MVP Sports Channel

Blog: Soccer in America?

It was just last night that a friend of mine asserted that soccer is in fact a communist plot to destroy America. And hey, I’ve seen Red Dawn, so there’s not too much I’d put past the sneaky buggers. But now comes the moment when the grumpy old fan might surprise one or two of his three devoted readers. I actually like soccer. I like soccer a lot. I like soccer when its played by men and I like soccer when its played by women. I like the World Cup, and I like Olympic soccer. (end Dr. Seuss mode) This format of international competition is usually compelling. During the Winter Olympics, for example, I might even be drawn in to watching something like bobsledding. Of course, I have no particular interest in bobsledding, but watching nations compete in athletic events has a certain old fashioned, nationalistic, pre-multiculturalist feel to it that I can appreciate.

But there is something more about soccer, something intrinsic to soccer, that I find wonderful and compelling all on its own. I suppose its the pacing, the tension, the slow unfolding of events. I like that soccer scores are low. I like that each score is a monumental event, worthy of celebration as its own achievement. Every cross, every penetrating drive into opposition territory, every chance just might be that chance. Each moment is allowed to be its own moment of drama. I love the patience involved in launching a consistent and effective attack. The schooling motion of play, drifting forward and backward as circumstances require, is a thing of beauty. And soccer truly is a beautiful game.

Like every sport, soccer has its flaws. Chief among them is ‘the dive’. Like ‘the flop’ in basketball, its a demonstration of terrible sportsmanship, an act that can mar a competition and places the official in the difficult spot of determining the authenticity of a collision. Soccer needs to clean this up. The diving of Spaniard, Andres Iniesta, was instrumental in his country’s World Cup victory in 2010, and the Italians have also been renowned for their acting skills, as well as their skills on the pitch. FIFA, the international soccer body, has to place greater emphasis on red carding players who have blatantly flopped. I would contend that the dirtiest tackle from behind is not as bad for the sport as ‘the dive’ and it really must be eliminated.

Each sport has its own set of challenges and plagues. In this sense, soccer is no exception. But it also has its merits. Soccer can be played anywhere. It doesn’t require money, pads, sticks, or even a proper ball. It can be played on any field or even where there is no field. It demands tremendous levels of endurance and requires great team work in order to produce success. Hey, this is starting to sound a little bit like a communist plot! So maybe my friend had a point after all.

 

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