Soccer is better than football.
Yeah, you read that right.
First off, the name. Soccer, or football as it is known outside America, actually involves using one's feet. Apart from an occasional kick-off, punt, or field goal, American football does not. Football should be called "StaticBall" because so much of every game is spent not doing anything.
That's one reason soccer is more enjoyable to watch.
While football is clearly more popular in the United States than soccer, that reality is largely driven by cultural experience. Because Americans grow up watching and playing football, they are more predisposed to football. But were an objective party to view both sports, I believe they would find soccer the more enjoyable.
Consider what an alien species might think were they to view an NFL game and a match from England's soccer premier league.
Watching the NFL game, the aliens would likely become immediately frustrated by football's dependence on pauses. Sure, the aliens would understand that the pauses were for planning purposes. But they would also quickly find them tedious. If sports are supposed to be entertaining, inaction is problematic.
Speed, however, is exciting.
And while football has its moments of exciting speed and unpredictability, those are few are far between. Conversely, soccer is defined by speed. Yes, too many soccer players play dead after being tackled. Although that problem is being redressed by increased punishments, it remains a problem. Yet for each 90-minute soccer game, the collective pauses born of injuries (or fake injuries) normally amount to about 5-8 minutes.
NFL games are 60 minutes long, but take 180 to 220 minutes to complete. That proportion of playing time and dead time is a joke. Even the tension that builds in those off-moments, which makes them more bearable, doesn't make up for the sheer amount of inactivity with which every football game is filled.
Finally, there's the athleticism question. Look at the average football player. Look at the average soccer player. Most football players are chubby. Most soccer players look like they run around a lot.
This distinction doesn't matter when it comes to TV, but it does matter in its reflection for the broader fitness levels each sport produces.
And that matters because, as a society, we are getting fatter. As Ricky Gervais notes, this is nothing to be proud of. Individual obesity is a burden on society. Fueling an exacerbation of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, it raises the costs of healthcare.
As an extension, it makes sense for societies such ours to promote sports that serve individual fitness. Doing so will improve the nation's health.
And soccer is far superior to football in its service of fitness.
After all, where football players spend most of their time in static positions, soccer players are nearly always on the move. With Harvard assessing that obesity costs us around $190 billion a year in health expenses, we should jump at any opportunity to shed some pounds.
Of course, I am well aware that my views here are antithetical to the American consensus. I also respect folks like my good friend, AJ Price, who chose to play football because they prefer it.
But judged objectively, soccer is just a better sport.