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Soccer's Popularity

Just because something is popular doesn't mean it doesn't suck.


1.It appeals to collectivism. Most of the world has collectivist governments, and many people throughout the world seek to group themselves based on nationality and race. Hence, once the "World" Cup comes around, jackbooted fans seek to wrap themselves around the flag. Thus, we see soccer's popularity in collectivist Europe and unpopular in North America. Soccer is the world's most popular "sport?" First, soccer is not a sport, it is an activity. Second, who cares? Twenty years ago, communism was the most popular form of government. The Nazis received a plurality of the vote in 1933. And they all were wrong. Is the rationale for being a soccer fan due to what some other idiot opines?

2. It is a cheap activity to undertake. This appeals to the lesser-developed nations that play soccer, viz., most of them. To play a game of football, you need at least 22 sets of pads and helmets, as well as a football. To play a game of hockey, you need at least 12 sets of sticks and skates and hockey equipment. These are all expensive propositions. To play a game of basketball, you need a net in addition to a ball. But note that due to basketball being  less financially demanding, it has risen in popularity throughout the world. For soccer, you need a ball among 20-something participants. Note that the cost per participant is extremely low.    

Note that soccer fields are extremely large. This indicates that real estate is dirt-cheap where soccer is played. In more advanced countries, a phenomenon known as indoor soccer has arrived. While much less boring to watch or participate in than the traditional crap, it also indicates that property is more precious due to economic development of that culture.   

Also, as one can see in the truly impoverished areas of the world, you can make a soccer ball out of various scraps of trash, and kick it around with bare feet.  One observes slum children in Brazil living in trash heaps forming round objects from the debris strewn around their front yard. Most of the world can't afford to play real sports, so they participate in soccer instead.


3. The dreadfully slow pace of soccer appeals to the dimwitted. One observes data indicating that protein consumption per capita is highest in North America. Protein consumption is necessary for the healthy development of young minds. Soccer barely registers in terms of popularity in North America. For further proof, let us note that over 42% of Nobel Laureates are from North America. Note that since 1920 (when sports in general became popular), over half all Nobel Laureates have come from North America. Because the large amount of protein deficiency that occurs throughout the world, a large proportion of the world's population are dimwitted.

4. As with stagnant pace of soccer, the lack of suspense  in soccer also appeals to the dimwitted. The goal in many sports is simple - cross a goal line or base, put something in a basket or net. With sports, there is a progression when such a goal is achieved as two opposing forces compete - paralleling in some ways the drama of a story. In football, a drive progresses down the field, until one side is victorious in battle and either stops the drive or completes it with a score - the suspense usually builds as the drive progresses down the field. In basketball, the drama builds as the team penetrates and kicks out. In hockey, the drama builds as a defense can't recover from a mistake in their own zone. In baseball, the suspense builds with every new runner on base. In soccer, what suspense is there? None, because scoring chances are infinitesimal. Every pitch in baseball offers a chance at a run, but the probabilities of a hit happens over a quarter of the time - so one cannot safely discount this. In football, every play offers the possibility of scoring. And while a small number of plays are scoring plays, they contribute to scoring drives. And the probability of this happening is probably around 40%. In hockey and basketball, every shot offers a scoring chance. In basketball, the probability is above 40%, while in hockey it is just under 10%. And while hockey's probabilities are lower, the speed of the game lends itself to the suspense of whether a scoring attempt will be successful. Soccer offers boredom. The probabilities of scoring in soccer on any given kick are remote, which perhaps explains the feigned apoplexy involved with that annoying broadcaster screams "goal." What are the probabilities of a soccer participant scoring on any given possession? They are remote enough where you can safely discount it. Why else do we see so many 0-0 ties?

5. Soccer appeals to Joe Sixpack, since soccer doesn't require athletic talent or advanced motor skills. Soccer appeals to the average and to the below average. Thus, it has an instant constituency for its popularity. Too weak or slow to play football? Participate in soccer. Too short or slow to play basketball? Participate in soccer. Lack the hand-eye coordination necessary to hit a baseball or the agility to stickhandle thru traffic? Participate in soccer. Lack basic motor skills? Participate in soccer.

6. Soccer appeals to the downtrodden, whose only hope in life is to win the lottery - a random event. Soccer is a random, arbitrary activity; this provides its appeal. Consider the nature of a "shootout" in soccer. Unlike hockey, where a goaltender has a chance on most shots, the spectacle of the "shootout" in soccer is nothing more than the simplest flipping of a coin. The goalie guesses one way and leaps in that direction, simply guessing where the shooter will shoot. I propose that instead of the current method of "shootout," we create a more exciting method. First, arm the goalie and the shooter with a six-shooter, with one chamber filled with a bullet. The referee ensures randomness by spinning the chamber. A random coin toss determines who shoots first. The team whose participant is lucky enough to pull the trigger when his pistol's chamber is not empty - they win, providing that the opponent is killed. It actually requires more skill, since the human target is much smaller than the soccer net. It also has the added benefit of appealing to the soccer fan's bloodlust.

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