Mark Schlereth: Indirect Commentary On Soccer

Update: You’re right.

Oops. My bad.

As I’ve mentioned before on TSG, the best part about this publication is the astute, well-thought-out replies that exist in the commentary section.

A number of good points in there today regarding this piece.

I do still maintain, despite the author not being as qualified and despite invoking soccer (both which he can be taken to task for), that Schlereth’s points on the “contact nature” of football as driving popularity are valid.


One of the things I preach in business and is a common business phrase is the question “What are you solving for?” I ask myself that when I write any piece. It’s important not necessarily to have a clear goal of what you want to get across (that comes out in the writing) but have, well, a grasp of what issue, point that “you are solving for?”

Failed miserably in this piece this morning. I took a piece that was a commentary on the NFL that wove a disparaging remark on soccer into it and used it as a basis for commentary on how the beautiful game is played.

My bad. I’ll chalk it up–incorrectly–to being up at 4am with the newborn who, despite being a baby girl, fairly looks like Carlos from the Hangover these days.


I put the video up below because it actually plays well if you’re a sports fan in general.

I love when people take a stand for what they believe in right or wrong.

Mark Schlereth rants on the NFL–calling it the National Hypocrite League–in this video and it’s a good one. He makes a one-word reference to soccer around the 3:30 mark, that taken out of context reads, “We’re selling videos! The reason why the NFL is popular? You take away the contact away guess what you are . You’re soccer. That’s (contact) why Americans love football.”

….and Schlereth is spot-on!

His rant is not a knock on soccer and by no means should be taken as such.

In fact, it’s accurate commentary on why soccer is a less popular sport in the United States because American’s appreciate contact. (Can you say MMA?)

Contact, in soccer, is huge part of the game….perhaps Schlereth doesn’t understand how much (that is a fair criticism of his statements here)…but it’s not the object of the game at all turns.

In fact, soccer is a beautiful game, in my mind, because it combines ferocious contact at times immediately juxtaposed against ballet-like grace.

Hockey is the only other game that has that beautiful dicotomy of play in the same range. It’s what makes both great.

9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by brian on 2010/10/21 at 6:44 AM

    this guys an idiot. “Contact, in soccer, is huge part of the game….perhaps Schlereth doesn’t understand how much” perhaps he shouldn’t make comments about stuff he doesn’t know. This guy clearly doesn’t know anything about soccer. I think alot of people did take this a knock on soccer, or at least it is continuing the stereo type in America that “soccer is for girls”. but everything else he says about the NFL is spot on.


  2. I don’t know Matt, I think this is an example of latent feminization of soccer spilling forth out of the mouth of someone arguing that narrowly-defined hypermasculinity (ie. violence) of NFL football is it’s main attraction. Other than that, I don’t think we should care any more what he thinks about soccer any more than if i were to voice a theory of what was wrong with the NFL. (Where do I begin?)


    • Posted by John on 2010/10/21 at 8:15 AM

      Schlereth is an Idiot.

      I’d rather see Ronaldo pretend to fall down 100 times in a row than see some 25 year old wide receiver go across the middle, get lit up by some juiced up Middle Line Backer, and wonder if we are watching Kyle Turley, Ted Johnson or any of the other athletes with severe cognitive issues.


      • Posted by John on 2010/10/21 at 8:35 AM

        BTW: The reason that I say Schlereth is an Idiot, is for the following reason.

        1: He bases his arguments in generalizations.

        “NFL fans like to watch contact” While this may be true, I doubt for one second that any NFL fan wants to watch kids get brain damage.

        2: He then accuses the NFL of hypocrisy for selling the “moment of impact video” when they want to ban hard hits (which is poor), and blames them for not giving him disability even though he can’t bend his knee naturally. Except somehow the fact that he can’t bend his knee naturally or the fact that he has health issues is directly attributable to the gladiatorial nature of the game. So he attempts to prop up his love of the game against the corporate NFL, but the game ITSELF crippled him to the point where he can’t bend his knee properly. If the game crippled him mentally to where he couldn’t remember his kids names or perhaps couldn’t stand because of vertigo, he might have a different opinion.

        3: Since he bases his arguments generally he gets to pander to the “scary idea” that the NFL is trying to take away the contact portion of the game. In doing this he wants to ignore players out there with concussions syndromes who cant remember their kids names or have severe mental problems. Players like Kyle Turley, Ted Johnson, Wayne Chrebet, Andre Waters, John Mackey, Mike Webster and the multitude of others.

        The NFL isn’t trying to eliminate hitting, they want to cut down on the stories coming out of brain research that shows kids getting severely mentally disabled from playing football. So they are probably hypocrites, but so is Schlereth.


        • Posted by zlionsfan on 2010/10/21 at 9:17 AM

          Yeah, I had a really hard time understanding why Steve Young would be arguing that head shots were somehow a part of the game. He might as well have said “Hey, they ended my career, but that’s how it goes!”

          For years and years, the NFL were actually hypocrites: they would make noise about player safety, but they rarely suspended anyone for illegal hits, and they had no qualms about talking up illegal hits, whether it was on network pregame or postgame shows or best-of videos.

          Now, they’re not only explaining why certain hits are very bad, but also working to get them out of the game. (I’ll believe the latter when I see stiff suspensions levied; I’m not sure a one-game suspension is enough for a first offense.)

          It’s sad in a way when the league has to work to protect players from themselves. Guys like James Harrison and Channing Crowder claim not to care about the consequences of tackling with their heads … and of course when they discover the long-term effects from which they’ll be suffering, it’ll be too late.

          I agree with what seems to be the consensus here, at least so far. We’re not asking for NFL games to be played like backyard touch football or for EPL matches to be played like five-year-old magnet ball. We’re asking for dangerous play to be taken out of the game, and for players who will only play dangerously to find another sport. Hard, legal hits will and should still happen, injuries will still happen, but deliberate injuries shouldn’t.


  3. Posted by Russell on 2010/10/21 at 7:46 AM

    I agree with the two above posts. Him calling out soccer here is the same as any high school football coach anywhere yelling at their player to go play a girl’s sport like soccer if they can’t take the hit. In my mind this and Rome’s comments are ignorance and thankfully a sentiment that has been eroding at a quicker clip in the past few years.

    That said, it’s interesting to hear this topic argued in football as well as football. This is the same argument that is occurring in the EPL regarding DeJong and the other leg breaking tackles. My opinion is Hard hits are a part of football but not head launching shots. As well, hard tackles are a part of soccer but anything reckless and dangerous has to be stamped out.


  4. Posted by Shane on 2010/10/21 at 8:55 AM

    I agree with most comments on here..

    P.S. in order for the NFL to be soccer they would have to constantly be on the pitch running, no commercials every 30 seconds, no breaks, just run run run..

    I’m surprised he can make the statement that NFL would be soccer without contact.. The two sports are completely different, and honestly it was a jab at soccer, i.e. Girls sport / no contact.. He’s an idiot.


  5. Posted by kaya on 2010/10/21 at 2:20 PM

    Video link is gone, but yikes, Matt. Sounds like lack of sleep is bringing out the WWF in you =)
    At first I read “take the con*r*act out of football” and was stymied. LOL.
    I used to be an (american) football fan when I was 10 or so… I can still sit down and enjoy a college game and enjoy all the pageantry, ceremony, rivalry, etc (whereas I can’t bring myself to watch baseball), but the gladiator nature of the game, enhanced these days thanks to HD, is honestly a turnoff.
    Especially when we now have so much evidence of how many of these guys in the NFL might as well be subjecting themselves to IEDs in Iraq on a regular basis given all the brain injuries, these kinds of statements are pretty tough to condone.


    • Posted by kaya on 2010/10/21 at 2:30 PM

      I don’t mean to sound like the NFL’s answer to PETA for the meatpacking industry… the sport is what it is. It’s just that that dig at soccer annoys me given what I think of the majority of “athleticism” required in *that* football.


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