Johnny And Al's Stateside Soccer On TV

Some people are sniffy about soccer fans in the US but they are mostly not idiots and they get to watch their football with an eight egg omelette. What's not to like? Enjoy...

Last Updated: 11/04/13 at 12:52 Post Comment

Latest Articles

British Coach Abroad: Martin Rennie

Post comment

At the age of 30 he gave up sales and marketing to pursue his calling as a coach and ended up in the MLS for two years. He's now moved to Seoul to start again...

Liverpool: Five Similiarities Five Years On

11 comments

There are key differences - largely off the pitch - but Liverpool fan Sam Drury has spotted five things that are similar five years on. A big sale, a big Italian arrival...

All Articles

Half of this column has spent the week doing unspeakable things to his body at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas and is currently residing in Beverly Hills with his liver weeping at the heinous abuse it has suffered. On this trip some things have occurred to him.

Some get irritated that Americans call football 'soccer', although we ourselves find it rather endearing, and a throwback to the good old days when people talked of 'rugger' and 'soccer' and even 'footer' and you could do unconscionable things to your fag without fear of censure or appointment to a senior posting in the Conservative party. In fact, the use of the word soccer goes back to the 19th century beginnings of the game, which was just before the Premier League's inception. So on this matter, Americans are right and sneery Euro-trashers who think it represents their misunderstanding of football culture are wrong.

This column has travelled to America many, many times over the last couple of decades and finds watching, and talking, soccer there to be a constant pleasure. The time difference on the East Coast - we should add that we largely stick to the coasts for fear of potatoes, Jesus freaks and big men called Bubba who buy porn magazines which feature naked women firing guns - means that you can enjoy a 3pm kick-off with a bracing 10am pint and an eight egg breakfast omelette, or a long, late lunch with the Champions League. On the West Coast, you can watch live Premier League football with your bacon, maple syrup and grits, as half of this column did on Sunday. If there is a finer start to the day than a bit of delicious California scran by a sunny pool strewn with bikinied ladies as you watch Chelsea v Sunderland, then we have yet to come across it. Well, perhaps you might substitute Sunderland for another team, but the point stands. It is a jarring juxtaposition, to be sure, but an enervating one.

The TV coverage itself has its heroes and zeroes in the same way we do in UK but this is somewhat offset by the fascinating, seemingly arbitrary selection of ex-Premier League players called upon to dispense insight. Is that...yes, yes it is...it's Warren Barton. What are you doing here, Warren? Boom boom, it's Shaka Hislop and...yay, some other bloke we vaguely remember from 1994 and someone else who once played for Hereford United in 1967. Welcome, one and all.

A bit of distance from the Premier League - or, rather, a distance from the constant feeding frenzy of synthetic scandal, bile and outrage that swarms around the actual football - is no bad thing. The absence of the hysteria industry that goes with the sport is refreshing; the pages of the Los Angeles Times or the Washington Post remain, mystifyingly, free of the sort of 'Did Suarez Deliberately Kick Guide Dog?' nonsense that greets the UK football fan on a daily basis. In the USA, you can enjoy the football without the hate and the shrill indignation. It's also the case that those things that initially might jar - expressions such as 'a shut-out' for example, all actually add to the glorious alien nature of the beast. It is to be embraced and not rejected as 'wrong'.

Football is a universal language. Troop into a rainforest and soon enough you'll find someone in a Barcelona shirt with Messi on the back. On the elevated plains of the Andes, tribal elders worship James Milner as a god while others have a tribal name for Harry Redknapp that when translated means 'unpleasant melted candle'.

However, despite the best efforts of FIFA, the US women's team and Saint David of Beckham, football is of course still a minority sport in the USA. But this is in no way a bad thing, because the US football fan is therefore more likely to be smarter than the average bear. Because the sport is played so much outside of American shores, they are often by default, more open-minded, global and cultured animals. They are often left-field, quirky, indie sorts who want little to do with the 'jock' culture intrinsic to American society. They don't see crushing a beer can on your forehead as your greatest achievement.

It's very pleasing to see how well-respected women's football is in America. The sexist sneering that all too often happens in the UK is mostly absent here. After two decades of success at international tournaments, many of the women footballers are big stars. Women such as the impressive Abby Wambac,h who won the FIFA player of the year award in 2012, command great respect as athletes and sportswomen in a way that our own sadly do not. They even have players such as the splendidly named Hope Solo deemed famous enough to be involved in boyfriend-related scandals. This all adds to the colour of football life.

Fans select a club to support and throw themselves into it wholeheartedly, often being more well-versed in its history and players than a local boy in England. Because football is inescapable in the UK, almost everyone has at least some passing interest. Naturally, it is often those who know the least about it who have the loudest opinions, meaning that any conversation with a stranger about the sport in the UK has to be approached with caution. Because there aren't that many football fans in the USA, and it's a bit of a boutique choice of sport to watch, the chance of a person going 'I support Arsenal (or whoever)' and then giving you a ludicrous opinion that makes you want to punch them in the eye is smaller than in the UK. In America, you can enjoy football at odd times of day, and without idiots, and that is surely an excellent way to go.

John Nicholson and Alan Tyers

Read Johnny's book, 'The Meat Fix' here

Alan's football and cricket books are all in one place here

Follow Alan on Twitter here

or Johnny here.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

C

an we get one on the similarities between this year's Arsenal and 5 years ago. Or any other number you care to pick frankly...it shouldn't be hard.

mc1728
Liverpool: Five Similiarities Five Years On

R

icky van Wolfswinkel's remarkable record of one goal from one game at least deserves an honourable mention. And I'm willing to bet that at least one of Costa, Ulloa or Enner Valencia will earn a place on the list by the end of the season. Probably not Costa

stevenjameshyde
Top Ten PL Strikers Who Started Like A Train...

I

will also give up birthday Christmas and bacon for this to happen

badwolf
Ronaldo return ‘in place’

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Premier League: Jose Mourinho confirms Eden Hazard's Chelsea contract talks ongoing

Jose Mourinho is confident Eden Hazard will commit his future to Chelsea, with talks ongoing over a contract extension.

Daley Blind backs Louis van Gaal's brutally honest approach at Manchester United

Daley Blind says Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal's brutally honest manner is good for team-building.

Premier League: Manchester United winger Angel di Maria delighted with Old Trafford bow

Manchester United winger Angel di Maria was delighted with his Old Trafford debut after the 4-0 win over QPR.

Mail Box

Who's More Miserable - Baggies Or Mags?

There's not a lot to choose between the misery of West Brom fans and the misery of Newcastle fans. We have mails on them, 'only QPR' and lots on Man United...

Forget it, Ronaldo Won't Come Back

A varied morning mailbox, with thoughts on Ronaldo, Daley Blind = Michael Carrick, Ed Woodward redemption, stick with Pardew, QPR's name change and marbles...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property