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The United States of Soccer

Posted by Parks on June 21, 2013 at 5:20 PM

The term "Football" means something completely different to our European cousins then it does to us Americans.  To most Americans "Football" conjures up images of brown, red, and yellow leaves falling around children as they play with a brown, eggshaped ball; their drunken fathers arguing about which team they like, the "complete horse shit" pass interfernce call or simply whose wife has the biggest rack over a set of burgers and hot dogs that are delicately burning on the grill.  It is the perfect sport for us Americans because it contains all of the violence and drama we as Americans expect from our weekend entertainment.  However, this begs the question: Why do Americans hate European Football so much even when fundamentally it and American Football are very similar?

The answer is simply this: Action.  Americans believe The Beautiful game is a boring, silly competition played by pussies who fall over with a slight bump and who almost never score.  What most Americans lack when watching soccer is the ability to understand why it is exciting.  It wouldn't be the first time we as a country couldn't understand what our European bretheren were talking about *cough* Metric System *cough*.  In American Football, the action is delivered by massive hits, expertly constructed plays, moments of pure genius and skill by individual athletes, and epic moments such as Desmond Howard's "Hello Heisman" run against Notre Dame in 1991 or Doug Flutie's "Miracle in Miami" in 1984.  What most Americans don't realize is that these are the same reasons people get excited by soccer games.  

Soccer's soul comes from dramatic moments like the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final where Liverpool overcame a 3-0 deficite against AC Milan to tie it up at 3-3 and then went on to win in penalties or Manchester City's dramatic season winning goal from Sergio Agüero in the dying moments of the final game of the season to draw even on points with Manchester United who lost the season on goal difference (which hurt a lot from a Man United fan's perspective).  These kind of moments come every season; there is no such as a boring soccer season.  There is also no shortage of magnificent athletes being magnificent.  It doesn't take the perfect athlete to do something awesome in soccer with the best player in the world being a 5'7, 148 lb man from Argentina, epic moments can come from everywhere and anywhere.

In addition to being (in my opinion) the most dramatic sport in the world, it is also the most diverse.  There is a reason that it's the worlds most popular sport (not my opinon, fact).  Its fairly simple to play, setup, understand and can be extremely fun if done right.  It also incoporates the violence factor that we as Americans crave.  Tackling is much different than our American Football style of giving the guy with the ball a bear hug, it involves taking their feet out from underthem or headbutting them while the ball is in mid-air, which can result in much more violent clashes than tackles in American Football.  However, like in American Football, the goal is not to hurt the other player, but cause them to loose the ball and turn possesion over.  The rule that many 'Muricans don't like about the soccer system of tackling is that if the player makes contact with the player before touching the ball, it is a foul and potentially a booking.  This where the infamous curse of diving comes into play.

One of the most common misconceptions about soccer is that those who play the beautiful game, especially those of South American origin, have bones made of glass and dive about like dolphins.  I'd be lying if I wrote that there wasn't a diving problem in soccer but it is a small group of players who flop and those who do are looked down upon by their fellow players.  Despite this, diving still causes problems, just ask Spain's national team who flop about like beached fish whenever they are dispossesed of the ball regardless if they were tackled harshly or if the tackle was clean.  However diving is not the primary thing Americans associate with The Beautiful game, the lack of scoring is.

Many people who complain about how soccer is boring state the number one reason for it being boring is that goals are few and far between and somethimes never even happen.  While everyone who watches soccer hates 0-0 draws, there isn't a lack of scoring, it just seems like there isn't much scoring compared to sports like American Football or Basketball.  However, because goals are so hard to score, they become incredibly important.  A single basket in Basketball by itself isn't very important and rarely decides a game, but a single goal more than often decides a match and can mean so much more than just scoring.  A goal can mean safety from relegation, it can mean victory over a bitter rival, it can win a nations love, admiration and affection or cause them to hate, despise and detest one's name.  It is much the same as Hockey in that because goals are not scored all that often, it casues tension and that can be just as exciting as watching a long pass fly through the air towards a waiting reciever running towards the endzone.

Soccer has been around since before our version of "Football" came into creation and is showing no signs of leaving.  Americans need to learn to accept soccer for all it has to offer.  Once they can do that, they can enjoy it's magic like the rest of the world can.  It may have faults, cheaters, silly rules and horrible calls, but all of those things are thrown out the window when one realizes how much good can come from this simple little game.  Soccer can change peoples lives, it can give a nation hope, it can be a stage for anyone to stand up and perform on.  All of the heartbreaking moments, all of the comeback wins, all of the 90th minute goals, all of the stories of players overcoming adverstiy, they are the reasons why The Beautiful Game is so beautiful.

(Photo courtsey of http://juventiknows.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Balotelli-Im-Hulk-celebration_GERMANY2.jpg)

Categories: Soccer

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1 Comment

Reply Halbridious
5:58 AM on June 22, 2013 
You almost make me want to like soccer. Almost. Gotta respect the athlete's though - field is like, 2.5x that of a Football field and they run all over the darn thing for 100 straight minutes without any real breaks.