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Soccer Bashing: Ann Coulter and our Nation’s Moral Decay

Following is my 942-word response to Ann Coulter’s 943-word nonsense

Dear Ms. Coulter,

As a US citizen living abroad, I have been spared your opinion pieces. However, this changed recently when a friend, no doubt upset by his inability to attend the public viewing of the US-Germany game at a Vienna beach bar, forwarded your piece entitled, “America’s Favorite National Pastime: Hating Soccer.”

He was surprised (and maybe concerned) when it failed to provoke the highly anticipated “pithy” response. Until now.

Forgive the delay but on the evening of June 26, I was too busy to read your article. The beach bar showing the game was so full that we had to go to the next. And then the next. And the next. All the bars Thursday night, the entire length of the Danube canal, were overflowing with Americans caped in Stars and Stripes and Germans decked out in everything German. All in a country that didn’t even make it to the World Cup.

Spring 2014 - all of Panama City stops to watch the Real Madrid - Barcelona soccer game

Spring 2014 – all of Panama City stops to watch the Real Madrid – Barcelona soccer game

Today, together with a room full of people from three continents and four nations, I anxiously held my breath as five individual players from Brazil and Chile each faced off the other team’s goalie in a penalty shootout that would determine who would move into the quarter finals.

Never seen a penalty shootout, Ms. Coulter? Imagine if not just New York City, or New York State, but the entire United States of America sat in anticipation as you alone tried to angle a ball just right so that it would soar 11 meters past a goalie and into a net as hundreds of millions (maybe even billions?) around the world looked on. (FYI: eleven meters is about eleven times the distance from the floor to a doorknob). Your ear drums vibrate to the beat of “USA! USA!”

No individual achievement? But what if you don’t? What if you miss? You’re not just playing for New York, you’re playing for the entire country.

That’s exactly what happened to Gonzalo Jara today. The entire hopes of Chile rested on his shoulders as he swung his leg and kicked the ball. And what happened? It bounced against the right post and flew back across the goal, missing the net. His teammates collapsed and Mineirão Stadium — all of Brazil — exploded in a blaze of yellow and blue. “BRAZIL WINS!!!!!”

Don’t think Jara left the field with a ribbon and a juice box.

And soccer’s heroes? Pelé, Messi, Ronaldo. Ever heard of them? Well, I’d venture they’ve never heard of Coulter either. But soccer’s most legendary kickers are recognized the world over. Soccer unites. The world knows it but we Americans are unfortunately slow in “getting it.”

You seriously believe that the increasing popularity of a universally beloved sport is evidence of our nation’s “moral decay”? Well if that’s the case, can you clarify some points for me since I read and re-read your article and still don’t quite get how soccer = moral decay. I’ve noted your concerns and posed some comments/questions

(1)    team spirit = moral decay? The US Constitution also seems rather group-oriented though, don’t you think? “We the People….. more perfect Union, … common defence, … general Welfare”

(2)    gender equality = moral decay? Let’s skip this since I read somewhere that your relationship “with the feminine is complicated”

(3)    soccer has scoreless ties (sometimes but not always — the knock out portion of the World Cup allows no ties – see penalty shootout above)

(4)    lack of humiliation / “warfare”: Because humiliation and warfare are always moral – is that your point?

(5)    lack of hands: Hand activities are moral activities? And the goalie? And hockey?

(6)    popularity amongst a US minority: Because majority rules and minority should be squashed?

(7)    it’s “foreign”: so are Irish last names

(8)  it uses the metric system: like NASA. BTW, the CDC (, shows the average waist circumference for a man in the last 20 years is 39.7 inches, not 32 (meaning your recommended yard “guesstimates” are nearly 20% off). And this leads me back to your fifth point: if you desperately want to distinguish yourself from lesser beasts by using your hands, why don’t you just give a thumbs-up to a sport that can combat larger waists by offering yet another physical alternative to the wildly popular one involving couch-fridge-couch laps.

(9)    that it might be “catching on” in the US

I grew up in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, PA that lived for sports. When the family dog had puppies, we named them Franco Harris, Rocky Bleier, Lynn Swan and Mean Joe Greene. I cheered one for the thumb in 81 and learned the Pittsburgh Steelers Polka at school. I love “American” football.

My passion for the game has remained undeterred by the less enlightened I’ve encountered over the years who criticize the slowness of a game that includes a mini Kaffeeklatsch after every down. When the Steelers made it to Super XLV in 2011, I secured tickets to the Vienna Marriot Super Bowl party where I madly waved my Terrible Towel above a sea of Green Bay Packer Cheeseheads. The Steelers may have lost but I went home in the wee hours of the morning a happy camper. American football was “finally catching on” abroad.

I promise you, Ms. Coulter, that my great-grandfather’s great-grandfather was born in the US and I love soccer AND football. One can only hope that, in addition to some genuine interest in the real threats to our “nation’s moral decay,” the less enlightened of my fellow countrymen (and women) will stop spreading their closed-minded nonsense and embrace our role on the world’s athletic stage.

And the next time the urge strikes you to write about soccer? Please don’t.

Warm regards from beautiful Vienna,


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For readers fortunate enough to have missed it — Ann Coulter’s article about soccer:

Forbe magazine’s Maury Brown gives an admirable response to Ms. Coulter entitled, “How Miss Coulter Lost Her Mind Over World Cup Soccer”: