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Friday, June 11, 2010
The MRC's War Against Soccer
Topic: Media Research Center

Why does the Media Research Center hate soccer so much?

A June 9 MRC Culture & Media Institute article by Sarah Knoploh and Matt Philbin is an extremely long, World Cup-inspired anti-soccer screed, raging against the "mainstream media" that try to "to force soccer’s square peg in the round hole of American culture." Knoploh and Philbin declare that soccer is "A Game of the Left,"especially on the youth level:

And to conservatives, the troubling aspects of the game aren’t confined to the pros. Soccer requires comparatively little from children but the ability to run after the ball – the risk of failure for anyone except maybe the goal keeper is zero. Even the strong chance that any given game will end in a tie makes it attractive for parents reluctant to impart life’s difficult lessons to young kids.

[Stephen H.] Webb wrote in First Things that, “Sporting should be about breaking kids down before you start building them up. Take baseball, for example. When I was a kid, baseball was the most popular sport precisely because it was so demanding … you had to face the fear of disfigurement as well as the statistical probability of striking out. The spectacle of your failure was so public that it was like having all of your friends invited to your home to watch your dad forcing you to eat your vegetables.”

In short, a powerful component of character building is missing from youth soccer, an important component of character is missing from pro soccer, and a sense of purposefulness is missing from the entire sport.

Knoploh and Philbin even try to explain away the fact that soccer outdraws baseball in Seattle: The baseball Mariners are "a horrible team," and the soccer Souncers "play in a very liberal city, are currently benefiting from World Cup year interest in their sport, and they play a schedule that allows far fewer opportunities for fans to attend."

As if the point that soccer is a wussy liberal sport and not a manly American sport wasn't driven home enough, Knoploh and Philbin add: "As healthcare reform and stimulus spending have underscored, if Europe jumped off a cliff, the American left would be right behind it. So it makes sense that the media’s main argument for accepting soccer is that 'everybody’s doing it.'" And they approvingly quote a writer who says that football "requires American characteristics in order to succeed."

Interestingly, CMI is not the only MRC division on an anti-soccer kick (pardon the pun). A June 10 article by Terry Jeffrey repeats a Zogby poll finding that "63 percent of American men say that soccer is not likely to ever be as popular as football, baseball, basketball or hockey in the United States."

The MRC's hostility toward soccer in strange given that its employees are not exactly known for any demonstrated athletic prowess. Perhaps they protest too much.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:30 AM EDT

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