And yet, somehow, we are the ones who are out of step. Worse than that, we're "xenophobic." According to one thesis, in the 1950s soccer in the U.S. was "the passion of immigrant Germans and Italians still trying to shake off the label of bad guys. . . . It wasn't a sport of the elites, as were tennis and golf." This completely ignores the fact that masses of Italians and Germans had already been playing baseball, basketball, and football generations before World War II or that the so-called "elite" sports of golf and tennis were in fact imported here from Europe. Putting all that aside, one might ask why Europeans who reject American sports aren't equally guilty of xenophobia. (Of course, Europeans don't reject American sports, which have grown enormously in both television popularity and participation in several Western European countries, but the soccer nerds never seem to acknowledge this; it's always America that is wrong because we're not enough like somebody else.)
But now, the strategy for pushing soccer on us has curiously switched from "Get with the rest of the world's program" to "Let's stomp the crap out of these little foreigners who think they can lord it over the U.S." Or, as Clint Mathis, the most obnoxious American athlete since Mark Spitz, phrased it, "Americans are sort of greedy peoplewe are pretty much the lead country in everything." So that's the reason I'm supposed to love soccer now? Screw thatlet the South Koreas and the Cameroons have their little moments of glory. Myself, I have two favorite teams: the Yankees and whoever is playing the U.S.A. in soccer.