You’ll know soccer has truly arrived in this country when television broadcasters and analysts put down their pompoms for the U.S. team.
During FS1’s pregame show Tuesday night, all four American analysts picked the United States to defeat heavily favored Argentina in the Copa America tournament.
We deserve better than cheerleading. We deserve clear thinking. If you’re going to lead with your heart instead of your head, hand in your broadcasting credential and pick up a romance novel. It didn’t take long Tuesday to figure out Argentina was playing a different game. The Americans failed to get a shot on net in a 4-0 loss. That’s no shots, as in none.
The U.S. team is decent, so having all four experts pick it to beat the best team in the world isn’t like having all four experts pick the out-of-nowhere U.S. hockey team to beat Russia in the 1980 Olympics. But it’s still silly and unprofessional. Even if the boosters/broadcasters really, really wanted the Americans to win, sober thought would have told at least one of them that, you know what, this probably isn’t going to end well for the U.S.
Since my soccer awakening during the 2014 World Cup, I’ve watched plenty of games. Maybe as an outsider and as someone with a broader view of sports, I see things the zealots don’t. And what I continue to see is broadcasters with too much of a rooting interest in the U.S. team and in the sport succeeding here. Soccer will stand on its own merits. And to a savvy American audience weaned on criticism, boosterism doesn’t go over well. Some of us like honesty, even if it hurts.
Too many people are more worried about growing soccer in this country than looking at it with a level head and doing it justice. You’ll know the sport has truly taken root when objectivity takes hold. Right now, objectivity looks about a million miles away.