Over at Grantland, Bill Simmons argues that our reaction to Sunday’s match against Portugal (which ended in a draw after America surrendered a last-minute goal) says something about our lack of passion for the game:
People are making a big deal about soccer breaking through in America, thanks to the 2014 World Cup. It’s horseshit, because if this were true, our entire country would be traumatized right now.
… We outplayed them and we choked. We could be spending our Monday making Ronaldo jokes, watching YouTube clips of American sports bars reacting to our go-ahead goal, and wondering who would win a fight between Clint Dempsey and Liam Neeson. This sucks.
I get what Simmons is saying, but, in my humble opinion, this is a feature, not a bug.
When the Yankees and Red Sox are battling in the postseason — or the Redskins (there I said it!) are playing the Cowboys — watching is both obligatory and tense. Who needs that kind of pressure?
Conversely, these World Cup matches have felt more like a carefree vacation fling. We both know what this is; soccer doesn’t expect any sort of commitment from me, and I don’t expect anything from it — except for a few hours of summer fun.
And that’s just what I got on Sunday. It’s been glorious. So why should I feel guilty?
Look, I get it. After years of pushing the sport (it’s big internationally!), pundits are anxious for America to finally, fully commit to following soccer.
But maybe we could just date first?