Opinion

The Ann Coulter soccer silliness continues

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Sports,United States,World Cup,Soccer,The Atlantic,Ann Coulter,Becket Adams

Ann Coulter said last week in a perfectly silly article that soccer is explicitly anti-American, prompting a collective eye-roll from just about everyone in the media.

And the fun doesn't end there: Peter Beinart at the Atlantic followed that up with a perfectly silly response, saying Coulter is not only correct in her many complaints against the sport, but she should also be worried.

Soccer, he writes, is gaining in popularity, fueled mostly by fans that look “a lot like the coalition that got Obama elected.”

Sure. Why not?

Coulter's original attempt to troll World Cup fans argued that soccer stands opposed to American exceptionalism in that it embraces collectivism and is effeminate.

“Individual achievement is not a big factor in soccer,” Coulter wrote. “... In soccer, the blame is dispersed and almost no one scores anyway. There are no heroes, no losers, no accountability, and no child's fragile self-esteem is bruised. There's a reason perpetually alarmed women are called 'soccer moms,' not 'football moms.' ”

She continued in that vein, complaining that soccer is too European and too popular with liberals for her taste.

She concludes by arguing that, contrary to recent headlines, soccer is not “catching on”: “The USA-Portugal game was the blockbuster match, garnering 18.2 million viewers on ESPN. This beat the second-most watched soccer game ever: The 1999 Women's World Cup final (USA vs. China) on ABC.”

In contrast, she notes, Sunday Night Football games pull in roughly 20 million views.

“If more 'Americans' are watching soccer today, it's only because of the demographic switch effected by Teddy Kennedy's 1965 immigration law,” she wrote. “I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer. One can only hope that, in addition to learning English, these new Americans will drop their soccer fetish with time.”

Ah, yes. Only immigrants care about soccer. Not to worry though: The sport will never catch on.

Well, maybe that may not be true.

“The willingness of growing numbers of Americans to embrace soccer bespeaks their willingness to imagine a different relationship with the world. Historically, conservative foreign policy has oscillated between isolationism and imperialism. America must either retreat from the world or master it. It cannot be one among equals, bound by the same rules as everyone else. Exceptionalists view sports the same way. Coulter likes football, baseball and basketball because America either plays them by itself, or — when other countries play against us — we dominate them. (In fact, most of the other countries that play baseball do so because they were once under U.S. occupation),” writes Beinart.

“Embracing soccer, by contrast, means embracing America's role as merely one nation among many, without special privileges. It's no coincidence that young Americans, in addition to liking soccer, also like the United Nations,” he adds, citing recent polling data.

He concludes: “Coulter would find this deeply un-American. But it’s a healthy response to a world that America is both less able to withdraw from, and less able to dominate, than it was in the past. In embracing soccer, Americans are learning to take something we neither invented nor control, and nonetheless make it our own. It’s a skill we’re going to need in the years to come.”

Of course, soccer's apparent popularity in the U.S., widely seen as being a recent phenomenon*, could be due to the fact that maybe — just maybe! — people think the sport is fun.

Nothing more, nothing less.

I mean, we could analyze it to death and conclude that the rise of soccer is either the death of the republic or the dawn of a new era or something.

Or we could just watch the damn game.

*The best performance by a U.S. World Cup team was a third-place finish in 1930, the first year the tournament was held.

Full disclosure: Soccer is probably the worst sport ever created.

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