I can’t believe it, I actually enjoy watching soccer. After nearly 25 years of having interest in neither playing nor watching sports of any kind, recently I can’t get enough of soccer. What is most surprising to me is that out of all sports, soccer was the sport I had by far the least interest in. I can trace my change of opinion to the world cup in 2006. After watching so many matches I learned not only the rules but what to look for deciding if a team was playing well or badly. Below are some of the reasons why soccer is to me more interesting than some other sports.
1. In soccer there is the 90 minute clock that doesn’t stop. Even though there is lost time at the end of each half, it’s almost always 2 or 3 minutes. In, for example, basketball, the final official 2 minutes takes nearly 15 to play because the clock stops for free throws. During this time the game ceases to be one in which the players are playing basketball, but rather calculating when and who to foul. While there are free kicks and such in soccer, because only a few goals are scored each game the potential penalty of fouling someone is much greater.
2. Soccer is a team sport in which individuals players can make a difference. It takes a team of soccer players to get a ball down the field but it takes only one to score, and sometimes it takes only one to make the game much harder for the opposite team. You could perhaps say the same thing about the other football, that it takes only one player to get a touchdown, but in football many players are so tied to the positions they play that they never really get the opportunity to show their individual talents. Football players lack the ability to be spontaneous like soccer players.
3. Soccer is physical without having the field become a traffic jam. I read somewhere that a soccer player who plays the entire 90 minutes runs on average over 10 kilometers. Games like hockey and football, while certainly more physical than soccer in many ways, allow both teams a level of contact that often results in crowding on the field. The ball is no longer visible and the flow of the game is sacrificed. In soccer because the players cannot really touch each other the game tends to avoid piles of dead bodies.
4. Soccer’s rules don’t feel constructed, just get the ball in the other teams net as many times as possible. Of course the rules are more complicated than that, but the goal of the game doesn’t feel as contrived as say, baseball or cricket. I can imagine how some kid might someday, having never heard of soccer before, suddenly start playing a game very similar to soccer: try to get the ball past me and ill try to steal it from you and do the same. Baseball on the other hand, seems to be a game calculated down to the distance between bases. Not that this is bad, I just feel like I have to force myself to get excited about a baseball game while it happens naturally with soccer.
5. Soccer fans are fun. I went to my first soccer match the other day, a week after going to see a baseball game. In both games the fans were very energetic, but the soccer fans seemed not only to be supporting the players, but in someway participating in the game. Their songs, their clapping, their jumping in the stands, their occasional silence were all in response to the circumstances on the field. I’ve never seen anything like it. Of course there are the extreme cases in which fans get so into the game that they end up either hurting other people or causing property damage.
These are my reasons for liking soccer as opposed to other sports. Why the sudden interest in pro sports? Though I don’t know what exactly it is about the game that keeps me interested, I can say that I gave it a chance because after so many years of seeing what seemed like the rest of the world being get so excited about something I found utterly boring, I decided to find out what was so interesting.