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
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
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.