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42


THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 42, July 27, 1998

Soccer-Mom Hell

by Stephen Moore**

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

         After watching my six year old son Justin's first two soccer games this spring I finally understand why Europeans riot at soccer matches. For the same reason that inmates riot in prisons: out of sheer boredom.
         There is no surer sign of decline of America's culture than the modern-day craze over this godawful European sport. Drive past a park on a clear spring afternoon and your likely to witness a depressingly unpatriotic sight: the baseball diamond lies empty as crab grass grows in the infield, while herds of healthy red-blooded American children dressed in preposterous looking polyester uniforms run around aimlessly kicking a white and black ball nowhere and to no apparent end.
         Soccer at any level -- from six and under peewee leagues to the pros (I am forever amazed that there are people who would actually pay money to watch a soccer game) -- is about as scintillating as 90 minutes of Court TV. Soccer is somewhat reminiscent of ACC college basketball games in the pre-shot clock era when halftime scores were in the single digits: North Carolina 9, Virginia 7. (What is it they used to say about Dean Smith? The only man who ever held Michael Jordan to less than 20 points a game.)
         Soccer is the least offensive-minded game ever invented. They might as well establish a slaughter rule once a team gains a two goal advantage. Throw in the towel. No mas. To overcome such a deficit is to ask the losing team to climb Mt. Everest.
         During the second period of one game last year a Good Humor truck drove by the park and on hearing the tinkling of the bells half our team instinctively awoke from their on-field slumber and scrambled from the playing field in joyous pursuit. Finally a prize worth pursuing. Meanwhile, on the field the game relentlessly continued. For more than five minutes our opponents commanded the equivalent of a five-man power play advantage and they -- still -- couldn't score. Now I know what it must have been like to have lived through the hundred year war. Soccer is the furthest thing imaginable from instant gratification.
         No other activity in life requires so much effort for so little reward. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the action in a soccer game has virtually no bearing on the outcome of the game. Herein may lie the explanation for why so many of my government-bureaucrat neighbors in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. have a love affair with soccer.
         In soccer every mother's child is above average. There's no shame in losing (no wonder the French love this sport so much) and a tie is the likely outcome. No one's performance is better than anyone else's and no child can be, god-forbid, judged. This egalitarian philosophy extends to the absurdity of giving every kid a trophy at the end of the season. Even the kids that stunk up the place.
         I am convinced that the ordeal of soccer teaches our kids all the wrong lessons in life. Soccer is the Marxist concept of the labor theory of value applied to sports -- which may explain why socialist nations dominate in the World Cup. The purpose of a capitalist economy is to produce the maximum output for the least amount of exertion and work. Soccer produces huge volumes of work and effort but no output.
         What makes peewee soccer particularly insidious is that boys and girls play together. The left has converted this sport into a giant social experiment imposed upon us by the geniuses that have put women in combat in the military. No one seems to care much that co-ed sports is doing irreparable harm to the psyche of America's little boys.
         At this pre-puberty state of life girls tower over the boys and typically have greater coordination. Last year the Pele of my son's league was a kindergartner named Kate Lynn -- Secretariat in pigtails. During one game, Kate Lynn stampeded over Justin repeatedly, which, of course, did wonders for his fledgling self-esteem. After the third knockdown, I quietly pulled him aside and advised: "Remember that rule about never hitting a girl. Let's suspend that for the next 40 minutes." But he never did because she was bigger than he was.
         If the girls are bad, the moms are worse. They berate the referees. Taunt opposing players. Nag the coach unmercifully to put their no-talent kid back in. One woman paced the sidelines all game in a wild-eye frenzy screaming: "Jeffrey, Jeffrey, Jeffrey ... " My kingdom for a muzzle. Once the game mercifully ended she smothered him with hugs while cooing: "Oh Jeffrey you are soooo good at soccer." Take my word for it, Newt, the Republican party is much better off without these women. If she's in, I'm out.
         During the games, I usually stand mute on the sidelines reading the newspaper. My refusal to feign interest is a source of great irritation to some of the more fanatical soccer moms. They now whisper disapprovingly among themselves: "Oh, that's Justin's dad. He has an attitude problem." They regard my cavalier attitude as a form of child abuse. Next they'll be notifying the child-welfare league about me.
         So the issue of the day is whether we Americans will take back our culture from the un-American soccer enthusiasts. We need to begin to channel our kids energies into more productive activities: baseball, football, tennis, MTV -- even smoking would be an improvement.
         Soccer is draining America of its top talent in the sports that really matter -- like basketball. Charles Barkley recently warned that within the next three Olympics the Europeans will be competitive with the U.S. Dream Team. When Sweden beats the NBA stars in basketball, Americans will assuredly awaken from their slumber.
         But by then it will be too late.


** Stephen Moore is director of fiscal policy studies at the Cato Institute. This article originally appeared in National Review and was forwarded to TLE by Tom Creasing hobbyt@hevanet.com.


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