands performance in the WC we can afford to patronise them.

    HBO have a program called real sports hosted by Bryant Gunbal. A recent show had him comparing the WC to major US sporting events, basically he summarised by saying how refreshing he found it compared to the commercial side of the US sports, he enjoyed the fans enthusiam and the fact that referees made mistakes because of the fast flowing nature of the game. He also identified it as a true world sport. He is a respected TV presenter and I think his remarks reflect a major shift in the US public's relationship with football.
  • John Doyle is an exceptional Canuck insofar as he seems to relish being a prick for the sake of being a prick. This is apparently unusual enough in Canada that he is given a venue for providing his "contrarian" views to what are largely invented or exaggerated conventional wisdom apostasies. Witness, for example, Doyle's embarrassing cultural and ethnic defense of diving in soccer. Doyle's schtick is not that unique on this side of our common border, as America's cup overflows with folks who intentionally misrepresent reality to position themselves as the one true fount of knowledge and valor. Doyle wrote a book on soccer -- retreading prior columns. No one bought it. Sorry that no one purchased your book. But the rest of the world doesn't care that you wrote one.

    Yes, some American commentators whine incessantly about how much they hate the sport. Yes, some journalists screwed up in their reporting and displayed vast ignorance of the world outside of our borders. But focusing on these instances at the exclusion of the flip side of that coin is inherently distortive. Americans -- and as I experienced in my brief trip to the Stade Saputo in Montreal last week, Canadians -- have embraced the sport to a degree that the stereotype of the soccer-hating, gridiron-loving lout is no more useful than that of the effete soccer non-athlete.

    As to this:
    [cite]Posted By: Exiled_Addick[/cite]
    That sentance perfectly sums up the love hate relationship we all have with the game and our teams - something not only the Yanks don't get but also the legions of West Country Man Utd fans etc. but it does highlight perhaps why the Yanks don;t really get it. American culture is all about the can-do spirit and the adulation of winners, following a team like Charlton wouldn't be in their national make-up, generally speaking. whereas it fit perfectly with the average Brits cynical a twisted view on the world. It's the hope that kills you, after all.

    the thought that "Yanks don't get" with teams and sport is fairly bizarre. My family chose to become Charlton supporters. We voluntarily trek to The Valley whenever we are in Britain. We have never seen Charlton win. Most of you here have the excuse of having grown up with them. But as Chicagoans, we grew up with sport as something approximating religion and have, by necessity, learned that winning is utterly unimportant to attachment to a team. Indeed, as a fan of the Chicago Cubs, I and millions of others in this vast country who share the same allegiance have completely excised winning from our experience as fans. We are a sporting culture. We embrace competition. We value loyalty and fidelity to a degree that Brits appear to totally misunderstand (a deficiency shared by, say, LeBron James). Generally speaking, supporting a team like Charlton is the quintessence of our national make-up. And so, in a more general sense, is supporting soccer. The question of whether the U.S. (or Canada) will ever adulate soccer to the same extent as the rest of the world is no longer interesting because it is no longer a question. The more interesting question is: what is the rest of the world going to do (read: y'all) when the game in this country fairly reflects the passions that millions here feel for it?
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  • CA, no doubt John Doyle is a contrarian. He's a terribly interesting guy, if a bit pricky, as I've met him a couple of times, and he doesn't even warm up that much face to face, but I love his writing, particularly given that he is a TV writer, of all things. The fact is, he is a TV writer who is sent to cover football at the major tournaments because he knows it (which is an accomplishment, growing up where and when he did...he tells some great stories about the reach of the GAA), and truly does have a passion for the game, rather than for a club or even a country.

    Your comment about supporting a club like Charlton is a prescient one, but I'm unfortunately not sure that it applies to Americans as much as they'd like to think. I don't claim that it applies to Canadians either, btw. The exceptions? You mentioned one...the Cubs, and another is the Toronto Maple Leafs. The most significant part of supporting them is the right to complain.

    I don't want to write yet again about how European and North American sports defy comparision due to the franchise system here, but a professor of mine did one opine about how with franchises moving, free agency (to think there are still people wondering if the Bosman rule is a good thing...would never happen here!) players leaving, owners changing, league realigning etc., at the end of the day, pro sports fans here are cheering for little more than laundry. Doyle makes that point, although a bit awkwardly for my liking, about River Plate, but save the Red Sox, Cubs and Leafs, we just don't have the same relationship with our teams that I see on this board every day. That's why I like this board so much. Even the vaunted Montreal Canadiens don't sell out when they stink.

    You're right...he wrote a book, but not only did a lot of people buy it, but a lot did in a short period of time, because it only came out just prior to the World Cup (what, late May?)! In fact, the book tour is why he couldn't go to SA...but I disgress.

    Your reaction is similar to mine when I read Oakster's post. The fact is that his allegedly over the top analysis had some nuggets of truth that I bristled at, but unfortunately recognised, and I see the same in Doyle's piece. Sometimes a mirror can be a bit uncomfortable and I don't excuse myself from that.

    But, the fact remains that you are right. An awful lot of Americans have embraced soccer (always as a participatory sport, and now a spectator one too), and there is a great short opinion piece in Sports Illustrated this week saying that before the next WC, you (USA) need a homegrown commentator for ESPN, and someone should be chosen to go over to the English "lower leagues" (gulp!) and learn the trade, terms like woodwork and to refer to teams in the singular! I think that this World Cup has turned the tide the way that the NASL and MLS have not quite yet, and that come 2014, the USA will expect results, rather than look at this foreign tournament as an oddity.

    My base point remains however the same as Doyle's. I am fed up of hearing people (and yes, they are primarily American, but that's probably a result of media saturation more than anything else!) talk about how glad they are that the World Cup is finally over, and how much soccer (yes...) sucks. I have nothing but respect for people who fall in love with a "foreign" sport and try hard to learn from afar, but nothing but disdain for idiots who feel the need to try to get a cheap laugh by exposing their ignorance of the sport that the rest of world loves. Dislike it, find it boring, I take no issue with that, although I disagree. But bitch about the fact that for once someone is talking about something a bit less provincial than who will get the wild card in the American League West? That's what I do take issue with.

    What's the world going to do when the Americans' play reflects their passion? Well, I think the rest of the world already recognises their quality. I can't help but imagine that the rest of the world will say, welcome to the party, and what took you so long?

    Wow, that post covered the waterfront, no? Sorry all...I presume no one will read, so can wax poetic! ;-)
  • [cite]Posted By: Swisdom[/cite]I'll never forget going to a couple of Toronto Raptors games and was confused when it suddenly all stopped for a "break on the floor"

    I couldn't work out if it was a timeout or injury to a player. I was promptly told it was a televised game and this was an ad break.

    Couldn't agree more. I love basketball, and played it at a relatively high level, but the NBA is nothing more than a spectacle. Real sports don't permit piped in music and prompts for fans to clap their hands, and certainly not while the ball is in play. Used to go to the Raptors, but no more, save freebie tickets!
  • My post was a little OTT I admit, but not too much - I live in Alberta, a far more inward looking, redneck populated part of the continent than say the Greater Toronto Area or Chicago.

    The reaction of many here to the great game is incredible & usually along the lines of boring, diving, pansies etc etc etc, the whole event has been begrudgingly covered by our woeful local media.

    I can't really complain because I chose to live in this most beautiful place, but 4 weeks of listening to the drivel that those with absolutely no idea come out with has tipped me over the edge ;-)
  • Can-Addick,

    Thanks for the measured response. I should have just bit my tongue. Doyle's work annoys me, but he obviously has an audience (even if not here).

    The thing about this last month is that some folks took out old screeds, dusted them off, and played their "I hate soccer" diatribes; but my experience was one of going to bars on K Street every morning, drifting to huge public gatherings in front of massive tv screens, and talking about the sport with people I would never have expected to have an interest. As cheesy as it is,this montage, made by a kid in Indiana, is a pretty damn fine rebuke to the traditional narrative in this country.

    On sports here generally, the passion of Cubs supporters is shared fairly consistently throughout the country by a large number of fan bases (witness Cleveland at the moment). With the exception of college athletics, people do not cheer for laundry, although that has become a nice tagline (again, witness Cleveland).

    Doyle's point about the exceptionalism of River Plate is actually empirically wrong -- unless it is limited only to the existence of a school in a stadium (our schools are in steel mills) -- and club teams (whether at the highest profession levels or in our "minor" leagues) continue, as they always have, to play central roles in communities.
  • good read this lads.
  • Anyway its called football, FACT, NAILED ON, END OF!!
  • Oakster and CA, I thank you both for your own well-thought and measured responses...rest assured that I thought long and hard about my responses to each of you, and am happy that they were received in the spirit in which they were meant.

    Oakster, glad you made the comments about Alberta, and not me! My wife's family is from Olds and Banff, and we'd be quick to agree, but would never say such things unprompted! ;-) That said, your home is about as beautiful as places come.

    CA, I hear you and thanks for your comments too. The only thing is that I have a hard time accepting that the passion of Cubs fans is anywhere near universal across the country with other clubs, but every team has it's dyed-in-the-wool proper fans. (By the way, I think I mentioned previously that my wife is a Potomac native, and her sister is a Terp. She, wisely, came to Canada to get educated! ;-) )

    At the end of the day, Doyle is a columnist, and therefore a "pot-stirrer". He'd be first to admit, and if you ever find his Guardian columns and have a read through the comments posted by readers, you'll see that you're hardly alone!
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