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Opinion: Columnists

Conservatives shouldn't hate soccer just because Europeans like it

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Opinion,Sports,David Freddoso,Columnists,Conservatism,World Cup,Soccer

World Cup 2014 is upon us, which means you can count on two things: First, Team USA will lose to Ghana. (Oh, that didn't happen this time?) Second, some conservatives will argue that soccer is a socialist game and they want nothing to do with it.

Of course soccer is socialist. There are ... teams! They're ... Europeans! And the announcers even use the collective plural -- as in, “England are playing well today.” Which is just wrong.

But soccer reflects conservative values better than baseball or football -- two games I personally love and watch far more often than soccer. Here are four reasons why:

1. Soccer's rules are like the Constitution

Baseball's are like the tax code. The rules of soccer are short and simple. It takes FIFA just 9,000 words to describe them - 800 more than the U.S. Constitution with its amendments.

Compare that to Major League Baseball's 47,000-word rulebook (excluding the index, foreword, and summary of 2014 rule changes). The NFL rulebook, excluding extraneous material, contains more than 70,000 words. What, do you like football because you like Obamacare?

2. Soccer has fewer barriers to entry

Conservatives argue that regulations reduce competition. Well, the cost of regulation equipment for staging a serious baseball or football game is quite high.

In soccer, all you need are are shoes and shin-guards. The field preparations are easier – lines, two goals and four flags. No helmets, no pads, no dirt infields, no markers for every yard on the field, no outfield fences. Soccer fields can even vary in size to fit the space available – the perfect 100-yard square field and the rectangular 130-by-50 are both within official regulations. That makes the game more accessible, which makes pure talent more valuable.

3. Soccer is a strict meritocracy — almost

In soccer, only the goalkeeper gets a special status – he can touch the ball with his hands on a small part of the field. Everywhere else, he's just another player. And there is no offensive or defensive squad in soccer. To put it in football terms, every team plays “iron man.”

In contrast, the rules of both baseball and football make many class distinctions. American League pitchers can avoid batting. They stand on a mound above their peers. Football is much worse – even your jersey number may doom you to a life of drudgery in which you'll be penalized for touching the ball or moving downfield.

4. Soccer is less bureaucratic

George Will wrote that football epitomizes everything bad about America: “Violence punctuated by committee meetings.” Baseball is not violent, but even the most exciting games are 90 percent downtime.

In soccer, there is little downtime. No huddles, no stepping out of the box to read signals, no time-outs. Players have to read the situation and play on the fly.

Yeah, okay, but soccer is boring. Look, I'm not going to argue that you should start liking soccer if you don't already. There were 54 goals in the first 18 World Cup games this year – an average of 3 per game or one every 30 minutes. Baseball offered up about nine runs per game in 2013, but baseball games tend to run a lot longer than 90 minutes.

Anyway, no one watches baseball just to see people walk across the plate – the game would be insufferably boring if we couldn't appreciate the fielding, pitching, and strategy involved before every pitch.

Just give it a chance. Conservatives shouldn't scoff at soccer or call it “socialist” just because it's a game that Europeans love.

DAVID FREDDOSO, a Washington Examiner columnist, is the former Editorial Page Editor for the Examiner and the New York Times-bestselling author of "Spin Masters: How the Media Ignored the Real News and Helped Re-elect Barack Obama." He has also written two other books, "The Case Against Barack Obama" (2008) and "Gangster Government" (2011).

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