Soccer is a Google beta. Football is a Microsoft release.

I’m an ignoramus about sports so take that dose of salt first. But while watching Olympic soccer, it occurred me to that the sport never took off in America because we prefer results to process.

I twittered that and a discussion ensued:

Richard Sambrook said: I assume that soccer comment was heavy with irony in the light of US football timeouts etc v the fluidity of the beautiful game?

Me: Point taken. But every down is measurable progress. That’s how we run companies: deliverables, metrics, milestones, deadlines.

Mohamed Nanbhay: Admittedly I don’t know much about sport but would think that football was about a result while American football about progress.

Me: Well-said. But I keep focusing on the idea that soccer is a process. On my mind because papers struggle with process v. product.

Mohamed Nanbhay: That makes sense. Football is dynamic, players think of their feet. American football is about planning and execution?

Me: Right. And that’s more American, I think: the belief that things can be planned, then executed.

Ross: Soccer is samba. Football is line dancing.

Me: I like that. Fill in the blanks, everybody: Soccer is ____. Football is _____. Football is American because ____.

Thomas Knuewer: Nice idea. So: Soccer is free trade. Football is WTO. Football is American because it’s over regulated.

Me: By that rule, then chess is the sport of the regulated EU.

Shane Richmond: Soccer is Jackson Pollack, football is Piet Mondrian. I like this game! (But not the word ‘soccer’)

CharlesThomas: I think soccer isn’t big in the US because we prefer discrete units, pitch/snap/24 sec shot clock.

CharlesThomas: Hockey is kind of an exception, but play stops often enough for it to be discrete.

Me: Hockey’s not American. It’s Canadian a heart. And Canada is of the empire. Rule holds.

niltiac: You mean soccer’s slow and boring and the best team doesn’t always win? My thoughts exactly. Rugby – now that’s a real sport.

Mohamed Nanabhay: Do you think the national sport reflects in the way business is done? Strangely, they don’t play test cricket over here.

Ross: Soccer is the world’s game. Football is American because we win in games we invent.

Benroone: Soccer doesn’t take off in the US because you can’t break for adverts every 5 minutes.

ciaranj: Soccer is interesting. Football is boring. Football is American because it’s built around advertising.

Me: Soccer is flow. Football is a PERT chart.

Me: Soccer is a Google beta. Football is a Microsoft release.

  • http://blog.syracuse.com/newstracker Brian Cubbison

    Soccer is back and forth; football is gains and losses.

    Soccer is a dance; football is a march.

  • http://rexblog.com Rex Hammock

    I’m late to your game but here goes:

    American football is war — a series of skirmishes and battles that is won by the side that has the widest array of weapons. To win, you need 300 lb. linemen and 180 lb. sprinters. It takes generals and foxhole fighters. It’s massively expensive to equip. I could go on and on with this metaphor, but will stop there.

    Football (soccer) is competitive ballet — speed, agility, incredible footwork, grace, a lifetime of dedication — I could go on with this metaphor…

  • tbo11

    soccer is passionate foreplay begging for a goal (have you seen the celebrations when they score?). football is just intercourse.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with intercourse.

  • http://www.crazyfinger.org/ Crazyfinger

    Ahem…in other words, soccer is our momma, football is our papa.

  • BW

    Soccer is ping-pong. Football is boxing. Ponder that one.

  • http://beautifulgame.com Beautifulgamer

    I don’t know if we should really compare the two games. They are so different. One point to consider is that soccer (football) is the most popular game in the world while American football isn’t necessarily the most poplular game in the U.S. I think we only compare the two games because of the confusion in their names. I think for instance that basketball – because of it’s flow and movement of players – is closer to football (soccer) than American football is. Personally – I think that soccer hasn’t taken off not because of the style of the game but simply for cultural reasons – Americans wanting to be different from Europeans. And I think that conceivably this has resulted over the years in a kind of prejudice against football (soccer). The interesting thing that we are finding now in the US (and Canada – where I live) is a retaliatory prejudice where North American soccer (football) fans are becoming prejudiced against the conventional North American sports.

  • Pingback: For Dads » Blog Archive » Soccer Search Engine Results

  • Mike G

    Soccer isn’t popular in America because the score never gets higher than 3. People in poor countries like low numbers. They’re used to them. Americans want high numbers, dammit!

    Also, football is corporate, you have a QB-CEO and a bunch of executives and workers. Soccer is socialist, you just run any damn place you please and take August off.

  • invitedmedia

    soccer is rudolph valentino

    football is ernest borgnine

  • Tree Frog

    Football is the grinding ruck of zaibatsus.

    Soccer is that weird feeling when you realize that immense distance between your head and feet is your controllable body.

    Basketball is jazz.

    • http://www.bogaziciestetik.com/ gö?üs esteti?i

      I note with interest watching the Olympics that there are frequent ‘technical’ timeouts during various sports (e.g. volleyball). Puh-lease. These are tv ad slots and nothing else.

  • http://thebeatmonger.blogspot.com AJ

    Football is a game of inches
    Soccer is a game of goals

    anyone who says soccer has no strategy has never played. anyone who says football is just two competing algorithms has never played either.

  • http://www.jeroenmirck.nl Jeroen Mirck

    Soccer is art. Football is mathematics. Football is American because it is tied down with rules and regulations.

  • http://www.ukfree.tv Briantist

    It’s also funny that the two games that British schoolgirls play: Rounders and Netball are the macho blokes games in the States: Baseball and Basketball…

  • Cooler Heads

    This is bizarre and too cute by half. It’s also littered with bias of all sorts, and everyone who twittered sounds like an ignoramus.

  • http://salimismail.com Salim Ismail

    Jesus… what a crazy thread. Some great comments.

    Jeff, it’s really very simple why pro soccer hasn’t caught on in the U.S: no natural TV breaks. Football, baseball, basketball (and golf) are littered with advertising slots and those big TV deals are what fund those sports. Hockey has a tougher time with breaks, so it’s not doing so well.

    Soccer, with 45 minutes per half of low-scoring, continuous play has a TV exec tearing their hair out.

    In the early 90s, Channel 4 in the UK used to take the best NFL game out of a particular weekend, strip out all the breaks and show 60 mins of pure play. It was fabulous and extremely popular. The NFL mistakenly assumed that people would love to have American Football in the UK and hastily organized some exhibition games and a league. Fans turned up expecting 60 mins of pure play only to sit around for 4.5 hours with interminable breaks and left fuming. It didn’t last long.

    I note with interest watching the Olympics that there are frequent ‘technical’ timeouts during various sports (e.g. volleyball). Puh-lease. These are tv ad slots and nothing else.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Cooler,
    What the hell does that add to the conversation? I suggest a sock.

  • http://www.mohamedn.com mohamed

    @Jeroen Mirck : So American Football is what happens when you cross Sarbanes-Oxley with sport?

    @Jeff : if spelling my surname were a soccer match, you’d be 2-1 down ;-)

  • Glyn

    As a Brit, I like watching American football. At least I know who’s winning and something is going to be achieved in the next few minutes (gaining 10 yards or not gaining 10 yards).

  • Cooler Heads

    Jeff, you put something stupid out there, you get stupid out. Simple.

  • http://olywa.blogspot.com Emmett

    @ Salim Ismail, no natural tv breaks, which is exactly why advertisers should be throwing money at soccer in the US right now.

    Over the past 18 months since I’ve gotten a DVR, my heavy t.v. sports diet has changed dramatically. I’ll record a game, and wait 45 minutes to an hour before I start watching it, so I can skip through crap to get to the meat of the game. Works great with both baseball and football.

    Soccer on the other hand, once I get through the 30 minutes that EPSN tacks onto MLS games (not USMNT games though), I can watch the entire game practically without touching the remote. But, there is still advertising. Little buttons in the top right hand corner next to the clock and score, scrolling billboards next to the field and kit sponsors.

    If you’re an advertiser who spends money on t.v. sports, soccer is the only game where your targets won’t leave the t.v. or fast forward through your ads.

    Also: @ Jeff, and everyone else. Saying that soccer isn’t “big in America” and trying to connect it to some aspect of our culture is like saying fly fishing isn’t big. Soccer is freaking huge, you can’t avoid it, but its part of a field, like fly fishing is part of the entire outdoors field.

    And, there’s nothing new about soccer leagues failing in other countries, as the top pro league in Ireland is struggling right now. Why won’t soccer work in Ireland? They just like baseball too much.

  • http://olywa.blogspot.com Emmett

    Sorry, that was a long rant. I don’t feel as angry as I probably sound.

  • James

    Soccer is the most watched sport in the world. Football is not.

  • Peter

    Let me share my thoughts, I am probably totally wrong and not smart enough to discuss anything here cause I didn’t finish Uni but here it goes..

    The US embraces their sports like any other country would and gridiron is from the States so obviously they will like that sport more than soccer “football” or other sports. Plus everything is about business over there and ads brings business and money… no more to say there.

    Results rather than process?
    How do you get results? by following a particular process, guideline, path what ever you call it but you can’t get results without a strategy or process…. Am I right? I don’t think I am but I am sure you all get me…

    Soccer is like a plane, it can take you 90 mins to get from one place to the other with no stops but gridiron is like the bus going to the same place cause they will have 40 or 100 spots before they get there, it will take over 4hrs to get there and every time you stop or have a break there is always a junk food store to buy something…. heheheh

    >Rex Hammock > “American football is war” if you call that war then what would you call Rugby Junior or Rugby League… have you ever watched these sports? watch it then tell me what you would call them… no helmets or padding here, rubgy is a man’s game.

    >Mike G Says > Mike poor countries follow soccer?? So you mean England, Spain and Italy are poor countries , What an ignorama mate.

  • http://blogpi.net William Beutler

    Go Ducks!

    That said: Hey, and I know English born and raised people living in the U.S. who are gigantic American football (and basketball) fans and don’t care so much for soccer/football, let alone cricket. So I must dissent strongly from the “anti-American” tenor of this whole debate.

    And I played a lot of the European version as a kid, but never qualified for the American form when older. Living in a non-NFL town I didn’t care too much until I got to college, when I attended pretty much every Ducks game at Autzen Stadium, and still watch on satellite at the metropolitan-area UO sports bar in Arlington Courthouse. U.S. sports in general, football in particular and college football especially are regional, nearly tribal associations, formed early and influencing behavior throughout one’s life. I’m sure much the same can be said for soccer/football.

    Of course, I spike my pigskin in the end zone of American football. Soccer is fine, though I slightly prefer hockey, with baseball, basketball and football in ascending order. Plus, everything Carlin said about baseball would have a soccer analog — the clock counting up and tacking on timeout time afterward is weird enough.

  • Frank

    Soccer is the US

    Football is the World

  • http://www.unclejayexplainsthenews.com Uncle Jay

    Many comments here seem to assume that none of these sports existed before television. But soccer was a neglected sport in America long before TV showed up.

    60 years ago, pro baseball was by far the most popular American sport. College football/basketball were a distant second, with pro football/basketball less or more popular than college, depending on where you lived. Soccer was barely on America’s radar.

    TV has definitely been a major reason behind the huge growth of football and basketball (and the eclipse of baseball), and for creating even more distance of interest in soccer for Americans. But soccer was always an American afterthought.

    It’s true that the natural pauses of American football & basketball made them more attractive to TV execs, but if soccer had had any kind of large following when TV sports was born, they would have found a way to make it work on the air. The invention of TV only made the various philosophical and neurological differences suggested here more obvious, but they were already firmly established.

  • Charles Smith

    Soccer never took off in America because until recently there was no economic incentive for the best athletes to pursue soccer- they make an unconscious choice very early on to pursue a sport where they could make money. We are seeing the same phenomenon happen in reverse with basketball in Europe- as the leagues grow there (and the NBA scouts more effectively), we see more and more world class basketball players coming out of Europe. As more US soccer players go abroad and MLS gets better, I think we’ll see continued growth in the interest of soccer- the ratings for Euro 2008 were significantly better than those for 2004- ultimately, no matter the sport, the quality of overall play is a significant factor in its popularity.

  • Andrew

    Peter Says:
    “>Rex Hammock > “American football is war” if you call that war then what would you call Rugby Junior or Rugby League… have you ever watched these sports? watch it then tell me what you would call them… no helmets or padding here, rubgy is a man’s game.”

    Rugby is a tough sport played by tough people, that’s easy to see. The difference is that you need pads to play football the way its meant to be played. Rugby is not as violent and therefore players don’t need pads.

    As for soccer and football, I think Americans who really love the game find that you can’t get the testosterone and violence in any other sport. Soccer just doesn’t have it.

  • Peter

    Andrew says:
    Rubgy is not as violent and therefore players don’t need pads.

    I have to disagree on that comment mate, have you seen a rugby game? 40 mins each half, no breaks every few mins and everyone attacks and defends, taking each other down every few seconds and no breaks until someone obviously scores.

    So what makes american football more violent? I mean if I had a helmet for sure I would run into someone with it, after all they have pads to protect them, right?

    Watch clips in youtube like this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA7LsuGt3Gg&feature=related

    But if we really want to talk about getting your testosterone going then lets talk MMA, now that is a total different thing, but lets stick to football codes for now.. :-)

    I guess there is a reason why football “soccer for americans” is the most popular sport around. Not everyone can kick a ball with precision while making it spin around but anyone can through a ball with precision.

  • http://ciarannorris.co.uk Ciaran

    Re-reading my Tweet I’d almost agree with Cooler (at least regarding my comment): that said, there is something strange in the way that football (soccer) has never really taken off in the US, yet has in almost every other nation on earth. I think the point about financial incentives for the participants probably plays quite a large part, as does (since the advent of televised sport) the fact that you can only squeeze in a few ad breaks.

    Anyway, if we really want to get into interesting metaphor territory, let’s try:
    Cricket is _____
    Baseball is _____
    etc…

  • Tony

    Football is one hour of sport wrapped into 2 hours of commercials, 8 hours of fantasy team planning (mostly on the company dime), 3 hours of tailgating, and a few thousand extra calories a week.

    Count me in!

  • http://www.amacdizayn.com web tasar?m

    Anyway, if we really want to get into interesting metaphor territory, let’s try:
    Cricket is _____
    Baseball is _____
    etc…

  • Kasey Ruedas

    Soccer is a game of diligence (when I played, each player played the whole game). Football is a game for players who want a quick fix (offense and defense take turns). Football is American because most people don’t want to work hard for a couple of points performing a more tedious task if they can earn more points for less work.

  • BW

    “Not everyone can kick a ball with precision while making it spin around but anyone can through a ball with precision.”

    I assume you mean throw, but are you serious? If you find throwing a football that easy, you should definitely try out.

  • http://www.tyndallreport.com Andrew Tyndall

    Ciaran —

    Anyway, if we really want to get into interesting metaphor territory, let’s try:
    Cricket is _____
    Baseball is _____

    Jarvis cracked the door open with a sports discussion (very unusual at the BuzzMachine) so let’s kick that door down by really boring his American readers and talking about cricket.

    The literal, non-metaphorical, answer to your question would go like this: “Cricket is a test match; baseball is Twenty20.”

    Yet for all the innovations of Twenty20 that make cricket more like baseball, an underlying difference persists: in baseball the pitcher has control so scoring runs is hard and making outs is easy; in cricket (any form), scoring runs is the norm and taking wickets is hard.

    Thus any generalizations made earlier in this thread about non-Americans being tolerant of low scoring sports fall afoul of cricket, the non-American world’s second most popular team game, unless you count “scores” as being wickets not runs, which nobody does.

    In any event, as Twenty20 tinkers with its rules to try to equalize the match-up between bat and ball, I predict it will become more like baseball. Fielders will wear gloves to make outs easier and runs scarcer; and the format will be adjusted to allow more frequent innings breaks for television advertising, with each innings of 20 overs being broken into four sets of five so the rotation between batting and fielding grows more similar to baseball’s top and bottom of each inning.

  • Bob Roberts

    Soccer has about as much strategy as two 12-year-olds playing Stratego. It doesn’t get better with age, but is just a continuation of an elementary school game with faster players.

    Football on the other hand goes from something like kill anyone with the ball to a tactical battle for control of territory with playbooks, audibles, and strategy that gets better as the game goes.

    Americans generally like something with a bit more substance than soccer offers.

  • Pingback: Dave Burdick dot com » Romantics For Football

  • Kerry

    Soccer is football.

    Football is soccer.

    Suck it Americunts.

  • Kerry

    PS. Nobody except americans would ever think of american football as “tough”. Its basically a pussified version of rugby. Plus 10 times more boring and slow.

  • http://www.wland.eu Internet Media audit

    Let’s cut the pear in two, we say in France: Rugby is the right line: it is Football without protection and bad Gesto and soccer for the rapidity. But perhaps is it a little bit too fair for the US?

  • Pingback: Kevin Kelly - Football Superstar | Der Gretzer

  • http://www.i-bukmacher.pl Bukmacher

    American football is very boring, rugby is much better, nobody except americans watch american football

  • http://www.hedefkalite.com kalite

    mostly on the company dime), 3 hours of tailgating, and a few thousand extra calories a week.

  • http://www.hedefkalite.com/nedenkalite.html neden kalite

    Gesto and soccer for the rapidity. But perhaps is it a little bit too fair for the US

  • http://www.mysocceruniform.com/ Soccer Uniform

    Soccer is chocolate ice cream..
    Football is strawberry ice cream…
    Now make your choice!!!

  • Jim Knopf

    Jeff stated in his kick off comment in twitter why he think football (aka soccer) never took off in the US. And the ideas stated by him and everybody else here seem fair enough.

    But what about the other questions near at hand:

    1) Why has football never taken off in the rest of the world?

    1a) Why are a lot of other economies equally successfull in the world, despite the fact that almost no one plays US-style football there?

    2) If Jeff is right about his assumption (results vs. progress), what does this make of the fact that the world wide economic breakdown originated in and was caused by the US economic leadership and the way they do things?

  • Chris

    Soccer is more dynamic and flowing. Football requires more thinking and planning. Soccer is instinct, Football is intelligence.

  • http://www.dsfc.ch schweizer

    I really like soccer because the players have to make quick decisions during the game, but still in the beginning every team has a strategy how to play. I prefere soccer because every player needs to be able to do almost the same thing and in football there are a lot of different types of players. It is a mix like the US.

  • http://eplreplays.com Jonothan McCash

    All it takes is a breif look at a recent local derby between manchester united and manchester city to prove your point wrong. very few games finish in the stereotypical 0-0 draw.

    http://eplreplays.com/2009/09/20/man-utd-vs-man-city/

    Just take a look at that replay footage from the EPL (english premier league). Its a brilliant game with goals going back and forth like crazy, the ultimate winner in the closing seconds of the game. (ironically if the opposition didn’t spend so much time celebrating the equalizing goal, there wouldn’t have been enough time for them to get one better).

    Soccer is the worlds most popular sport before it involves a bit of everything.

  • http://bukmacher1x2.com.pl bukmacherzy

    Soccer is like a plane, it can take you 90 mins to get from one place to the other with no stops but gridiron is like the bus going to the same place cause they will have 40 or 100 spots before they get there, it will take over 4hrs to get there and every time you stop or have a break there is always a junk food store to buy something