Chait Bait: World Cup as Popular as World Series.

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Over at The Plank, the otherwise reasonable Jon Chait just can't stop hatin' -- hating soccer, that is, in a series of dyspeptic complaints about soccer evangelists in the United States emerging from their four-year hibernation to extol the virtues of the beautiful game and hail America's proud tradition of getting beat by Ghana 2-1 in increasingly important rounds. (Next time, we'll lose in the quarterfinals. USA! USA!)

Chait protests too much, since if he's right that Americans don't care about soccer, why must he go out of his way to demean the sport?* If no one likes it, that ought to be self-evident. Perhaps it's just an adverse reaction to his colleagues' soccer mania. Or pain caused by the recent lackluster performance of his beloved alma mater?

In any case, I hope Chait will weigh in on this critical fact: As many people watched the U.S.-Ghana Round of 16 match as did the average World Series game last year. America's pastime, no less. And the soccer game was at 2:30 in the afternoon, not in primetime. There was, apparently, a 38 percent increase in men 18 to 49 watching the cup.

What intricate argument can be brought against these numbers? Tom Scocca blames Fox for making baseball boring to watch, but what they've done -- playing games at night, have a lot of commercials, etc. -- have been characteristic of baseball for a long time. If you care about baseball, you're going to watch the World Series whether or not the games are long. Why not just admit it, soccer critics: Futbol is coming of age in America.

-- Tim Fernholz

*As you might guess from the comments, I had an inaccurate Shakespeare allusion in this sentence. Tsk tsk

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