The beautiful game
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The game we refer to as soccer is played just about everywhere in the world. Wherever – there are people, there is soccer, almost without exception. However, in our sports crazed, highly developed United States, the game seems to be missing and is low on the popularity list. There are many possible reasons and causes, but no matter the reason, much of the US is missing out on the beautiful game.
We like things to be big in America. Fans attend professional sports events to gawk at the sheer size of professional athletes when they are compared to everyday people. The standard build for an NFL linemen is about 6’5” and 300 lbs. It is commonplace at an NBA game to see a seven foot tall man. The spectacle of beholding a player’s physical size regardless of skill seems very American to me. While they obviously aren’t bad at their sport by any means, they receive a lot more attention and fame for an aspect they can’t control and one that takes no work. Celtics player Isaiah Thomas puts up numbers on a nightly basis that make him a sure superstar; however experts are still hesitant to call him one because he is 5’9”. But, back to soccer. The best player in the world, Lionel Messi, is 5’7”. He is respected for his skill and knowledge of the game, both attributes he was not given, but had to work for. Many other superstars are undersized as well, and for the average American fan, this makes them believe anyone can do what they do, an incredible misconception.
Another complaint people have about the game is that there is not enough scoring. “When your sport fails to notch as many points as a baseball game, there is a serious problem” (Bleacher Report). I agree there is not an abundance of goals scored each match, but the artistry is more about the buildup. The goals are just that much more special when they do find the back of the net. “Joga Bonito,” a term coined by Pelé, means “the beautiful game.” It refers to the smooth, flowing play that results in a score as well as the precision and grace with which the game is played. Before I started playing soccer, I found watching a full match boring, but after starting, I was really able to appreciate the techniques being used and skill involved. “I love the free-flowing nature of soccer. Possessing the ball through the midfield is a form of art,” quoted Dale Jacobs ‘19.
Possibly the biggest reason soccer isn’t more popular in the states is that our men’s team isn’t the best in the world. Americans love to win, and we are the best at football, basketball, and debatably the best at hockey and baseball. However, with an impressive performance in the 2014 World Cup, things are looking up for US Soccer.