US writer and political commentator Ann Coulter caused quite a stir this week when she hated on ‘soccer’ (read article here). The Cutter’s Matt Tilby responds in kind.

Dear Ms. Coulter,

My name is Matt Tilby. I am 21 years old and I have been playing soccer in some capacity for the last 11 years. Although I live in Australia, I take a keen interest in the sport that, just a few days ago, you so bluntly and ferociously targeted.

It’s not hard to be invested in the matter. In the past 2 weeks I’m sure you’ve seen the thousands of your fellow Americans roaming the streets, clad in red, white and blue. With flags in hand, they belt out your country’s national anthem with enough gusto that it drowns out the playing of the anthem itself. All of this for a game which, you claimed, if taken an interest in, would show “a sign of the nation’s moral decay”.

How delightful.

I know I may never get you to see this letter, let alone read it. I could very easily use this letter to go on the offensive; to berate you in a spray of words which shouldn’t be published. But I won’t, because not only would that be classless and undignified, but I would be letting you get what you want – hits for your website, and most importantly attention.

What I will be using this letter for, is to respond. In your attempt to knock your fellow soccer-loving people down a peg – even going so far as to sarcastically describe them as “New Americans” – you have compiled a list of reasons why you believe the sport is damaging to your personal gain.

Before I begin my response, even though more and more people in my country are calling the game football, I will gladly refer to the game in question – the one in which you use only your feet – as soccer. I know it would confuse you if you had to do too much thinking, so I’ll save you the pain.

“Individual achievement is not a big factor in soccer… But there’s also individual glory in home runs, touchdowns and slam-dunks”

There’s plenty of individual glory in scoring a goal, as just one man scores it, as I’m sure you’re well aware. It can come in so many different ways too – Open play, from a free kick, a corner, even a penalty. The penalty kick is the most individual thing you can do in the game, and it can decide a game. They have decided FIFA World Cups on multiple occasions. Since when has a Superbowl or an NBA Finals been decided on an individual effort?

“Do they even have MVPs in soccer?”

If you googled Cristiano Ronaldo or Leo Messi, you’d see that yes, there are “MVP”s in soccer.

“In soccer, the women’s games are as thrilling as the men’s.”

Not only are your sarcastic comments blatantly misogynistic, but they’re also ignorant. The fact that if a women’s soccer game was, at the time, the highest watched game in the US would show there’s a fair amount of interest in women’s soccer, don’t you think? This is in 1999 as well, a time when interest in soccer in the United States was very much in its infancy.

“Liberal moms like soccer because it’s a sport in which athletic talent finds so little expression that girls can play with boys. No serious sport is co-ed, even at the kindergarten level.”

No “serious” sport also ranks higher in the amount of child participation than soccer. FIFA’s study on the subject in 2007 showed that there were 24.5 million kids in the United States playing soccer. While this is only second to Basketball, both are safe and rarely see the risk of major injuries. Plus Basketball can be played inside, so it gets a free pass on that one. Football is nowhere to be seen.

In addition, by the time children are reaching the ages of 13-15, genders are divided anyway. It’s only when children are beginning their experience in soccer when they usually get to play with the other gender.

US fans celebrate the Americans’ victory over Ghana.

“Soccer is not “catching on.” Run-of-the-mill, regular-season Sunday Night Football games average more than 20 million viewers…”

Where are you pulling these outrageous statistics from? A search for viewing figures shows that the highest average viewership for a SNF game is 10.8 million people – just about half of what you managed to pull out of thin air – and even then, that margin is down almost 10% from last season.

The match you mentioned, United States vs. Portugal, drew in just under 25 million viewers. That’s significantly more than the average figure for the NBA Finals (14.9 million) or the World Series (15 million) . Still not convinced? The US game drew the same amount of viewers as the 2010 World Cup Final. That was 4 years ago, imagine the viewership for the game on July 13.

“It’s foreign.”

Sure. Soccer is foreign, but so is Baseball. It was first played in England, and is now Japan’s most popular sport. Incidentally, would a sport as “foreign” as soccer have someone as wholesome, heart-warming and ridiculously American as Hulk Hogan marketing it?

I hope, just once in your life, you get offered a ticket to a New York Red Bulls or New York Cosmos game, because it’s not just about the game itself, it’s about the experience. The noise that the fans make is unlike anything I have ever seen in a sporting competition. Even if we get those nil-all draws you keep complaining about, there’s more than enough interaction occurring in the stands to keep you occupied. It sure beats the drone of a “Go Giants Go” chant lifelessly seeping around Metlife Stadium.

And my final point, to bring it all full circle…

“Any growing interest in soccer can only be a sign of the nation’s moral decay.”

Considering you admit you haven’t written about the game in a decade, you clearly were interested enough to start writing about it again and produce your laughable attempt at what I can only assume is satire. Thus, you must be part of this moral decay you speak so constantly of. Congratulations!

I’ll admit, I have friends in the US who do agree that the game is boring, but they have used more intelligent and respectful ways of informing me so. You, on the other hand, have forced your opinions down our throats and attacked the game that a surprising amount of people in your country love. While your views on soccer in the United States are misogynistic, racist, self-centred and ignorant, they are your views. Everyone is entitled to them, Ann. It’s just a shame that yours are so awful.

It also could have helped if you had given some accuracy to back up your blatant disregard for one of the fastest growing sports in your country. Soccer may not have “caught on” in the United States yet, but it is damn near close to doing so. And there isn’t much you can do about it. Just sit back and enjoy.


Matt Tilby