Almost everyone’s got a sport they dislike. Some people can’t stand tennis, others don’t like football. Hockey’s too fast, golf’s too slow. And some incredibly popular sports outside of the U.S., like cricket, are as well understood as trigonometry to most Americans.

Soccer is something of an exception. As a country, we’ve historically been unimpressed. We’ve even reserved its more internationally recognized name, “football,” for our own game, which barely involves feet. But it’s made an impact on young Americans—evident in the “soccer mom” appellation—and inevitably, it is gaining in popularity here. After all, soccer’s the most popular sport in the world.

However, according to right-wing talk radio, it’s un-American.

Fox News entertainer and part-time thriller novelist Glenn Beck took a long walk to lump together the World Cup with President Barack Obama. “It doesn’t matter how you try to sell it to us, it doesn’t matter how many celebrities you get, it doesn’t matter how many bars open early, it doesn’t matter how many beer commercials they run,” said Beck. “We don’t want the World Cup, we don’t like the World Cup, we don’t like soccer, we want nothing to do with it.” He then got to his point, and added, “The rest of the world likes Barack Obama’s policies, we do not.”

On G. Gordon Liddy’s show (when did he get a show?), his guest, the oh-so-charming Dan Gainor of the conservative thinktank Media Research Center, stated that soccer, a “poor man or poor women’s sport” (take that Christiano Ronaldo, David Beckham and Kaka!) is being sold as part of the “browning of America.”

So that’s it, is it?

It’s not hard to draw a line from conservative opposition to soccer and their ongoing narrative about “taking back America.” You know, before we played soccer. Or before illegal immigration? Or before racial integration?

Where does that line end, exactly? Maybe Glenn Beck can chalk that out for me.

It wouldn’t be so suspicious if the language weren’t so vitriolic and focused on a simple game. You may not like soccer or its values (because all-American steroid-infested baseball’s full of values), and that’s fine, but to frame the argument to imply that you don’t like the game because the people who play it may resemble the guy who took your manufacturing job is something else entirely.

The language that they’re using, by the way, is the same language conservatives hauled out for health care reform or the stimulus package. Mark Belling, a.k.a. the guy that fills in for Rush Limbaugh, said “they’re force-feeding it down our throats.” Beck said “I hate it so much, probably because the rest of the world likes it so much … and they continually try to jam it down our throat.”

Soccer fans are also portrayed as dangerous extremists, like “liberals.” Soccer fans are “the most likely to riot,” according to Beck, and he hasn’t seen any “baseball riots.”

While a very vehement minority seems to be selling the public on soccer equals liberalism and that baseball equals conservative America, it seems they have little to say about promoting the development of baseball in China. The MLB is investing millions into the development of baseball in China. Our all-American sport is already wildly popular in neighboring Japan.

Maybe that falls under the heading of “spreading freedom?” I wonder what the reaction will be when Shanghai is in the World Series. Would really do something for the validity of the pennant’s title, wouldn’t it?

19 Responses

  1. Dean

    Racial undertones???? Beck said NOTHING about race and related everything to his short attention span not race. At what time in the clip did Liddy say “the browning of America”?
    I played soccer for 10 years growing up and absolutely loved the game. At my high school I was the only senior to play soccer and the first letterman at my school in the sport. America does not want soccer, they have a love affair with football and basketball.
    Stop your drivel about everyone making racist comments. Your argument is weak just like your article above.

    • Patrick Slevin

      The article states Liddy’s guest, Dan Gainor, says it’s part of the “browning of America”. It’s at the end of the clip. Liddy isn’t exonerated, however, stating that soccer’s origins are in South American barbaristic practices of kicking around the heads of their slain enemies.

  2. KturnP

    Wow…the far right hates soccer because they are racist? Oh, right that is the same reason the far right hates the presidents policy. OMG, you people really need to be schooled in what is and isn’t racism.

  3. Christopher

    RIt’s racist to dislike soccer? This is rich. So then are Nigerians racist because they don’t play American football? Racism works both ways.

  4. Gill Meyer

    The reason that America does not like Football… is because it cannot win at it. Yes, they will beat some minor teams or major teams at inconsequently moments. By and large, the US will always be a third rate team and hence will not, for the most part, like football!

  5. JT

    For most people in America, soccer is straight up boring. Not to mention the stupid horn blowing. Personally I can’t stand soccer, but don’t deny those who do. Just don’t understand the appeal. If that makes me racist (but then again what doesn’t according to the slimey liberal media) then so be it. Soccer SUCKS.

  6. Mike

    Man, I had heard some real idiots spouting about how much they liked Glenn Beck, but I had never heard him myself. I didn’t realize there could be a commentator even dumber and more of a jerk that Bill O’Reilly!

  7. Chuck Long

    So you found one comment from one guy on a fringe radio show (Liddy’s) and you have concluded that “Conservative Talk Radio” AS A WHOLE doesn’t like soccer because they are racist. Are you an unpaid intern or does The Aquarian actually cut you a check for this airing of strawman arguments, logical fallacies and wingnut hate fantasies passed off as substantive analysis?

  8. V

    Beck magically knows what all Americans like and everything and anything that’s happening right now is Obama’s policies.

  9. Lioness

    A lot of you people didn’t read the article at all, did you? He said that it’s FINE to not like soccer because it’s just not your thing- everyone’s entitled to their opinion. Maybe you find it boring- and that’s fine. But Liddy and Gainor especially are arguing that America should not involve itself in soccer because it’s a “poor man’s game”, and a brown man’s one (by inference). I mean, c’mon. Talk about reaching. Liddy’s got his information wrong, for one- soccer originated in England, and remains wildly popular there. Last I checked, it wasn’t a poor nation. Whether you believe they were being racist or not, you gotta admit that they are feeding isolationism for the US, which does no one any good. It’s one thing to not like soccer because it just doesn’t appeal to you- it’s another to suggest that it shouldn’t be played here because the rest of the world loves it. The sooner these guys go back under whatever rock they crawled out of, the better.

  10. jan

    I’m very conservative, limited government type of person, and I LOVE SOCCER. I find it is very much like military tactics, how to cover space, when to attack, when to sit back, finding your opponents weakness, and a good bit of unpredictability just like in regular life. Soccer (football) might have had ancient roots in china or Mexico.South America, but the modern version was fully developed by the very conservative English and only played there for many decades before it moved elsewhere. Soccer is the most conservative of big sports, even refusing to use modern technology and are very careful with rule changes. In Italy the conservative prime minister Berlusconi even owns the most decorated club in the world, Milan. I don’t understand why my fellow Conservatives spew so much disdain on Soccer. Soccer is an English sport, and its an apolitical sport. Most soccer lovers also like Footbal and basketball by the way. You don’t have to like one or dislike the other.

  11. Andreas

    I am a conservative as well. I have met Glen Beck, he seemed like a nice guy, but he thinks I’m a lunatic since I (like 52% of America) believes Obama is hiding something about his birth, and he thinks I’m a liberal because I like soccer. By the way, I know plenty of liberals that hate soccer and love baseball.

  12. Claire

    No baseball riots? Really? How about June 4, 1974 in Cleavland? Or July 12, 1979 in Chicago? And that’s just Major League games turned up with a quick google search. I like soccer, it’s quick to play with your friends, fun to watch, and a great way to chat up cute guys in foreign bars.

  13. Scott Dehn

    First, I am a right wing conservative. I am also a soccer referee. The simple fact is sports are changing.

    Maybe Beck and Co.–
    –can’t handle a game with so few written Rules that gives the referee complete powerm to interpret and enforce them.

    –Are upset that the Japanese, Taiwanese, and Koreans are probably better at baseball

    –equally upset that the Italian and Spanish can fill a basketball arena better than the NBA

    –like sports, like the NFL, that have sterilzed the game, taking the fun out.

    –only watched soccer matches that have Martin Tyler doing the game, and find him as boring as I do.

    Oh, and by the way, Mr. Liddy, soccer referees wear all black because when the game was starting out in England, the “arbitor” was usually the local parish priest.

  14. Bill Jenkins

    Face the facts. Many Americans think soccer sucks.

    Trying to equate the constant mocking of an unpopular sport with racism is a stretch. Quite frankly, this is just plain ridiculous.

    Mark Belling constantly sings the praises of various basketball teams/players and is an avid fan of his local team the Milwaukee Bucks. He also is a huge Packers and Brewers fan.

    He makes fun of NASCAR as well as soccer.

    Oh noes! He must be against rednecks too!


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