This is America, We Play Everything
Brian Basner lives in South Jersey, which he insists is a separate state regardless of what any map has to say. His main obsessions in life are Doopin’ with the U, travel, and caffeine. He is a teacher of Social Studies (to kids who loved it so much the first time that they’re doing it again), Special Education, and English Language Learners.
He went on a little twitter rant yesterday and turned it into this longer rant about how soccer is received here in the United States. Enjoy.
Shortly after watching the Manchester Derby on ESPN earlier this afternoon, I was left with a deep sense of anger and disappointment. Partly because I was hoping to watch Manchester City crash and burn, but mostly because of an article posted on deadspin.com shortly afterwards. The post details a sampling of the twitterings of people who, shall we say, were less than thrilled that soccer was interrupting their normal ESPN schedule.
Several of those precious, priceless tweets contend that soccer isn’t a real American sport and shouldn’t be on ESPN. “How often do they have to talk about this Manchester game? It’s soccer, this is America. Please stop @ESPN.” and “ESPN, honestly, why are showing a soccer game that’s being played in Manchester, England? 1) This is America and 2) We don’t like soccer.” are two good examples.
They’re right. This is America, and ESPN should only show American sports. That means no ice hockey (since it’s actually Dutch and Canadian in origin), no baseball (actually British), no basketball (the inventor, James Naismith, was Canadian), no football (an American adaptation of a British sport, rugby), and no golf (Scottish).
But hang on… if you look at ESPN’s main site, all of those sports are right up at the top. If we’re going to stick to only real, American sports, that pretty well limits the options for programming to Lacrosse, Ultimate Frisbee, and Volleyball. These are sports that are normally relegated to ESPN 8 (“the ocho”).
I understand that not everyone likes soccer. It happens; no single game can appeal to everyone on the planet. But shouting over and over again via Twitter at ESPN that soccer isn’t a real, American sport doesn’t make it true. The sport has been here in the US for well over a century and is enjoying a renaissance. In a country that was founded and built on incorporating so many different traditions and cultures, soccer is one of the most American sports we have. Just because a sport isn’t originally American doesn’t make it less of a sport.
This is America. We play soccer. And everything else, too.
-Brian Basner (@solardrum)
P.S. I appreciate differences of opinion, but please be nice about it. Thank you.
(Editor’s Note: In reading the Deadspin article I found it disturbing how many people called soccer gay. I hear people say it all the time and I think it’s something we need to get rid of. Outsports had a piece about soccer being called gay that it might be worth your time to read. Here at the Union Dues we’re “Soccer Allies” with Gay4Soccer and we believe in equality for all people in our sport and in life.)