Why do Americans sometimes overrate their Soccer Players?

alt Aug, 2 2023

Prodigy or Overdone Praise?

Let's kick this off with a musing, shall we? A question that often dances around in my mind as much as my border collie, Oscar, likes to spin in circles chasing his own tail. The enchanting spectacle that is American soccer or more specifically, why do we, as Americans, tend to overrate our own soccer players? Now before you light your torches and hunt me down, let me take you on a journey of exploration, where we will dissect this apparent conundrum from multiple angles. Believe me, it's as gripping as binging on your favorite Netflix series, except with more interesting twists!

The Idolatry of American Talent

In the grand glitz and glam of the global soccer stage, we Americans have unmistakably left our footprint. Names such as Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, and more recently, Christian Pulisic, have been hailed as the shining beacon of American soccer. Every dribble lauded, every miss analyzed, every goal celebrated. But, let's hit pause for a moment, shall we? While there's no denying the immense talent these players showcase, do we perhaps celebrate a tad much? Perhaps so.

Think of it like serving your partner breakfast in bed for simply waking up. Nice gesture? Sure. Overdoing it? Most likely. Besides, Oscar, who is quite the foodie, would be devastated if I were to treat him similarly! Jokes aside, we often confuse potential with performance in our homegrown players. We make them out as the football equivalent of Sun Tzus when they're probably more akin to ambitious knights at best. It’s not a bad thing, by the way, as striving for greatness often leads to it!

The Winds of Comparison

Where would we be without comparison, right? It's as inherent to us as throwing frisbees for Oscar to fetch. However, the gusts of faulty comparisons might be a significant factor behind this overrating phenomenon. How so? Well, imagine this – comparing a high-school senior releasing the kraken of kicks in his local school league to Lionel Messi because they both are excellent at dribbling the ball. Sounds preposterous? It happens with more frequency than you'd believe!

Truth is, our league and the European leagues still have disparities. The tumultuous storms, the fiery rivalries, and the sheer level of competition overseas are a world away from our local intensity. While our players may shine bright in our domestic leagues, putting them prematurely on the pedestal of world-renowned stars might be an overstretch. I mean, I don't place Oscar up in the ranks of Lassie just because he can fetch, do I?

Hype Train to Fantasyland

Shall we tread on the tracks of hype next? Hype, while an incredible boost of morale, can equally function as a double-edged sword of expectations and disappointments. Unfortunately, in our crusade to place our soccer players on an international pedestal, we misconstrue hype for reality. As hard as it is to admit, our players, although talented, are still in the exciting phase of evolution. They're on the journey to being world-class, but they're not quite there yet. Think of them like the young Frodo Baggins, just embarking on his journey to Mount Doom. He's got potential, yes, but he's got a long road ahead before he can cast the ring into the fire!

The problem doesn't lay with our players, though. I mean, it's not Oscar's fault if I hang a signboard on him declaring him the next Rin Tin Tin. It's our perception that needs calibration. We need to see our talents for what they are – bright, promising, but still battling to reach the zenith.

Conclusion: Finding Balance Between Pride and Proximity

Wrapping this up like the last episode of a thrilling mini-series, what's the bottom line here? Building up our players, supporting them, yes, even hyping them is part of the job. It's the fuel to their fiery ambition. But, tempering excitement with a dash of realism can prevent the burning out of talent and the inevitable crash of overblown expectations.

We can proudly chant the names of our players resonating through the stadium, but let's also remember they are on their path to greatness. It's far more fulfilling, after all, to watch a player grow into a legend rather than prematurely christening them as one. I can vouch for this with an amusing story about Oscar. You see, when I first got him, in my excitement, I declared him the champion fetcher of our neighborhood. Oh boy, did reality kick in fast! Our initial boisterous games often ended up with the frisbee remaining un-fetch and Oscar chasing squirrels instead. But today, after much training, he’s a fetching pro, and the joy of seeing him grow and evolve – priceless!

Let's nurture our soccer talents, guide them like wise mentors, cheer for them like the most ardent fans, but let's not overrate them. Let's give them the leeway to fail, to struggle, and to blossom at their own pace. We might not have Messi or Ronaldo today, but who knows what the future holds? Maybe the real American soccer prodigy is still out there, tying his shoelaces tight, pugnaciously clenching his jaws, and kicking the ball in his backyard, ready to become the legend we are waiting for.