I’m not sure when it happened, but the term "soccer mom" seems to have gained a place in the American vernacular and it does seem that a fair number of suburban kids are playing the game. This has led some people to claim that soccer will eventually be extremely popular in this country.
As I’ve stated before in this here blog, I no longer watch a lot of sports. However, I did watch enough in my time to come up with a theory (who am I kidding, I’m a fountain of crackpot theories) that explains why these people are probably wrong about soccer ever catching up to the big three…baseball, football and basketball.
My theory is simple (hey, if you want complicated I’m sure there must be a physicist with a blog somewhere) and it goes like this:
As far as the typical American sports fan is concerned, the quicker the pace of the game the higher the score should be and conversely the slower the pace of the game the lower the score should be.
The problem with soccer is that although it has a lot of fast paced, back and forth action with the players running around like the energizer bunny on a caffeine binge, the score is always very low. I’m talking single digit low…2 to 1 or 1 to 0 are typical scores after 90 minutes of play!
It’s the same story with hockey, where the pace is even faster, not to mention the teeth shattering brawls. I’ve tried watching once or twice before and I was certain I was going to pull an eye muscle trying to keep up with the action. If it wasn’t for the puck occasionally (and I do mean occasionally) winding up in the net, I’d swear these guy are just swiping at thin air.
Still awake? Good…basketball on the other hand has a lot of the same type of quick paced, back and forth action as well as a lot of jumping up and down by men who are only slightly shorter than your average oak tree. But, and this is a big but, it’s not unusual for one or both teams to score 80, 90, or more points. That’s the kind of points to pace ratio that sits well with the American sports fan.
Now, compared to the sports previously mentioned, baseball is played at a pace comparable only to a tortoise with a bad ankle sprain (assuming they have ankles), but according to my theory that’s ok because the scores are relatively low. Yes, I know that every so often a team will go crazy and score 20 runs, but even the highest scoring baseball game doesn’t come close to the point totals in basketball.
"Where does football fit into all this?" I hear you ask…assuming of course anyone has actually read this far. Well…it’s sort of in the middle, with a slower pace and lower scores than basketball, but a quicker pace and higher scores than baseball, it fits my theory perfectly…hence, it’s popularity here in the states.
"What about rugby, Australian Rules football and cricket?" To be honest I’ve never watched any of those sports and don’t know a thing about them, so I guess it’s possible that any one of them could poke a big hole in my theory and then it’s back to the old drawing board. Damn you and your probing questions!
One final personal observation about soccer…I was watching a match on TV and every once in awhile the entire crowd would start to sing in unison. I’m not talking about some simple chant like USA…USA, I’m talking an actual song without any musical accompaniment and with the precision of a well rehearsed choir. I don’t know how they all know when to start, but to tell you the truth…I found it a little creepy.