Is Soccer Boring?

By Lloyd Graff

All hail soccer, the great American sport, as we cheer and lament the U.S. futbol team that competed valiantly in the World Cup in Brazil. After the tournament, many of our best players will return to their respective European pro teams, and we will once again become indifferent to the boring “minor” league soccer (MLS) played in our country.

The MLS has been piddling along now for 18 years, following other incarnations of the world’s favorite sport in the U.S. Now it is reformulating itself once again, with some of the richest guys in the world buying into what they see as a virgin market opportunity–a chance to appeal to the millions of middle class kids running all over the “pitch,” only to ignore the game once they reach their twenties.

Can it play in Paducah? Will Americans ever buy into professional football (soccer) like they do in England, Argentina and Mexico?

I think it really is possible. Some people theorize that the utter ineptitude of the MLS folk to generate an audience is really a brilliant conspiracy by several NFL team owners to sabotage the league and safeguard the value of their National Football League properties. It may sound a bit far-fetched to bamboozle soccer as a defensive move, but the explosive growth in the value of an NFL franchise over the last 18 years coinciding with the boring product of the MLS makes the theory at least worthy of mention.

It is possible that with American kids’ participation in American football and baseball both on the wane, those super wealthy people pushing the rebranding of soccer here are finally going to strike a chord with the American public. American football is struggling with litigation and the devouring of its best players by injury. I think the game has peaked both in participation and popularity. Baseball is importing much of its talent from the Caribbean and Asia. This is also not a recipe for long term American fan support.

The National Hockey League, a truly international league, has found new life spurred by suburban hockey rinks and HDTV that finally makes the game television worthy. The NBA is also an example of a successful world league with its Champion San Antonio Spurs. The polyglot group of guys from Argentina to Mars is an archetype for world peace. But basketball still has its heart in the city playgrounds and backyard backboards throughout America.

Sports do go up and down in popularity. Could anybody have predicted the popularity of Mixed Martial Arts 10 years ago?

In my opinion, it is too early to say whether football (soccer) can actually take off as a spectator sport here. But I do think that this time around, some serious foreign money is really going to try to change our taste. If Americans can learn to love sushi and make the avocado the equivalent of the apple in today’s kitchen, we can adopt the world’s favorite sport.

The National Football League should be worried.

Question 1: Is the NFL too brutal?

Question 2: Is soccer boring?


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17 thoughts on “Is Soccer Boring?

  1. Norm VanSpronsen

    I got in trouble (a C for the course) when I told this joke in a Spanish class. I delivered it in flawless Spanish, but the professor was from Spain.

    “What’s the difference between football and soccer?
    In American football only the players get injured. In European soccer the fans get killed.”

    1. Kim

      That reminds me of back in my school days a classmate wanted to write a research paper about how watching soccer was a dangerous sport. The teacher thought it was crazy and that there wouldn’t be enough material for that– but oh was she wrong.

  2. Ray Frattone

    I think the NFL is rough and tough but brutal is a little harsh. This is a free country and the players are all grown men who volunteer to play a game for a monumental paycheck.

    As for soccer, if the countries that you mention had Pro Football, Major League Baseball and the NBA, I believe after several years, soccer would end up in about the same popularity ranking that it now has in the USA.

  3. Seth Emerson

    Along with the Referees.

    So, if the USA had won the World Cup, would the rest of the world have to call it Soccer?
    (Not mine – heard on facebook- funny though)

  4. Martin

    over 250 million people playing soccer in the world
    over 200 countries soccer is played
    the question of “is soccer boring” NO MATE learn the game, when you understand things they are not boring.

  5. Brent Mackintosh

    I happen to enjoy soccer and have been to a few MLS games in Columbus and a couple of Dayton Dutch Lions games (minor league professional). Soccer might not ever be as big as it is in Europe but that’s okay as more immigrants come into the country, the sport will grow. I am always perplexed on how many Americans get so worked up over how boring soccer might be. When I don’t like a particular sport, I merely don’t watch or play it. I have seen people actually have bumper stickers proclaiming the boring nature of soccer. Personally, I have more important things to fixate upon.

  6. Chuck

    “American” football is definitely NOT on the decline. Come down South Lloyd and let me take you to a SEC college football game! You’ll never watch soccer again. The fanatics of the college football game in the south is just a half-step below that of European soccer fans, at least I haven’t killed a rival fan yet, but have came bloody near close.

  7. Art Santana

    It is only boring when you do not understand it. It is the same with the NFL, the NBA and MLB. Can you imagine watching baseball for the first time and it happens to be Clayton Kershaw throwing his no hitter or one hitter? Boring indeed. Or watching Alabama and LSU in one of their famous 7 to 6 contests? Are they also boring? I do not think so. MLS has come a long way; if your ignorance or apathy of the league makes you think they are irrelevant; you are not paying attention. Have you seen the crowds they are getting in Seattle, Salt lake, Kansas City, San Jose and the Canadian teams? After this world cup is over; the legacy of Futbol as the world sport will only get bigger. As for the other Football, as violent and fast as it has become; still a great thing to see too. as a sport fan, there is room for everyone. Love them all. Go Real, Go Jazz, Go Dodgers, Go BYU, Go Chargers!

  8. Red

    I hear all of this talk about soccer being boring but has anybody asked someone new to football what they think of that game. People I have met that don’t understand the game of football say they can’t make much sense out of whats going on and think it’s too hard to understand. Most people find things they don’understand to be boring, be it soccer or football.

  9. David

    Neither soccer nor hockey will ever be a big as football, baseball or basketball in this country for one simple reason: they are both defensive oriented sports. The goalee is the key figure and scoring is low. Americans want offensive action whether it be goals, runs or baskets or simply first downs or hits. If you allowed the centers in basketball to stay on either end, stand in the “paint” and block shots the whole game you’d have one heck of a borefest, i.e. hockey or soccer.

  10. Michael

    The question is what is more important here, sports or commercials ?
    Super bowl seems to be more about commercials than the game itself.
    Making money is unfortunately the most important topic in many sports in general.
    Maybe US is not yet ready to watch a 90 minute game without commercials on TV ?

  11. Kelly

    1. No
    2 Yes Tried watching some of the series got a couple of really good naps in.

  12. Eric

    The ridiculous thing about soccer is all of the fake injuries. The field is too big. Too much playing keep away. Not enough scoring. It’s 88 minutes of playing footsy with the ball and 2 minutes of exciting shots on goal.

  13. Michael

    Soccer is hardly boreing. It’s a game of chess with your opponent. Lot’s of strategy. American Football is a snoozefest if you ask me. Too much time in the huddle and little to no time of actual play. Out of 60 minutes the ball is actually in play on average 11 minutes.

    And the MLS is hardly the minor leagues. That might have been true 10 years ago but not today. MLS is drawing more and more attention. The league is set to expand again. And the TV rights are up for negotiation and all indications are that MLS will be charging nearly double this go around which will increase MLS revenue and make the league even more profitable.

  14. Ryan

    Soccer/futbol will never be a top sport in the U.S. The best athletes will always gravitate to America’s big 3 sports. An occasional great athlete will dedicate their passion to soccer, but a significant majority will always pick the others.


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