Virginia Bianco-Mathis
University professor, author

Virginia Bianco-Mathis

Business department chair of management programs at Marymount University and author of two books on executive coaching.


Our own sports

Soccer unites the world?

Not from what I have seen. The fans are nationalistic jingoists who revel in taunting other countries' teams, brawling and insulting each other.

The U.S. is "slow to embrace" soccer because the rest of the world resents us enough already. We don't need any more irrational hatred spewed at us, so we wisely have developed our own football and other American sports like baseball and basketball.

Further, soccer is much more boring to watch than any other sport except golf, which redeems itself with beautiful vistas and the spectacle of grown men being slowly driven insane.

The U.S. is "slow to embrace" soccer because the rest of the world resents us enough already. We don't need any more irrational hatred spewed at us, so we wisely have developed our own football and other American sports like baseball and basketball.

Further, soccer is much more boring to watch than any other sport except golf, which redeems itself with beautiful vistas and the spectacle of grown men being slowly driven insane.

By Virginia Bianco-Mathis  |  July 15, 2010; 12:07 PM ET  | Category:  Success and sports Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Soccer? For sissies! | Next: A generational rift


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How about a little research from the professor? Or forethought from the executive coach? Or recognition for female athletes, like our World Cup Champion women's team?

To shift the subject a bit, one of the best things about the growth of soccer in the US is the grass roots opportunities it provides at the YOUTH level to combat the effects of American overcompetitiveness in sports. I've played high school football and lacrosse, college lacrosse, and high school soccer back when we didn't know the game well at all in the sixties. It wasn't until I started coaching youth soccer six years ago that I was met with pressure to teach sportsmanship, respect, and life skills as more important values than the game itself. It's an uphill battle, for sure, and there are plenty of bad soccer coaches at the youth level who berate and belittle their players and opponents. There is also plenty of unsportsmanlike behavior dispolayed in the World Cup. But for every jerk out there on the pitch, there's also a coach or player who buys into the positive side of the game, and the balance and momentum is changing in favor of respectful sportsmanship more every year. I've never seen that in another sport. Not like it's happening in soccer. Visit the web site for the Poitive Coaching Alliance, my league's source of coaching inspiration. If today's youth players truly embrace this concept when they reach the elite levels and shape America's world soccer persona, they might not hate us so much.

Posted by: citizen91 | July 20, 2010 5:01 AM
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Ms. Bianco-Mathis:

A college football game lasts about 3.5 hours. There are 60 minutes on the clock. Each play averages 8 seconds. The ball is actually in play about 11 minutes. So, advertisers have lots and lots of time to peddle their wares during football, especially when the zebras consult the rewind and play button to determine if there was a blade of green grass between Larry's left foot and the sideline.

Soccer allows no such magic. In two hours, it's over. Sometimes, if the ref gives out few cards, it's over in 1:50. So, U.S. advertisers don't get excited.

By the way, Dr. Naismith, born in Ontario, Canada, developed basketball so the YMCA guys could have a sport to play in the winter, not because he didn't want irrational hatred spewed at us.
As for football, while Britannia doesn't rule the waves, our football came from rugby, not because we didn't want irrational hatred spewed at us.
As for baseball, let's ask Mets pitcher Johan Santana: "What does your president Hugo Chavez spew at us?

Posted by: EliPeyton | July 19, 2010 11:45 PM
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I have had bologna sandwiches with more insight into ANYTHING than this momo.

Posted by: Mighty7 | July 19, 2010 11:18 PM
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This author obviously does not understand the beauty of this game and why it ignites such passion!

Posted by: fmmt | July 19, 2010 6:06 PM
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Author and University professor? This article is remarkable in its emptiness and poor excuse for supporting reasons. Next topic? Quality of education in America.

Posted by: Nobrun | July 19, 2010 5:55 PM
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Fellow Americans and Washington Post Readers,

It's fair to ask once or twice about the state of American soccer (and yes, the term 'soccer' IS NOT INCORRECT!). But, ask it every single time the subject of soccer comes up!? Boo on you! You're raining on the parade of millions of soccer lovers in the US. From my point of view, there is nothing wrong with the state of soccer in the US. Millions of Americans love the game enough to play it, watch it, or talk about it. This is an indication of what is RIGHT about soccer in America. Yes! Let us re-phrase the question from, 'What is wrong?' to, 'What is RIGHT?' And, there is plenty of right with the American game. Soccer is played in the US at every age level and level of competition. That's good! The tens of thousands of fans who watched the old NASL loved the game enough to buy tickets. I was one of them. This young American actually got to watch Pele (I think with the NY Cosmos at the time) play the Memphis Rogues at the Liberty Bowl. That was awesome! With MLS, the figure (I think) should be well into the hundreds of thousands if not over a million.

Further, the United States fielded one of the 16 BEST teams in the world. That's GOOD! Sure, I would like to have beaten Ghana. We should re-double our efforts and win next time. ABC did an outstanding job of televising the games in the US (with help from ESPN). MILLIONS of Americans awoke early in the morning to watch games which (I guess) beats the poor showing by NBC's Olympics coverage.

The US put on one of the very best at the time World Cup finals in '94. I understand we are in the running to put it on again in 2018. What's wrong with that? Nothing! It's good!

It's not wrong that many more Americans watch baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. It's good! It's the way we are!It's also good that so many Americans enjoy soccer. Zillions of foriegners love playing or watching basketball, baseball and hockey. That's good, too!

The state of the game in the US is good! And, yes, the US will win the finals some day. We're on the right track already.

Most respectfully,

Posted by: jethro302 | July 19, 2010 5:35 PM
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Edmuund108, take it easy pal, you don't want to pop a vein or something, if you don't like soccer, don't watch it, as simple as that.

Now, calm down and enjoy life, don't be a grinch.

Posted by: eaglestrk01 | July 19, 2010 3:34 PM
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Wow, this comment couldn't be more condescending or poorly supported. What could be more jingoistic than to say we won't embrace a sport invented elsewhere?

Futbol is a beautiful sport if you understand it, and like many sports, it's more enjoyable to watch in person. I recommend that she go to an MLS match and see what it's all about. As a counterpoint, try watching American football in person. There's about twenty minutes of action spread over a 3-hour period. That's not a judgment--that's fact. It needs the replays to fill the time between plays in order to keep the fans' attention.

The writer obviously didn't venture to a pub to watch any of the World Cup matches. If she had, she would have seen Americans who don't follow soccer on a regular basis come together to watch the US matches. And how does she explain away the Cup final having the highest-ever TV ratings in the US of any futbol match when the US team wasn't even in the final? Are there that many ex-pats from the Netherlands and Spain here?

She ignores how Americans have responded over the years to the Olympics. Americans turn into "fans [who] are nationalistic jingoists" and wrap themselves in the flag, and then ignore most of the sports until the next cycle. Granted, the fervor has died down a bit since the Cold War ended (the 1980 USA men's hockey game versus the Soviets being the high point of it), but that national pride is still there every time.

Finally, if she'd talked with futbol fans from other countries, I think she'd find that most want the US to improve so that they are more competitive on the field. Most fans want to watch a good match AND win; they don't want to watch a boring blow out.

Posted by: ncshootsnscores | July 19, 2010 2:27 PM
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I was a bit amused by this piece. Folks who don't like soccer can always watch other sports!
If you don't like a sport, please ignore it and move on. Don't have to be snobbish in criticizing it.
Did the author know that the US Women's team has won the Soccer World Cup twice? It would have been a matter of great pride for any other country, as we have true world champions in our midst!
NFL, MLB and NBA are sports that are played and contested in the US alone, well NBA and MLB have a Canadian team each!! But, whoever wins the championship touts itself as "World Champion" What a joke! Perhaps ignorance is bliss!

Posted by: Grateful_American | July 19, 2010 1:49 PM
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Must be a slow news day! Americans don't care about soccer just like we don't care about books about executive coaching. How about this question - why does the rest of the world not like football, you know, real football, not that boring, 90 minute yawn-fest that appears on TV every four years? Enough of those idiotic buffoons in their little cleats running around with their arms up after scoring the only goal of the game. Things I'd rather do than watch soccer: read a book on executive coaching, read a Sally Jenkins article, and finally, stomach another one of your posts.

Posted by: edmuund108 | July 19, 2010 1:27 PM
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What a vapid commentary. What competitive sport does not involve taunting from fans? Some basketball or football players are mercilessly jeered by opposing fans. Also the argument that soccer is slow to develop that other nations resent us is simplistic at best and just plain moronic. What an egocentric piece.

Posted by: jabreal00 | July 19, 2010 12:46 PM
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"The U.S. is 'slow to embrace' soccer because the rest of the world resents us enough already. We don't need any more irrational hatred spewed at us, so we wisely have developed our own football and other American sports like baseball and basketball."

Where did you get your facts? Taking just one of your "American" sports, James Naismith (a Canadian by birth) was asked by a local YMCA to create an indoor game that wouldn't be too rough. I'm sure, though, that the spread of the game had vast government involvement because we were at risk of alienating other nations with our nascent soccer dominance.

You know, it's okay to admit that you don't know enough about a topic to contribute to the discussion.

Posted by: hbc1 | July 19, 2010 12:26 PM
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Wow, what a wonderful troll ! Please, do continue, Mrs. Virginia Bianco-Mathis, so we may be further amused!

That said, I salute you for being one of the worst, most blissfully ignorant, arrogant and provocative troll I've seen this year. With just a little more effort, I'm sure you can reach the Godwin Point easily!

Come on, you can do it, aim for the Godwin Point!

Posted by: HououjiFuu | July 19, 2010 12:26 PM
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This is one of the lamest comments on the topic I have ever read. Next!

Posted by: wxdancer | July 19, 2010 12:21 PM
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I know that when I'm looking for an insightful viewpoint on the various historic, socioeconomic and nationalistic reasons as to why soccer isn't as popular in the U.S. as in other countries, the first person I seek out is a professor of management of a suburban college. I don't want to hear from a former professional player, or perhaps a coach who has worked in MLS and in the EPL, or maybe even a sports marketing expert who works on branding campaigns for Nike - I want the person who can offer me a hard-hitting, quantifiable statement such as "soccer is much more boring to watch than any other sport except golf."

Posted by: telecomic | July 19, 2010 12:09 PM
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Boring! This from The Department Chair of Management Programs and author of two books on executive coaching - enough said.

Posted by: smudge51 | July 19, 2010 12:07 PM
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Professor, did you really come up with this article?, it is simplistic, its lack of depth really makes it more of a political correctness propaganda than thought-provoking.

If taunting, brawling and insulting each other offends you, I suggest not to watch neither soccer, football nor basketball. Maybe golf (really boring) or watching how the grass grows. That seems to be more appealing to your rossy/plain vanilla view of reality.


Posted by: eaglestrk01 | July 19, 2010 12:02 PM
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agreed. this seems like a very uninformed response. I would think that an author would at least do some research or write about a subject in which she has some previous experience. Soccer is a fluid game with subtleties that the author most likely doesn't understand, and therefore cannot appreciate.

As the US improves, we will see more media coverage, more advertising and higher TV ratings, which will result in more exposure and most likely more popularity...

Posted by: src22 | July 19, 2010 12:00 PM
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A remarkable post and not worthy of a detailed response from those who know more about soccer/futbol and, indeed, sports world wide it seems. This suggests America and American sport is NOT jingoistic or nationalistic ("We don't need any more irrational hatred spewed at us ....")--PPPLEASE! 'Nuf said.

Posted by: lovinliberty | July 19, 2010 11:38 AM
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