Suddenly, soccer is more than just playing for hours to break a one-one tie, so it should be no wonder that these games were more widely watched in the United States than any previous World Cup.
Even John Cleese was inspired to weigh in with a comparison of Association Football to American Football. His arguments: 1) Strategy in Association Football is determined by players rather than by coaches and offensive coordinators; 2) Play in American Football is broken up more often for commercial breaks; 3) American Football is violent; 4) American footballs aren’t spherical and therefore shouldn’t be called “balls”; and 5) American Football isn’t actually played with your feet. Valid points, perhaps, but let’s address them one by one.
1. If the strategy you’re referring to is which direction and how hard to kick a ball, there’s no need to get an offensive coordinator involved. There’s little more to soccer, except that when I played soccer in 7th grade there were also slide tackles. Somehow, it was legal to slide into an opposing player and make them eat turf, and our strategy was to make that happen as often as possible regardless of who scored how many goals. In American football, there are passing plays, running plays, onside kicks, two-point conversions, clock management, and a variety of offensive and defensive formations. Some of these calls are made from the sidelines but so what? Advantage: American Football.
2. Commercials are not entirely evil. They can be as entertaining as the game itself, which is why so many commercial campaigns kick off during, or are exclusive to the Superbowl. Besides, if a soccer game goes for so long without built-in breaks, how do the fans refresh their snacks or use the bathroom without missing some of the action? Then again, it is kind of refreshing to see a game clock that doesn’t stop just because somebody dropped the pass or stepped out of bounds. Advantage: Association Football.
3. Violent? Heck, yeah! At least when somebody gets hit and falls down in American Football, you know it’s not a flop. Advantage: American Football.
4. Association Football and American Football (along with rugby, Australian-rules football, and other games) derive from the same ancestral game that was played in medieval Europe. The ball in question was “made of leather, fabric, or wood, a pig bladder filled with hay, or even a wooden block.” If you’re going for an authentic and historic size and shape for your football, it seems like anything goes. Soccer’s opted for a ball that rolls easily when kicked. Football’s gone for a design that can be spiral-tossed for long yardage. Advantage: Neither.
5. American Football isn’t played with your feet. True enough. Advantage: Association Football.
Result: Let’s call it a draw.