anthropologist, not the actress.
A letter to Ann Coulter
August 7th, 2014
You and I don’t see eye to eye on many things (well, most things; probably 99% of things), but I want to take the opportunity to thank you for opening my eyes to the true nature of soccer. Now I should confess up front that I’m not an American (or even an ‘American’), so I know my opinion doesn’t count, but your recent columns (part 1 and part 2) spoke to me on a gut level. Actually, even lower – more like the bowel region.
I mean, what kind of ‘sport’ (a term I clearly use loosely) forces its viewers to watch 45 minutes of straight play (sometimes 50!) without a single ad break? How do we go to the washroom? How do we get snacks from the fridge? And just think of all the great ads we’re missing (after all, who actually watches the Super Bowl for the match?) To pass up a golden advertising opportunity is goddamn (sorry Ann, I mean gosh-darn) un-American. The great thing about American sports like basketball and ‘real’ football is that they know how to stretch out the viewing experience, with a <60-minute game padded to an impressive 2 or 3 hours.
As for your comments about real Americans liking real sports – too right, I say. In Australia, my country of birth, we also like manly games such as rugby union, rugby league, Aussie rules, and cricket (okay, maybe scrap that last one – but getting hit with a cricket ball hurts) and no one whose parents or grandparents were born in Australia watches soccer on a regular basis. Well, except maybe for people of Greek, Italian, Yugoslavian, Lebanese, Turkish, Dutch and German heritage. But we’re talking a mere 25% of the population. Thirty, tops.
And you’re quite right about the lack of real stars in football. How many Americans can name even one soccer star? Sure, everyone knows who David Beckham is, but that’s only because of the movie (and it wasn’t even American). Van Persie’s flying header against Spain might have looked impressive, but surely it takes more skill to just pick up the ball and lob it (okay, I’ll admit you lost me a bit on that point, but I recall that it involved opposable thumbs and souls and such). You called it, Ann: what exactly is the difference between 1) stopping the ball from entering the opponent’s goal and 2) nothing? I mean, Tim Howard would probably disagree with you, but he’s a goalie, so what would he know? The point is that being a real sports star requires dunking and bat-swinging and touch-downing and punching and stuff.
As you point out, soccer’s so easy even a girl can play it. And being one of the fairer sex myself, I can fully appreciate how lame that makes it. (Wait, am I supposed to love soccer because I’m a woman or hate it because it’s girly?) As you wittily observe, if we didn’t already have enough proof that soccer is a game for girls, Suarez biting the Italian player was the final nail in the coffin (or the nail polish on it, as it were – we girls do love to accessorize). I know that’s what we all thought when Mike Tyson took a chunk out of Evander Holyfield’s ear: “classic girly move”.
As you say, no one really wins in soccer. Okay, yes, lots of people have countered with phrases like “penalty shoot outs” and “sudden death” and the fact that one country does actually win the World Cup, but you were clearly speaking metaphorically. So thanks again, Ann, for telling it like it is. When I think of all the hours I wasted watching soccer before you showed me the light – hours that could have been spent watching ballet, shaving my legs and doing proper lady things – I can only wish you’d expressed your courageous opinions earlier.