When you look up “wet blanket” in the dictionary, there should be a picture of Dan Shaughnessy. While the country is embroiled in the World Cup, Dan Shaughnessy has taken it upon himself to fulfill the role of soccer hater. Because the one thing we really need right now is a curmudgeonly sports columnist with an inflated sense of self-importance to tell us that we’re all wrong, soccer sucks, and rap music is scary.
It’d be almost downright heroic what Dan Shaughnessy wrote in the Boston Globe recently, being the lone voice crying in the wilderness and all. It’d be heroic if Dan Shaughnessy wasn’t such a flip-flopper.
Deadspin already examined Shaughnessy’s recycled soccer-hating column that goes all the way back to 1990 and is broken out every four years. I guess congratulations are in order for using the phrase “Futbol Moonies” in two different millennia. Now that Rick Reilly has retired from column writing, it’s up to somebody to carry forward the “Copy And Paste From Cliched Sports Column A” mantle. But there’s another Shaughnessy column that needs to be addressed in this conversation.
There are a million factual errors, misnomers, and generally superstitious and backwards logic that we could pull out of Shaughnessy’s column to gently correct. His claim that American adults won’t pay to watch soccer (false), or that the game is too boring because there aren’t enough goals (lazy), comparing liking soccer to having the metric system forced upon us (WTF?), complaining that they don’t use their hands (again, lazy), and there aren’t enough commercial breaks (again, WTF?).
But we’re here to bring light to the time that Dan Shaughnessy was enthralled with a soccer match. Why? To show that this most recent column is nothing more than Skip Bayless/Rush Limbaugh inspired tripe that a supposedly respected paper like the Boston Globe should be embarrassed to publish.
I know where this takes some folks. If you don’t like soccer the Futbol Moonies will insist that you are an aging, unhip, xenophobic, uncultured dolt. Soccer is the world’s most popular game. It’s the game of the future. Anyone who doesn’t embrace soccer is simply ignorant, close-minded, or unable to grasp the concept that there is a whole wide world outside of Route 128.
I’ve heard it all. I’ve been down this path for 40 years. My esteemed colleague, Bob Ryan, this past week said that anyone who doesn’t get into the World Cup is not a true sports fan.
Sorry. I am done apologizing for not loving soccer. I am guilt-free. This is America. Land of choice. Land of freedom. I choose to ignore the World Cup on television. Please don’t hate me.
Here’s Dan Shaughnessy during the 2011 Women’s World Cup after the legendary USA-Brazil game with bold emphasis added:
That seals it. Soccer has arrived. The Worldwide Leader is right again. Like millions of other Americans, Ken Nigro is setting his Old School Timex to watch today’s women’s World Cup final, featuring the United States and Japan, in Frankfurt.
Count me as one of the last holdouts. I’m one of those ugly Americans who’d normally prefer to stick needles in my eyes than watch soccer. Parental duties required days on the soccer sideline when my kids were little, but that was different. Watching grown-ups play soccer on television has forever been a chore.
You know the familiar arguments. It always seems to be nil-nil. No natural progression toward scoring. Too much flopping. The subjective and ever-ambiguous injury/stoppage time. No timeouts for bathroom breaks. Not enough violence. They always score the only goal when you’re tying your shoe. You can’t use your hands – most of the best things in sports are done with hands.
It has bothered me that soccer buffs from foreign lands can’t understand America’s resistance to soccer as a spectator sport. I consider myself tolerant of my European and South American friends who think baseball is boring. Why would anyone love baseball unless they grew up watching it? I only ask that folks from soccer lands extend us the same understanding.
But watching the US women’s team has been a thrill. They have personality. They score a lot of goals. They’re tough when the chips are down.
And just for fun, let’s go back to Shaughnessy, circa 1990:
I hate watching soccer.
There. I said it. Does this make me a bad person? Does this make me woefully ill equipped to write a sports column for a major metropolitan daily? Does this mean I’m the kind of guy who cheats on his taxes, eats the last chicken leg and takes 11 items through the eight-items-or-less line at Star Market?
No, no and no. I just hate watching soccer and I’m getting pretty fed up with the guilt I’m supposed to feel. When can Americans stop apologizing and admit that it’s just not working? Kids love to play the game. Great. Does that mean we have to pretend it’ll someday be a major spectator sport in this country?
So Dan Shaughnessy clearly hates soccer, hates its fans, hates everything about it… except for that one time he didn’t? Except for that one time he admitted that soccer had “arrived”? What gives? Here’s more from Shaughnessy’s brief love affair with the sport in 2011…
Last Sunday’s game against Brazil goes right up there as one of the great sporting events of this, or any year. It might not be USA hockey’s victory over Russia in Lake Placid in 1980, but it’s on the medal platform. It was a terrific demonstration of athleticism and the American spirit of never quitting.
So maybe it’s just a USA thing instead of a soccer thing… but if Dan Shaughnessy hated soccer so much, why did he fall in love with the USWNT? Why would he claim that soccer had arrived as a sport and then just three years later go back to the same tired arguments against it straight from 1990.
Dan Shaughnessy, 2011: Soccer has arrived.
Dan Shaughnessy, 2014: Soccer is not a mainstream professional sport.
WHICH IS IT DAN?!?! I need your Sports Columnist Opinion from on high so I can decide what to think because I’m too helpless to do it for myself!
Take a moment and ask yourself what makes someone tick who feels the need to tell millions of people that they hate something you love. And then take a moment and ask what makes someone tick when they flip flop so violently on the same subject.
Furthermore, why does this always happen in regards to soccer? You don’t see these columns during the NBA or NHL Playoffs, or the Olympics, or the Ryder Cup. It’s just plain bizarre that so many people (including this columnist and scores of Twitter trolls) feel the need to tell you how much they hate soccer if you happen to like it.
It would be like someone who didn’t like dogs running up to everyone walking their puppy on the street and telling them how much they hated you and their adorable little friend. That’s what Dan Shaughnessy is basically doing here. Yelling at cute puppies.