Why Soccer Is the Greatest Sport On Earth
I wanted to talk about the state of soccer in America. No other sport illicits such negativity in the media. No other sport seems to generate such venom within the ranks of a few American journalists and sportscasters. No other sport uncovers the fear and ignorance of a select few who still have yet to see the light.
Let’s explore the facts and see if we can dispel the myths, and enlighten these towering juggernauts of intellect, the American sportswriter.
Firstly, we are 3 billion strong. More people in the world watch soccer by far more than any other sport. NFL has about 400 million fans worldwide. Baseball has about 250 million fans.
Secondly, if the writer has actually experienced the sport and understands it, and has lived it, and God forbid, actually tried playing it, he would realize, what the rest of the world does, that soccer is the most physically demanding, requires the most creativity, agility, overall skill and total athletic ability, more than any other sport by far. This is coming from someone who has played all sports in some organized manner, played high school varsity and college athletics and played two sports at the pro or semi pro level. I’m not knocking other sports which I know also take tremendous skill and ability to play at a high level, no matter what it is. I love all sports. But I know what it takes, from a sheer skill point of view, to play soccer…the only thing really coming close is MMA. This point will remain eternally debatable.
Thirdly, soccer is the most democratic sport on earth. Everyone on the playing field is equal. Everyone gets to touch the ball. Everyone can score, at any given time. Other American sports have a certain hierarchy where certain players are limited to certain tasks that restrict not only their function in the game but their overall playing time. So during the course of an entire game, which may last 3 hours or more, you have some players that may never touch the ball for the entire game. As a matter of fact, they may never touch the ball for a number of games. They may never touch the ball the whole season. This is what has always irked me about certain American sports – there is no equality of functions. Everyone is limited to his specialty task which swallows any creativity and joy of the game and reduces players’ positions to the functions of an automated machine rather than a creative individual playing within the confines of a team unit.
American media always complains about the lack of contact in soccer. If they would actually watch a game, especially a live game, they would see and understand that there are far more injuries, brutal, horrific injuries, and even deaths, in soccer, than any other sport. Soccer players don’t where helmets or pads. They only wear protection on their shins to keep from breaking their legs (which happens quite frequently anyway, even with the guards.). In soccer, you can kick, punch, elbow, trip, head-butt, tackle, push, hold, stomp, the opposing player and often not get called for it. This is just part of the standard flow of the game. Yes, often players overreact to falls or injuries, but this is only to generate a penalty against the opposing team and gain favor toward the win. I would challenge any reporter or sportswriter to find a local park kick-around and give it a try to not find any violent conduct. He is far more likely to get hurt or even annihilated playing soccer in a local park than he is at the beer league softball game or pick up basketball.
Soccer as a live sport and as one watched on TV in the U.S. has gained great strides in the last few years with the rise in popularity of MLS, bringing big name players to the states, and the greater access of matches on select cable stations. Five years ago I would be lucky to see a soccer game on TV. I would have to wait for the World Cup to see any matches. Now I have ample choices of games I can watch and tournaments that are covered. New stadiums are being planned and built, and current stadiums are seeing healthy crowd turn-outs, even in a depressed economy.
I understand that much of what motivates the American media when it comes to soccer is fear. They are scared of soccer. They are scared of soccer taking away the fan base of American sports. They are scared of lost advertising revenue because soccer is continuous play, without constant breaks for commercials.
My plea is, save the hate. There is already too much hatred in the world right now and often these reporters sound like the Taliban, wanting the American public to only believe what they believe and watch what they watch. As Americans, we distance ourselves even more from the rest of the world by spewing negativity, putting down other people and denouncing what they love and embrace.
If you don’t like soccer, don’t watch it. Don’t cover it. We don’t need you.
For some fans around the world and right here in America, soccer is joy and soccer is God. Don’t tell us our God doesn’t exist and we must believe in a different God. We don’t want to hear it.
For those who don’t know soccer and want to understand it better, watch the “NIKE: TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL” commercial on youtube.com