Ah, yes, it’s that time. At four tomorrow afternoon the Americans get up to bat against Belgium in the knockout stage of the World Cup. Many millions of us will be watching this either at home, at work or in a gin mill, the latter being the place to be. But not all people are happy that some estimated 25 million, perhaps more, tuned in to watch a soccer match between the United States and Portugal. They seem in a panic that so many of us like that sport.
Conservative pundit Ann Coulter writing about the number of people who watched put the word “Americans” in quotes indicating that these weren’t real Americans. Coulter, ever prepared to make outrageous statements to attract attention, wrote of them that none had a great-grandfather who was born in the US.
She may be right. I watched it. My great-grandfather was born in Ireland. I fail to see how that disqualifies me as an American.
Perhaps Coulter is thinking of resurrecting the American Party, also known as the Know Nothings which was basically an anti-immigrant and especially anti-Roman Catholic group of bigots. Coulter might have suggested most of those watching the World Cup were papists and made her point that way.
As a parting shot she said: “One can only hope that, in addition to learning English, these new Americans will drop their soccer fetish with time.“ Early on in her article she said: “Any growing interest in soccer can only be a sign of the nation’s moral decay.” It seems to me a true salient sign of that decay is a person like Coulter with her hope of going back to the mid-19th century xenophobic days.
Coulter writes to have a high shock value and get attention. She threw in all her zings at the liberals which pleases her type audience. She included the words: “soccer moms – liberal moms – Hillary Clinton – New York Times – foreign – French – European – “ Her shtick is so obvious we shouldn’t take her serious but just be amused at the pap she feeds her followers. She’s cried “the sky is falling” so often most basically ignore her.
But it is not only those who appeal to our most base instincts that are parading out their disdain for soccer, there are people like the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy who took the time to write a column telling us: “I am guilt-free. This is America. Land of choice. Land of freedom. I choose to ignore the World Cup on television. I wondered with his “This is America” whether he was joining with Coulter to suggest those who enjoy soccer are somehow not true Americans.
If they don’t like it why write about it. Is it they are so bothered that they don’t enjoy what so many other people enjoy they must knock it and tear it down. Ironically Shaughnessy spent a whole column telling us he’s going to ignore it on television. If he’s going to ignore it why not do it completely and not write about it.
Their articles were quite similar as if one was copying the other’s test paper. They did their best to tell us why it is a lousy sport. They threw out the old bugaboo of low scoring.
I wondered if they attended a baseball game where a pitcher was throwing a no-hitter and left in the 8th inning because it was boring; or whether at the seventh inning stretch they’d find a pitchers’ duel with the score tied 0 – 0 a reason not to like baseball. They must know that a 1 – 0 baseball game is much more exciting than at 122 to 108 basketball game or a 46 to 27 football game.
They also complain that the game is played without anyone (except the goal keeper) touching the ball. They suggest how important hands are to a game. But do they realize that the games they extol are played without the feet for the most part. It seems it takes more skill and artistry to control a ball with the feet than with hands.
A professor reading their articles would suspect plagiarism. Here’s Coulter on hands: “What sets man apart from the lesser beasts, besides a soul, is that we have opposable thumbs. Our hands can hold things.” Here’s Shaughnessy: “Hands and opposable thumbs separate us from creatures of the wild.” When did monkeys and prosimians become higher beasts or come in from the wild?
And how about this: Coulter: “the Times is constantly hectoring Americans to love soccer;” Shaughnessy: “please do not insist that we must love your game.” Coulter: “Soccer is like the metric system, which liberals also adore;” Shaunessy: “American schoolchildren were taught the metric system.”
Reading them you’d think the barbarians are at our gates because some Americans like a sport the rest of the world likes. They write about this soccer infiltrating America as if it was the ebola virus. If Americans or even “Americans” are starting to get more involved in it why are they so upset about it. They can do what they want. They should afford us the same courtesy to us.
But I’ll tell you one thing, Tuesday afternoon they’ll be quite lonely.