Of course, I’m looking through my own eyes.
One fellow, on Fox News, was talking about the “problems” with soccer. Immediately, I knew what was coming. Like many, he didn’t like the low scoring games, and I imagine, other aspects. I decided this is a good time to address the game from one person’s perspective.
Like many of my peers, I grew up playing street football and backyard baseball, among all the other adventures and games we played, none the least was my favorite: tree tag. And though I had some awareness of soccer, as there never were any real games in our neighborhood, to me it was just another game. As such, I had no real understanding of the game.
Fast forward. I’m a school teacher when a fellow stops by and asks me to coach soccer. Having absolutely no experience, I decide to coach one year. And though I watched a few games on television, borrowed a couple books on the subject, asking a couple players for tips, I know I did a horrible job back when. After the second season, I knew I had to do something different if the teams I picked were going to have a chance. I couldn’t put another 15 players through these losing seasons anymore.
So, I read books, studied training methods and game play, went to local games, watched it on television, and listened whenever anyone was discussing soccer. And my eyes continued to grow larger. I began to understand more and more the dynamics of the game. I began to understand the player positions, methods of defense and offense, and how all they all work together. Thankfully, during the next eight years, our teams improved, twice being in the top two, and I knew I still had much to learn.
The reason the fellow on Fox News doesn’t like the game is he didn’t grow up playing soccer. He didn’t grow up in a city or town where everyone plays soccer. It’s a mindset. Soccer has a deep history. It’s played all over the world. And it’s one of the few world-wide games anyone can play if they have one ball: any ball. And to do well takes a ton of practice and skill.
The reason players “celebrate” so much when they score one point is exactly because it’s so difficult to score a point. That’s the game. 11 players try to kick a ball past the defender, and a goalie who can use his hands, while preventing the other team from any points. And every single player has a position to play within the scheme of the entire team, which never stops, the part I like the best. Except during penalties and injuries…, and half-time.
All eleven players are important. If even one player isn’t on their game that day, that one player often costs the game. To those just starting to watch, notice how all the players are constantly moving around. That’s because, during the game, position is everything. In other words, if one player is standing in the wrong position, even a few feet off, that’s all a good opponent needs. And the skills required to play at the World Cup level is daunting. Few will ever get that far.
**I’ve wondered why not make the basketball hoop higher and smaller so far less points are scored. Put the hoop fifteen feet above the ground such that slam dunks are rare, shrink the size so a ball barely fits through, and then the fans will more appreciate each and every score.
**In football, decrease the width of the field to 40 yards, allow defenders to hand-fight the receivers more, and allow very hard hits on anyone attempting to catch a pass…. Also on quarterbacks. No defenseless positions. Of course, no hitting with the crown of the helmet. But you don’t want to get hit, don’t catch the ball or throw late in the down. Also, make the ball less aerial, less easy to throw (Use those rugby balls), and lengthen the yards for a first down (or allow only three downs per series), and then the fans will appreciate every touchdown.
**Why I like soccer more than football, basketball, and baseball is the non-stop action, the skills levels required for each position, and the incredible dynamics of game-play with well-coached teams. And when someone does score on a very good team, we know the hard work, and often luck, necessary, but also the preparation and years spent. Some players were already knocking the soccer ball around before they could walk, and many learned to kick the ball the same year they began walking. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a tradition. And it takes a ton of work to reach the top.
Any team who wins the FIFA World Cup did so through hard work and determination.