Saturday, July 5, 2014 | 2:01 a.m.
It’s OK for political conservatives to like soccer.
There’s no need to feel guilty for watching the World Cup in Brazil.
I mention this because syndicated columnist Ann Coulter wrote a column to warn conservatives that interest in watching World Cup soccer in America “can only be a sign of the nation’s moral decay.”
Coulter’s point was that soccer is for liberals.
“The same people trying to push soccer on Americans are the ones demanding that we love HBO’s ‘Girls,’ light rail, Beyonce and Hillary Clinton,” she wrote.
Seriously. She worked Hillary Clinton into a soccer column. And Ted Kennedy, too.
“If more ‘Americans’ are watching soccer today, it’s only because of the demographic switch effected by Teddy Kennedy’s 1965 immigration law,” she wrote. “I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer.”
I realize that Coulter writes more to inflame than inform, but the political template she imposes on soccer couldn’t be more misguided or uninformed.
Conservatives ought to love soccer. Here’s are a few reasons why:
1. Soccer rewards top performers
Although salary caps have become common in most sports, soccer, especially in Europe, has allowed teams to spend whatever they want to attract the best players.
As a result, Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo earns $52 million a year playing for Real Madrid and $29 million in product endorsements. That’s more than LeBron James makes playing basketball and pitching Coca-Cola, Nike and the rest of his products.
Two of the top five highest-paid athletes in the world are soccer players, according to Forbes magazine. Ronaldo is No. 2 behind boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.; Lionel Messi is No. 4.
2. Soccer punishes failure
Coulter wrote that there are “no heroes, no losers, no accountability” in soccer.
I guess she never heard of teams being “relegated” to lower leagues. In the English Premier League, teams who do poorly run the risk of being removed from the league and replaced with a high-performing team from a lower league.
Compare that to American football and basketball, where poorly performing teams have an incentive to lose games at the end of the season because that gives them a higher draft pick for the next season.
The sports that Coulter holds out as truly American are the ones that follow the liberal ethos she incorrectly ascribes to soccer.
The National Football League gives better teams harder schedules in an effort to give every team a better chance to make the playoffs. And in the National Basketball Association, teams with losing records still get a chance to be in the league’s expansive playoffs. This past season, the Atlanta Hawks were a playoff team despite having a record of 38 wins and 44 losses.
3. Soccer is anti-regulatory
The regulations of soccer are contained in 17 simple rules. In total, the game’s fully explained in about 9,000 words — only 800 more than the U.S. Constitution and its amendments, points out David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner.
“Compare that to Major League Baseball’s 47,000-word rulebook (excluding the index, foreword and summary of 2014 rule changes),” he wrote. “The NFL rulebook, excluding extraneous material, contains more than 70,000 words.
“What, do you like football because you like Obamacare?”
4. Soccer is not litigious
The power in soccer resides with one center referee and his or her whistle.
Coaches can’t throw red flags on the field or get timeouts to demand replays. Referees who make bad judgments get punished by losing a chance to referee future games. But there’s no time stoppage of the game to go to the video booth or to indulge arguments.
It’s not a sport that rewards lawyering. Soccer, like life, sometimes isn’t fair. Get used to it.
5. Soccer celebrates the corporation
American football, basketball and baseball forbid corporate logos on uniforms, but professional soccer allows corporations to plaster their logos on the front of soccer jerseys as the central dominating image.
Last season’s Major League Soccer championship match between Salt Lake City and Kansas City looked more like a game between the dietary supplement LifeVantage and the Ivy Funds financial services management company.
6. Soccer prizes a strong defense
Yes, soccer at high levels tends to be low-scoring. But that’s because teams realize that holding the other side from scoring is sometimes the best you can do.
I would think that conservatives would understand this, especially considering that for the past six years they’ve devoted themselves exclusively to keeping the president from achieving any of his goals.
Frank Cerabino writes for the Palm Beach Post.