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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Americans’ independent spirit evident as the world obsesses on soccer

Every four years planet earth pauses to observe an event that fascinates the world community (if there even is such a thing).

No, I’m not talking about the United States’ presidential election, though there’s no doubt how people from World Cup Soccereverywhere look on with curious captivation as the land of the free chooses its next most powerful person on earth. And it’s not the Olympics either, though the realm of international competition does have more than its share of dedicated fans.

In this case it’s the FIFA World Cup (of Soccer), which kicked off last week in Russia. Teams from 32 countries gathered in Vladimir Putin’s backyard to run continuously around a huge field trying to steer a round ball into a net without using their hands. To the world the occasion is a cause for hope every fourth year. To win the Cup can literally change a nation.

For some reason, however, soccer’s just never caught on here in America the way it has nearly everywhere else. Soccer is played on every continent and doesn’t require much more than an open field and a group of people willing to run and kick a single spherical ball that will hold air.

But not us Americanos. We buck the trend. Does this make us weird…or wise? Kyle Smith of National Review gave his shot at explaining why we’re better off without soccer, writing, “The United States of America did not qualify for the World Cup this year. Good for us. Soccer is corrupt, hyper-regulated, impoverished by a socialist-style fondness for rationing, and organized to strangle human flourishing. It is so dependent on the whims of referees that is in effect a helpless captive of the administrative state, and it’s so dull that it could get people killed.

“Soccer fans sometimes try to argue that it’s a good thing to have a sport built around the utter impoverishment of scoring, the Soviet-like externally imposed restrictions that prevent players and fans from filling their bellies with the nourishment of points on the board. World Cup enthusiasts praise the beauty and grace and athleticism of the athletes. But there’s a reason we watch gymnastics and figure-skating competitions only once every four years, if that: Twirling grace is not enough...

“It’s well-documented that soccer’s nominal superfans often get completely smashed before the game even starts and attack one another, sometimes resulting in death. This isn’t like the jubilation that sometimes gets out of hand after pent-up excitement is released by, say, a World Series win; the mere proximity of even a routine midseason soccer contest causes fans to go nuts. My guess is they know they’re going to be bored spitless by the game. So instead of watching it they resolve to do something more interesting instead: Start a fight.”

Smith’s view may be a bit of an exaggeration but the essence of his argument is correct. Soccer is simply inexplicable to the average American because most of the game is comprised of observing a gaggle of participants chasing and kicking the ball back-and-forth between two ends of a field followed repetitively by…more of the same. Referees hound the contestants and periodically hold out colored cards to signify…something. Sometimes players bump or steer the ball with their heads, too. Talk about the need for concussion protocols!

At least the strategy of (American) football is readily apparent after about a half hour of surveillance. When I first started dating my wife she wasn’t a football fan – but after going to a game she appreciated and enjoyed the atmosphere if not the contest itself. Can the same be said of fans and soccer?

There’s a reason why parents sign up their little kids to play soccer -- so the tikes can spend an hour or so running and expending every last bit of energy in pursuit of something nobody can readily define. By the time the game’s over everyone is so thoroughly bored and exasperated that they’re happy to head home with junior or missy in tow begging to take a nap. If there’s scoring at all it’s because one team has a kid or two clearly bigger and faster than the other did.

I’ll take my son’s little league games over this scenario any day.

Not only does the rest of the world fail to comprehend America’s disdain for soccer, they look down on us for our rejection of it. It’s yet another example of elitist condescension for the country that originally perfected the concept of liberty and self-rule. Every totalitarian society has soccer. Even Iran has it; ditto for North Korea. Saddam’s sons used to play. Enough said.

The world’s fascination with the dull mentality-taxing game of soccer could explain why it doesn’t grasp or appreciate President Donald Trump’s approach to governing. If American politics could be encapsulated into a sport Trump would be a combination of the high scoring game of basketball merged with the sheer speed and changing nature of ice hockey. Trump is like a contact and finesse sport occurring simultaneously; he sends forward shots and sometimes gets blocked but always follows up with the rebound.

The world’s lack of comprehension of Trump has led to what he believes are false impressions of his intentions, fanned by the media. Emma Ayers of the Washington Examiner reported, “President Trump fired back Friday evening against media reports that his relationship with various world leaders has soured.

“Trump specifically referenced photos that have been released of a meeting from the G-7 this past weekend. The photos show Trump seated at a table as multiple heads of state — including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — crowd around him in serious discussion.

“’The Fake News Media said that I did not get along with other Leaders at the #G7Summit in Canada,’ Trump tweeted, adding his own photos from the weekend. ‘They are once again, WRONG!’”

The tweets themselves aren’t much apart from what Trump normally offers whenever he’s negatively challenged on an aspect of his own unique take on the presidency. Pictures may be worth a thousand words but as everyone knows it’s easy to infer certain messages based on facial expressions in any given photo.

The images in question depicted Merkel in particular as upset with Trump, probably captured at a moment when serious subjects were being bandied about and perhaps disagreements were taking place. If anything, the pictures reveal a sympathetic human side to the assemblage of elite global politicians who all-too-often mug for the cameras and go out of their way to present an impression that they get-along swimmingly when in reality they can’t stand each other.

In a social setting Trump is as gregarious as the next person. One-on-one everyone loves Trump and people usually gush about his impeccable personal qualities. It’s only when Trump faces the media or (sometimes) with the Twitter button that he liberally tosses out bombs and invectives.

With this diverse group of people it’s almost impossible to tell what they’re thinking in a particular moment. As the author of the “Art of the Deal” Trump could be bluffing, sincere or feigning anger at any moment, all meant to express a point or advance a position.

Face it, if it weren’t so easy to pick out literally any photo and infer your own meaning on it then internet memes wouldn’t have become such a dominant part of our culture. If you don’t believe it do a Google search for “Joe Biden Memes” and see exactly how many humorous interpretations are available for the former vice president as he interacted with President Obama.

Essentially Trump is right – media comments in regards to the photos are ingenuine and “fake.” Charles Hurt remarked at the Washington Times, “In the picture, America’s Sitting Bull president looks straight ahead, past all the global glares. He is surrounded as if the subject of some kind of opioid addiction intervention.

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel — hands planted on the table between them — leans toward Mr. Trump, glowering intensely. Off to the side is Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — arms crossed, deep bags under his eyes from sleepless nights — staring off in drained frustration.

“To be fair, this picture does not depict the first time this century that American interests were at striking odds against those of Germany and Japan. But — lucky for Ms. Merkel and Mr. Abe — we Americans are a forgiving people. We moved on before and will move on again.”

A lot of people could have fun taking a stab at what each one of them was thinking at that instant. Language subleties, cultural divergences, difference in decorum, etc. could all be responsible for awkward international moments caught on film. These leaders have enormous pressure on them with home populations demanding they not give an inch on anything.

Just like with the rest of the world’s oversized importance attached to the World Cup, the United States has its own perspective. Globalists love soccer; Americans, not so much.

If anything, Trump is probably the most at ease at “summits” because he knows he has no one to please but the people who voted for him – and he ultimately wants what they want. As an “outsider” Trump doesn’t pay any mind to perpetuating the swamp, couldn’t care less about gratifying the party establishment and isn’t trying to maintain power in perpetuity. Trump’s running for reelection in 2020 and that’s it…no parliamentary elections in sight.

And who’s to say Trump doesn’t have a good rapport with his fellow G-7 leaders? Unless you were in that room the only opinions that count are the leaders’ themselves. And if they hate Trump they’re not revealing it. That wouldn’t be very wise, would it?

The same goes for last week’s get-together between Trump and NORK dictator Kim Jong-un. Practically every “expert” under the sun has weighed in as to who “won” or “lost” the exchange, but the ultimate arbiters seem to think Trump held his own and represented the country well.

Diana Stancy Correll of the Washington Examiner reported, “A majority of registered voters view President Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a success, a new poll says.

“According to a new Morning Consult/Politico poll, 54 percent of registered voters said the summit was successful. Meanwhile, 24 percent claimed it was unsuccessful.

“Among party lines, 79 percent of Republicans viewed the summit successfully, compared to 48 percent of independents and 38 percent of Democrats.”

The last figure is particularly important since those 38 percent of Democrats agreeing with something Trump’s done is an extremely positive number for a president who can’t seem to do anything right in the eyes of his political opposition. It should also be noted 55 percent of Americans don’t believe North Korea will completely denuclearize.

This means Trump can stop short of complete confiscation of little rocket man’s nukes and still be judged a success as long as American security is realized (such as by ridding North Korea of its missile delivery capacity). Many have pointed out Kim is unlikely to give up everything he’s squeezed his country so hard to achieve over the years – so there’s a bit of wiggle room there.

The issue will play out in the coming months and years and if Trump is correct we’ll know “soon” how serious Kim and his ilk are about backing down from their practice of threatening annihilation on their fellow countrymen (in South Korea) and every other western interest. China will most certainly play an important role too – it’s all part of the puzzle.

It doesn’t take a genius to surmise the different peoples of the world all have distinct interests. Just because most of the planet sees the World Cup as the preeminent sporting event of our times doesn’t mean we must follow along. Thankfully Donald Trump knows to value Americans’ opinions first.

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