July 5th, 2014
10:35 PM ET

Why America's embrace of soccer is a good thing

Watch"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

Fareed speaks with Peter Beinart,associate professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York, about Ann Coulter’s suggestion that America’s growing interest in soccer is a sign of the nation's moral decay.

You say that people like Ann Coulter are worried about this and are distressed about it because it wears away at the fact that the United States has been a kind of country apart from essentially the entire rest of the world on this one issue, on this one sport.

Right. Ann Coulter basically believes that part of what makes America great is that America is fundamentally different from the rest of the world and she compares soccer to the metric system. If the rest of the world adopts it per se, it's a good thing if the United States stays apart from it.

And I think what you're seeing with soccer is that the willingness to embrace soccer and the willingness to allow America's new immigrants to remain soccer fans without that compromising their Americanism, reflects a shift in the United States.

We have a less nativist sports culture and we are more open, at least some groups in the United States – young people, immigrants, political liberals are more open to liking the same kinds of things that people in other countries do.Things don't have to be ours and ours alone.

And in a sense, part of what the attraction of soccer is is that you are sharing the sport with the rest of the world, sharing the enthusiasm, following something everybody in the world is following.

And I think this reflects a larger shift. I mean, it's really fascinating if you look at the Pew polling. For instance, young Americans are far less likely than older Americans to say that America's culture is superior or to say that America is the greatest country in the world.

Now Ann Coulter may see that as pessimism and defeatism and declinism, but I actually think what it reflects is a more cosmopolitan temperament, more of a recognition that America has things to learn from the rest of the world. And that, in fact, perhaps we have to learn from the rest of the world if we're going to remain a successful country.

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Topics: GPS Show • Sports

soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. JoeO

    Ann Coulter should be expelled from our country for her un-American ways, but soccer...boring!

    July 9, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
    • Rob

      Ann Coulter is right. Right on soccer and right on politics. Maybe YOU should be expelled.

      July 10, 2014 at 8:37 am |
      • Me Melvin

        Typical conservative response. "If you ain't the same as me, get the hell outta here."
        Such patience, such tolerance, such curiosity, such xenophobia, such a life wasted.

        July 14, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
    • JT

      You want a boring game... Baseball is boring!

      July 10, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
  2. Rob

    hmmm, too bad that America has NOT really embraced soccer (actually, that's a good thing). The fact is that in normal America (away from the places like New York, LA, Miami, etc), people don't care, they aren't watching it. Weren't really following it too much when the US was in. Sure, they would have liked us to win it, we all want to win whatever it is we are doing. But, in the end, we really don't care. Nobody at work talks about it. Even after the US lost the game. It's not on when you go in the bar (you would actually get shouted down if you turned it to watch a soccer game if there is a baseball or football game on (I know, it's not football season yet, but the point is that it wasn't even on the TV). Soccer will always remain a fringe game in America. We DON'T want to watch this boring sport like "the rest of the world.". Who cares what they like?

    July 10, 2014 at 8:36 am |
    • Eric

      Yeah, very little of that is actually true. You think you speak for more people than you really do. Plenty of people in "normal" America were watching as evidenced in bars and homes all across the country. And plenty of Americans love to watch and play the sport.

      Just because you think you are Group Spokesman doesn't actually mean you are.

      July 11, 2014 at 1:55 am |
    • Jeremy

      Rob has spoken. We can all go about our lives now knowing that Rob speaks for us and thinks for us. But be careful Rob. Ms. Coulter aspires to be our thinking cap and mouthpiece. You must tread carefully.

      July 13, 2014 at 10:50 pm |
  3. Jessy, Matt

    Don't think it makes any difference. International soccer will live on with or without America. In fact, it's better for America to start now to plan for 2018 than fighting the game they cannot win. We do not need helmet to play the game of soccer. If America wants helmet, they might as well continue with heir American Football.

    July 10, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
  4. Kenneth Newman

    Ann Coulter is so out-of-touch, that she might be forced to flee the country in a few years. The ONLY thing this woman needs is a st... between her legs...... and a gag on her mouth.

    July 10, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
  5. judy

    It's pretty silly to equate liking soccer with being a liberal. I am a missionary doctor in a 3rd world country, having been raised as a suburban American Christian kid. I've played soccer since I was 8. What does political bend have to do with liking a sport?? I also happen to be a huge Steelers fan, and Bulls fan based on where I've lived. Sports are games – hopefullly our nation is still intelligent enough to separate games from politics and real world decisions.

    July 11, 2014 at 7:56 am |
    • Cp454

      Does Ann Coulter even know where the term "Soccer Mom" originates? I grew up as part of a generation where more conservative mothers where hauling around vans full of soccer kids than anything else. I'm not insisting soccer will instantly capture the attention of this nation at this point, but to insinuate that soccer is somehow subversive to the culture in the United States is willfully obtuse to the point of downright cowardice.

      July 11, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
      • Me Melvin

        You are correct, sir! It may take another 10 years, but when all those "soccer kids" grow up "futbol" may well be an American passion. Never to replace football, mind you, but apppreciated for what most of the world calls: "The most beautiful game".

        July 14, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
  6. Me Melvin

    I see the American view of "futbol" as one of impatience. Unlike most other sports, "futbol" is a low scoring game. Primiarily due to the "offsides rule". It is very difficult to strike a gol. Americans want high scoring games.

    Americans don't seem to appreciate the strategies, tactics and finesse it takes in "futbol". And how exciting a 0-0 match or a 1-1 match can be. Further compounding Americans' confusion is the idea that a match may end in a tie. "Here in America there HAS to be a winner." Always! Life does not have to be a zero sum game.
    I could go on about the other superior athletic requirements it takes to be a professional "futbol" player, but it will fall on deaf ears. The most challenging thing I can put before my fellow Americans to this: "Show me that you can run around constantly for 90 minutes then I might appreciate football more."
    A "futbol" match is played in less than 1 hour and a half. While the average football game lasts three hours. Why? 'Cause football players spend most of their time standing around waiting for the next hike. Impressive stamina … NOT!

    July 14, 2014 at 12:39 pm |
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