With the World Cup on TV, people are talking once again about soccer as the “sport of the future.” Atlantic Wire links to Chuck Klosterman’s soccer takedown in his 2004 book Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs. Most children don’t love soccer, Klosterman writes. “They simply hate the alternatives more.”
For 60 percent of the adolescents in any fourth-grade classroom, sports are a humiliation waiting to happen. These are the kids who play baseball and strike out four times a game. These are the kids afraid to get fouled in basketball, because it only means they’re now required to shoot two free throws, which equates to two air balls.
. . . That is why soccer seems like such a respite from all that mortification; it’s the one aerobic activity where nothingness is expected. Even at the highest levels, every soccer match seems to end 1-0 or 2-1. A normal eleven-year-old can play an entire season without placing toe to sphere and nobody would even notice, assuming he or she does a proper job of running about and avoiding major collisions.
. . . To say you love soccer is to say you believe in enforced equality more than you believe in the value of competition and the capacity of the human spirit.
Soccer has a right to exist, Klosterman concedes. All he asks is to never see it on TV or played in public or supported by public funding — plus a 40,000-year ban on the phrase “Soccer is the sport of the future.”
I raised the only child in Palo Alto never to play soccer. Allison said there was too much running involved. I knew it involved me getting up early on Saturday morning. We agreed to skip the whole thing.
I don’t think sports humiliation is a big issue for girls, who are less likely to be forced to play a sport they don’t like. Is it a problem for boys?