JENKINS: Enough of this futbol, let's get back to football

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

Today the World Cup comes to a merciful end, after weeks of hype and force-fed coverage. It's as if the national media has been putting on a full-court press (that's just an analogy; nothing as exciting as a full-court press actually happens in soccer) trying to get Americans to care.

I'm happy to report that we still don't. Oh, sure, there was some curiosity as long as Team USA was still alive. But after the Americans took their traditional powder, the degree of interest in the event amounted to a collective national yawn.

Look, I have a lot of respect for soccer players. They're some of the best athletes in the world, aside from American football, basketball, and baseball players. But soccer will never be wildly popular in this country, no matter how often we're called Neanderthals and lectured on the beauty of the sport.

That's because nothing much happens in soccer. Americans like to watch sports where something is happening all the time, like basketball and football, or at least where there is the possibility of something happening, such as an eight-car pile-up and potential mass death.

But soccer is a bunch of guys kicking a ball back and forth to each other for 90 minutes. It's less exciting than the kill-the-man-with-the-ball marathons we used to have in elementary school.

I mean, imagine a football game in which the ball is handed off to the running back time after time, but he never gets past the line of scrimmage. Or in which a pass is never completed. Who would watch it? OK, fans of last year's UGA squad, maybe, but who else?

Americans also like games in which people actually score, which I suppose is why "The Bachelorette" is so popular. But in soccer, even after 90 minutes of kicking the ball around, chances are neither team will have chalked up a single goal. That's about as interesting as Barbara Walters interviewing Al Gore.

Scoring in soccer is so rare, in fact, that when someone does put the ball in the net everyone dances around for 10 minutes and acts as though the earth has just been saved from certain destruction. In the time it takes a soccer announcer just to say the word "goal," the Lakers can go on an 8-0 run.

Finally, while American sports fans can be pretty obnoxious, they usually have a good reason, such as the fact that they hate your team and you along with it. But soccer fans enjoy being annoying just for the sake of being annoying. (Case in point: vuvuzela.)

So please don't e-mail to tell me what a Philistine I am and how sophisticated you have to be to enjoy soccer. I know who you American soccer fans are: by and large, you're the same people who thought Obama was going to fix the economy.

Rob Jenkins is associate professor of English and director of The Writers Institute at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.