I was lucky enough to attend the recent friendly match pitting Chelsea against Inter-Milan. I had a great time. I was able to see my favorite team without traveling on a plane for more than ten hours. While I enjoyed myself, most around me feigned interest and became anxious in the “uneventful” parts of the game. Shouts of “shoot the ball” came as forwards held the ball well outside the box. I became quite aware then that Soccer has an uphill battle to become one of the bigger sports in America.
Soccer like any sport can be painstaking at times. An ex-hater of soccer I understand why. There is too much nuance to witness. Fans of soccer get excited about a well executed pass or a well received ball. These are not things easily measured. American sports fans want to see results and they want them in number form.
People want to know that someone got a hit, or a sack, or ran for ten yards and got a first down. Soccer may just be too abstract a concept for some of us right now. We tend to ignore the finer, less obvious things in this country. We eat at restaurants and order meals without any thought of the preparation that went into it. This is what a good portion of the 90 minutes of a soccer match is, preparation. What European fans seem to enjoy and what may be lost on all of us is that sometimes the means can be just as enjoyable as the end.
ESPN can show highlight goals to entice viewers of SportsCenter. Eventually though, American fans will have to change the way they take their sports if they are to enjoy the beautiful game. We will be a better sports nation for it.