Monday, June 16, 2014

American Soccer Players Don't Fake Injuries or Exaggerate Contact as Much as Others

I posted a few soccer tweets the other day, joking about how I was waiting for the Angels game to come on (although I didn't go so far as to say soccer wasn't an American sport --- I used to enjoy playing soccer as a kid).

I later got a kick when I saw Althouse hilarious dissing the soccer sensationalism over the World Cup. See, "Why I'm not clicking on Google doodles for a while." And the comments are a riot:
Finally Althouse gets something right. One of the few remaining reasons to be proud of being an American is that we are the only people who realize that soccer is shit. It's the only sport that bans the use of the hands, and using our hands is what makes us human. Thus, by definition, soccer is a game for sub-humans, and, boy, do the fans show it. To be fair to them, though, the games themselves are so boring that the only way to stay awake is to start a riot or a war, or at least turn to the guy next to you and head-butt his face in.
In any case, I guess we're not so great at the sport's cheating culture either. At the New York Times, "On Soccer: Where Dishonesty Is Best Policy, U.S. Soccer Falls Short":
NATAL, Brazil — The list of improvements that the United States men’s soccer team needs to make is considerable. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann would like to see a more consistent back line, better touch from his midfielders and plenty more production from the attackers.  
Yet as Klinsmann and his players begin their World Cup here Monday against Ghana, trickier questions of soccer acumen have come into focus:

Are the Americans bad at playacting? And if so, should they try to get better?

The first part seems easy enough. For better or worse, gamesmanship and embellishment — or, depending on your sensibilities, cheating — are part of high-level soccer. Players exaggerate contact. They amplify the mundane. They turn niggling knocks into something closer to grim death.

They do all this to force the referee to make decisions, with the hope that if he is confronted by imagined bloodshed often enough, he will ultimately determine he has seen some. Applying this sort of pressure on the official is a skill that, by their own admission, United States players generally perform poorly, if they perform it at all...