clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

12 things the US does worse than soccer

U.S. national champion weight lifter Shane Hamman demonstrates his phenomenal vertical leap in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Nov. 1, 1999.
U.S. national champion weight lifter Shane Hamman demonstrates his phenomenal vertical leap in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Nov. 1, 1999.
Joe McNally/Getty

According to FIFA, the US ranks 13 in the world when it comes to men's soccer. That's right: we're not number one. This is often treated as something of a national scandal. "Shouldn't the United States be better at soccer?" asks CNN.

Of course, there are plenty of things the US is exceptional at. We have the biggest economy on earth, and the largest military by far. We're first in the world at putting people in jail, sleeping with pets, and being obese. At the same time, it turns out that we're kind of bad at certain things, too — things that, well, we shouldn't really be bad at. Things that are even a bigger problem than being mediocre at soccer.

Here's a list of stuff we do a lot worse than soccer. (The following rankings have been collected from several different studies and organizations, all of whom have their own methods. This list isn't meant to imply any correlation between any of the items.)

Out of 23 countries, the US was ranked 16 for literacy and 21 for math skills, according to a 2013 study.

The 2013 World Press Freedom Index ranked the US 32 out of 179 countries in terms of "the attitudes and intentions of governments towards media freedom."

Out of 29 countries, UNICEF concluded that the US ranked at 26 for child wellbeing.

In terms of peacefulness, the US is 99 out of 161 countries, according to the latest Global Peace Index.

Turns out, Americans trust their current President less than the rest of the world does. When it comes to confidence in Obama, 16 countries outrank us.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the US came in 26th place for life expectancy.

For the country that invented the internet, we basically suck at download speed — 30 out of 192!

In terms of gender equality, the US still has some work to. A 2013 global report from the World Economic Forum found that 22 other countries are ahead of us when it comes to closing the "relative gaps between women and men … across four key areas: health, education, economics and politics."

When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale of 1-10, most Americans put it at 7, which lands the US in spot number 17 out of the 36 countries surveyed.

When it comes to work/life balance, US workers could benefit from some scale-tipping. Out of the 36 countries the OECD studied, the US came in at 26.

'Murica: where everyone claims to vote, but not everyone has the sticker to prove it. In terms of voter turnout, the US ranks 120 out of the 169 countries for which voter data exists.

A 2014 estimate from the CIA World Factbook claims that the fertility rate for US women is 2.01, putting us at 123 of the 224 countries ranked.

Icon design: Adam Baumgartner

Update: An original version of this article misstated the number of teams included in FIFA's world ranking. In fact, there are over 200 soccer teams included in the ranking.