Monday, July 7, 2014

4 comments Dan Shaughnessy Doesn't Like Soccer, I'm Not Sure Anybody Cares What He Likes

Deadspin has noted that Dan Shaughnessy has written this same "I don't like soccer" column for 25 years now. I guess it's good that he is consistent and it's not surprising to see that Dan's writing hasn't changed dramatically over the past 25 years. It's not like he was a shining wordsmith in the first place, so the fact he uses the same phrases and copies himself isn't too surprising. Craig Calcaterra has some really good thoughts about a general sports columnist and whether he/she has a place in today's sports media. I would agree with him that only the most unique of sports voices could be a general columnist. Sports information is so fragmented that a writer who doesn't go in-depth on any one topic, but just covers the bases of a variety of topics, better be a unique voice or else risks losing the readers who is more informed on the topic.

These are all good thoughts, but I'm focused on the terribleness of what Dan is writing. I don't think anybody cares if Dan Shaughnessy doesn't like soccer. This is another blatant example of a sports columnist writing a column about himself as the subject. I'm sorry Dan Shaughnessy doesn't like soccer but his thoughts are only an opinion and don't merit another airing simply so the contrarians in the world can nod along. Who cares what Dan likes? He needs to write about sports and not himself as the topic of a column. That's hard to do when so many sportswriters have become so enamored with their own points of view that they believe their point of view has additional merit and should be heard immediately.

The United States will play Portugal at 6 p.m. Sunday in World Cup action. The whole world will be watching. All of the US will be watching.

And it was a great match. A person doesn't have to like soccer to appreciate watching the United States and Portugal play. I would think a person who covers sports for a living could manage to watch this match without holding his nose up in the air, but apparently not.

Start a Tom Werner, “Let’s Go, USA!’’ chant if you can. I’ll be content to read John Powers’s very fine account of the match in Monday’s Globe.

Fantastic, Dan. Nobody gives a shit if you like soccer or not. Please just dislike soccer in silence so it doesn't seem like you are shitting on the sport in order to gain attention. Why is it impossible to read John Power's very fine account of the match without doing so in silence without attempting to gain attention for yourself and your contrarian view?

I know where this takes some folks.

Because Dan has written this exact same column 3-4 times before. That's how he knows where this takes some folks. I wouldn't be bragging about this.

If you don’t like soccer the Futbol Moonies will insist that you are an aging, unhip, xenophobic, uncultured dolt. Soccer is the world’s most popular game. It’s the game of the future. Anyone who doesn’t embrace soccer is simply ignorant, close-minded, or unable to grasp the concept that there is a whole wide world outside of Route 128.

No, if you wave your hands around and try to gain attention for yourself because you don't like soccer, and have done this on multiple occasions, than you are an asshole who needs a hobby. There are a lot of sports I don't like and simply mentioning 1-2 times in passing when the subject comes up that I don't like the sport is sufficient. There's no need to make a big production out of not enjoying a sport unless the point is to make your not liking soccer about you, which of course is what Dan is doing.

My esteemed colleague, Bob Ryan, this past week said that anyone who doesn’t get into the World Cup is not a true sports fan.

There are hot soccer takes flying from everywhere in the Boston area these days aren't there? Bob Ryan is wrong about this too. A person can be a true sports fan and not get into the World Cup. Bob Ryan isn't in to using modern methods of evaluating baseball players, does that make him not a true sports fan?

Sorry. I am done apologizing for not loving soccer.

No one is asking you to apologize for not loving soccer. There have been requests for you to apologize for your hair and face that gets beet-red as you talk though.

Land of choice. Land of freedom. I choose to ignore the World Cup on television. Please don’t hate me.

Nobody will hate you. Nobody will care until you start making a big deal out of not liking soccer.

Those of us who don’t love soccer still love America. We love our USA team.

You just don't love them enough to watch them play and instead choose to brag about not liking watching them play.

We understand the beauty and simplicity of soccer. We agree that it is the world’s most popular sport. It’s a sport that represents democracy and meritocracy. It’s the perfect game for children. The big kids don’t dominate. Everybody is in motion. It’s not complicated. It doesn’t require much equipment or organization.

Well, to play soccer properly it probably takes 12 or more people in total to play, so there is some organization that is involved.

It is a great source of national pride and it’s impossible not to get caught up in the passion and good feelings.

Notice how Dan says "it's impossible not to get caught up in the passion and good feelings," then writes this entire article about he has not gotten caught up in the passion and good feelings.

Just don’t make me watch the matches.

There is literally no one I know of who is forcing Dan to watch the matches. No one would know Dan doesn't watch the matches if he wasn't so concerned with informing as many people as possible that he is not going to be watching the matches.

The problems are obvious and have been stated a million times. Soccer doesn’t have much scoring.

It's the tension of whether a team will score, along with one goal having a large impact on the game that makes hockey so popular. There's not much scoring, but the opportunities teams have to score during a match are important. Therein lies the drama and the excitement of the sport.

Soccer doesn’t have natural progression leading up to scores.

You mean like in baseball where the score could be 0-0 for five innings and then a player hits a home run? Or do you mean like in hockey when neither team could have an advantage for most of the game in terms of time of possession and then one goalie will accidentally let an easy shot by him?

There are not many natural stoppages in play that allow time for conversations, commercials (this is why soccer is tough to televise), or trips to the restroom.

"Soccer is a terrible sport to watch because it's constant excitement and doesn't leave any time for a 20 minute conversation about what a disappointing team the Red Sox are."

You know what, if the sport doesn't have much scoring and no natural progression then feel free to go take a piss whenever you want. Nothing is going to happen while you are gone, right?

And let’s not even start on the corrupt officiating or the nefarious “stoppage time.’’

Oh yes, corrupt officiating is a problem in soccer. It's not like the NBA would ever have that problem or anything. That's true, NBA officials are not necessarily corrupt, but just widely incompetent at times.

Soccer takes away our hands. This makes the game incredibly skillful and exhausting, but also robs fans of much of the beauty of sport. Hands and opposable thumbs separate us from creatures of the wild.

The ability to make deductions, form emotions and attachments, as well as use our brain to write sports columns also separate us from many of the creatures of the wild. And yet, Dan doesn't seem to be taking advantage of his advanced brain to write a good sports column. Also, the argument that soccer isn't fun to watch because players don't use their hands and hands are the source of much of the beauty of sport is sort of silly. Watching a soccer player kick the ball with his feet can be a beautiful thing to watch as well.

How would we have even known the athletic greatness of Pedro Martinez, Larry Bird, Bobby Orr or Tom Brady if they could not have used their hands?

Considering the sport they played all required the use of their hands, the answer here seems pretty transparent to me. Obviously the athletic greatness of these athletes would not have been known if they didn't use their hands, because their hands are required for greatness in their sport. Hands aren't required in soccer.

Soccer lovers tend to be an elitist, intolerant lot. They look down on those who will truly never “get” their game. They scoff at the mere mention of “soccer’’ when the whole rest of the world knows it as “football.’’

I don't find that people who love soccer are elitist. They are probably elitist to Dan Shaughnessy because he goes out of his way to point out how much he doesn't like the sport of soccer. I'm sure that can make a person become elitist. It all depends on how you approach a person who likes soccer and start discussing the sport. Discuss it derisively, then you will get an intolerant response.

I have friends around the world. 

These are probably friends who come from the United States originally. These friends all used to live in Massachusetts, but left the country rather than have to see Dan Shaughnessy on a consistent basis.  Like Chandler on "Friends" who left to go to Yemen so he could get away from Janice, Dan's friends probably had their job "transfer" to another country in order to get away from him.

For a couple of decades my home was home to dozens of international students, all of whom loved soccer.

I'm not sure the point of this. Is Dan trying to prove he has been around people who like soccer, so he's not just being obstinate in liking the sport? It's like people who say they aren't racist because they have (insert exact number here) black friends. Otherwise, if Dan is trying to prove he respects the sport then it's clear this isn't true. He bashes the sport and then states he doesn't watch the matches. 

There would be no point in pounding my fist on the counter and demanding that folks from those regions love and embrace baseball because it is such a great game. I ask soccer folks for the same courtesy. Enjoy your game. Celebrate your game. But please do not insist that we must love your game.

Then stop insisting about how much you hate their game. If Dan doesn't want a strong, irrational reaction to not enjoying the sport of soccer then he should try not having a strong, irrational opinion he loves to share with everyone about the sport. An extreme opinion will beget an opposing extreme opinion.

Millions of kids in our country have been playing soccer for more than 40 years. This has not translated into an adult population of folks who’ll pay to watch professional soccer games.

My impression is that soccer, while not as popular in the United States as other countries, is still becoming more popular in the United States. I feel like the sport is growing in popularity. I don't think soccer will ever be as popular as football, but there is an adult population who will pay to watch professional soccer games and currently do pay to watch professional soccer games.

Millions of kids also play hopscotch, kickball, and lacrosse. It doesn’t mean those games can become mainstream American professional spectator sports.

That's a great comparison because hopscotch and kickball are routinely played by adults and not just children. The fact Dan is comparing soccer to hopscotch pretty much shows he is only trolling for a response to this column. Dan makes the column about his own personal thoughts about soccer and tries to have as hot of a sports take as possible in order to gain attention for his point of view.

Fifty years ago American schoolchildren were taught the metric system and told that one day we would be calculating all of our vital stats in meters and liters. No more inches, feet, yards, and pounds.

It never happened. We are still 6 feet 1 inch and weigh 200 pounds. And a lot of us still reject soccer as a mainstream professional spectator sport.

I can't imagine why soccer people would become elitist around Dan. It's a mystery to me.

World Cup fever is all around us and it’s great. I hope the USA beats Portugal Sunday. I hope Jozy’s hammy recovers for the next round (US forward Jozy Altidore pulled a hamstring against Ghana last Monday). I hope we advance out of the “Group of Death” and somehow win the World Cup for the first time.

I like how Dan disassociates himself from soccer for all of the reasons he has listed above and then starts in with the "we" stuff to keep one foot on the bandwagon in order to write a column about how great the US Men's Soccer Team is should they pull out a miracle. Undoubtedly the column would be full of Dan saying how much he doesn't like soccer, but this men's team is just so different, dammit!

But when the World Cup is over, soccer will be over for most of us. We will go back to football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. And we will not feel guilty about it.

But it's not because the sport sucks, is boring, there are too many turnovers or will never be popular in the United States. It's a function of time. I only have so much time to watch sports, so sports that I would ordinarily like take a backseat. I don't have the time I want to watch hockey and soccer, so I don't follow those sports as closely as I do other sports until a major event in that sport occurs. There is a difference in not having the time to follow soccer and not following soccer because you don't like it as a sport. Dan tries to confuse the two when they are two separate reasons for not watching the sport.

Dan's pathetic troll job is complete. Sure, he re-wrote the same article he has written 3-4 times previously, but the attention he got for his strong take was well worth it.


HH said...

There's a line in The Office that goes "I don't think Michael's ever done drugs. I don't think anyone's ever offered him any."

I borrow that to say this: "I don't think anyone has ever tried to get Dan into soccer. I don't think anyone's ever wanted to talk to him about anything."

Bengoodfella said...

HH, haha. That's good. I noticed that he had posted another anti-soccer column recently as well. He's really pushing this "soccer sucks" thing. I'm not sure why he can't just ignore the World Cup if he hates it so much. It's not like he works in an area of the country without other sports teams he could discuss.

franc said...

soccer fans aren't elitist, but are protective, just like every other person who is emotionally invested into something. i love his totally original remarks about low scoring and shoddy officiating though. when you see a result like 5-3 or 7-1, that is probably not a very interesting game to watch. it's either poor play by one or both teams.
but seriously, isn't there a much better argument against soccer? i love the sport, but the amount of money changing hands in soccer is simply ludicrous. some clubs are richer than countries. mid-tier players today can fetch a transfer price unattainable to stars just a few years ago. arabian sheiks and russian oligarchs are consolidating political power through soccer by buying bankrupted clubs for nothing and frankly, there have been too many fixing scandals in top-tier leagues over the past few years.
rant ended.

Bengoodfella said...

Franc, Dan would have to pay attention to soccer and know enough about it to make that criticism. He thinks he knows about the sport, but of course he couldn't make that argument against soccer.