I am a soccer convert. Born in the South and raised on American football, in my case basketball, for me soccer was game played by disorganized groups of children who kick a small white ball back and forth until someone signals that the game is at an end. I had never played the game, and based on a few short snippets of games I saw on TV. I wasn’t impressed. Like many Americans I didn’t understand the game and I harbored the strong impression that these low scoring affairs were very boring.
However, they say that you should never be too old to begin to enjoy new things. In the last few years I became intrigued with the devotion and passion the game inspired in other most other countries making futball the most popular sport in the world. It occurred to me that a game which can stir the blood of people around the globe couldn’t be as boring as I presumed.
I started to attend an occasional college game played by alma mater both out of curiosity and a desire to support my favorite school. Like many Americans I knew nothing of the game except the objective is to use some part of the body except the arms and hands to drive the ball into the goal. However, unlike American football and basketball whose rule books are massive, the rules of soccer were simple and very easy to pick up.
I soon learned the excitement generated by the game lay not only scoring, though a 3-2 soccer score is exactly equivalent to a 21-14 football game. For every score there are usually numerous attempts on goal which are foiled by a slightly errant kick or header, a great defensive play close to the goal, or a diving goal keeper who deflects the ball just over the top or to theside of the goal. Excitement is also generated by the perfect tackle or the perfect pass to a player running free down field. Then there is teamwork, skill and artistry displayed by truly gifted athletes which is truly amazing to watch.
Yet many millions of American sports fans can’t be bothered to watch a “boring” game of football (as the game is known everywhere but here), even when the American team is playing well in the World Cup. They will live their whole lives believing they are not missing a thing. However, if they had just learned a bit about the game and then mustered up enough patriotic spirit to watch the USA play two fantastic World Cup games against Ghana and then Portugal, they have would come to understand that soccer is anything but boring. But there is still time, Germany is up next and then, hopefully several more games in the World Cup.