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Conservatives bring their D game to culture war whining about World Cup

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, June 27, 2014 8:02 EDT
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Can you correctly identify what this is? If so, you are too learned to read an Ann Coulter column.

World Cup is fucking exciting this year, isn’t it? It’s really hard not to blow off work to watch games, isn’t it? Almost enough to make you forget that enjoyment of soccer as a professional sport is still considered “culture war” silliness that is supposed to divide grouchy conservatives who automatically assume anything they don’t understand must be out to steal their testicles and liberals who pride themselves on their participation in the international community, isn’t it? Turns out, if you actually bother to watch the game, it’s just a really fun sport like any other, and it’s perfectly understandable why it’s so popular and seems to be getting more popular all the time.

Indeed, it’s so much fun and so obviously so that it seems that the usual suspects on the right can’t even be bothered to get a proper gripe on about it. Oh, they know they’re supposed to. Their paychecks depend on convincing a bunch of aging straight white men who think croissants and hollandaise sauce are terrifyingly exotic that their disinterest in soccer demonstrates that they alone see the truth that somehow escapes the entire rest of the world: That soccer sucks. Oh, the dudely America audiences doesn’t need to watch soccer to know it sucks. Indeed, they’ve heard that if you cast your eyes upon a soccer game, you fall under this evil magic spell, no doubt cast by a witch, and you start to actually like the game. So the only way to keep your knowledge that soccer sucks pure and untouched is to protect yourself with a thick wall of ignorance about what the fuck you’re talking about.

These people pay the paychecks of conservative pundits, and so conservative pundits are obliged to cough up the “fuck soccer” sentiments for the cameras, cash their checks, and then go watch their soccer games in the privacy of their own homes. But, dare I say, their hearts aren’t in it? I mean, it’s such an obvious and silly lie that soccer sucks that I’m starting to get the impression that the pundits are using their “fuck soccer” moment to mock their own audiences to their faces.

Yes, I’m talking about Ann Coulter, of course, who is clearly doing this. You can tell, because, at various times, she writes something so abjectly and hilariously false that the only people who could possibly be snookered by it are people who have never watched a soccer game in their entire lives. These sentences are there, I believe, as a subtle way to communicate to the smarter people in her audience this message: “Look at how much money these assholes pay me to lie to their face.” And we who have seen even one soccer game in our lives understand that this is performance art. Well, and a con job. But rarely have I seen a Coulter column where she made so obvious her disdain, perhaps outright hate, for her audience and how stupid they are to buy her act. It’s like writing an article about Apocalypse Now where you routinely reference the dance numbers, just to see who is dumb enough to keep nodding along.

Let us count the ways, along with Ann, that she is clearly fucking with us.

Individual achievement is not a big factor in soccer. In a real sport, players fumble passes, throw bricks and drop fly balls — all in front of a crowd. When baseball players strike out, they’re standing alone at the plate. But there’s also individual glory in home runs, touchdowns and slam-dunks.

You can only buy this line if you have no idea what the net at the end of the field is for, much less niceties like they have positions called “striker”. But in case reading is not your strong suit—a big problem with the Coulter audience—here is a helpful video of one athlete after another failing to have an individual moment of glory.

Indeed, the opposition to individual achievement is so thorough in soccer that you will never see anything as déclassé as a player celebrating these “goals”, much less allowing his fellows to congratulate him on his achievement.

There are no heroes, no losers, no accountability, and no child’s fragile self-esteem is bruised.There’s a reason perpetually alarmed women are called “soccer moms,” not “football moms.”

Throughout the piece, Coulter maintains the claim that soccer is a game played only by children. Considering that this column is pegged to the World Cup, it’s actually quite ballsy of her, since one of her readers might accidentally turn on ESPN looking for baseball and notice that those kids playing soccer are kind of tall and hairy.

 Liberal moms like soccer because it’s a sport in which athletic talent finds so little expression that girls can play with boys. No serious sport is co-ed, even at the kindergarten level.

I once tweeted something out, I don’t remember what, about European soccer culture where I complained, correctly, that it’s machismo culture is aggravating. It could have been any number of stories, as the soccer fandom is just as rife with dudebros as any other sport. That this is true should be screamingly obvious, but I was surprised to get a bunch of angry American men, mostly conservative, screaming about how soccer fans and players are all a bunch of girly men or whatever. It was a level of ignorance combined with self-assurance that was so utterly wrong-headed I couldn’t even be offended. I was just amazed. It was like someone saying that sometimes the noise in Manhattan can be a little much and being bombarded with people who are outraged—outraged—because they believe, in their hearts, that New York is a soft-spoken town where no one curses and they will never hear a word otherwise. It was surreal.

Anyway, that soccer is free of all macho bullshit is a thing that some American men believe. Men who apparently read Coulter’s column. Men who will believe anything.

No other “sport” ends in as many scoreless ties as soccer. This was an actual marquee sign by the freeway in Long Beach, California, about a World Cup game last week: “2nd period, 11 minutes left, score: 0:0.” Two hours later, another World Cup game was on the same screen: “1st period, 8 minutes left, score: 0:0.” If Michael Jackson had treated his chronic insomnia with a tape of Argentina vs. Brazil instead of Propofol, he’d still be alive, although bored.

This is the closest thing she says to a thing that someone who has seen the game at least once but maybe still doesn’t like it might say. These people seem not to notice that American football’s higher-scoring games rely on giving players 6 points a touchdown instead of one. It’s not like they made 6 separate touchdowns for those points, guys.

The prospect of either personal humiliation or major injury is required to count as a sport…. Baseball and basketball present a constant threat of personal disgrace. In hockey, there are three or four fights a game — and it’s not a stroll on beach to be on ice with a puck flying around at 100 miles per hour. After a football game, ambulances carry off the wounded. After a soccer game, every player gets a ribbon and a juice box.

Oh, professional players certainly get a lot of boxes and they are juicy….

Okay, I’m cutting myself off. Needless to say, she’s continuing to hold onto the claim that adult people don’t play soccer. That alone shows this column is a test to sort the terminally stupid in her audience from the merely idiotic. But this claim that soccer is an injury-free sport really demonstrates how much bullshit she can get her audience to swallow. As anyone who has seen even five seconds of World Cup coverage has seen some pretty bad injuries.

Alvaro Pereira got a concussion, kicking off a discussion about how FIFA needs to strengthen its rules banning concussed players from returning to play, which Pereira sadly did (and regretted).

American player Clint Dempsey got his nose broken during the Ghana game.

This Ecuadoran player was so eager to play despite his bleeding scalp he wore this crazy shit on his head:

I’d mention the danger that Luis Suarez would bite you, but seriously, that really shouldn’t be on the short list of injuries one can reasonably expect to incur.

You can’t use your hands in soccer. (Thus eliminating the danger of having to catch a fly ball.) What sets man apart from the lesser beasts, besides a soul, is that we have opposable thumbs.

Despite all her claims to love toughness and achievement, she’s suddenly down on challenge. Got it.

I resent the force-fed aspect of soccer. The same people trying to push soccer on Americans are the ones demanding that we love HBO’s “Girls,” light-rail, Beyonce and Hillary Clinton.

It’s very important to not try new things, because you might like them. And then there you are, liking them. Who likes things? Bad people, that’s who. Sit at home, draw the curtains, and, whatever you do, don’t ever think about trying something new.

It’s foreign.

The Americans don’t have a team, in Coulter’s world. Also, non-Americans are “foreign” to everyone else in the whole world. You may be, say, English, and have lived your whole life in England and rooted for English football teams, but you know in your heart of hearts, you are “foreign” and so is your team. You may think “foreign” is a relative concept, but it actually means “not American”.

 Soccer is like the metric system

In other words, superior and to be rejected out of hand, because reasons. Also, look at this. This is a thing that people do:

Ever get the feeling that some people realize that they’re never going to be LeBron James or Albert Einstein and so, in a lifelong temper tantrum, they just decide that if they can’t be the greatest, they will be the stinkiest of the shits? That is what is going on with this truck and with mindless soccer hate.

Despite being subjected to Chinese-style brainwashing in the public schools to use centimeters and Celsius, ask any American for the temperature, and he’ll say something like “70 degrees.”

Yes, we’re born that way. That must be it. (I was never taught Celsius, and that, instead of being born, as I was, a couples miles on one side of an American border instead of a couple miles on the other side of it, is the likely reason I don’t use it.)

Soccer is not “catching on.”

She’s not even trying. Or, if she’s trying, it’s more to see how stupid her audience actually is.

But I kind of have to give this one to Keith Ablow, who had the nuts to say that World Cup is only being propped up as a distraction from whatever nefarious BENGHAZI shit he thinks Americans should be thinking about 25 hours a day. In the space of less than a minute (giving him plenty of free time to go home to watch soccer), he managed to go even further than Coulter in testing his audience’s profound ignorance and stupidity. I mean, if you’re going to imply the Obama administration somehow concocted World Cup to “distract” people, why not argue that it’s being played on the moon? C’mon guys. Let’s see how far you can take this.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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