ACSTL opens the 2010 USSF/Div 2 season in 30 days on the road in Carolina. The players are preparing for their preseason matches with the Kansas City Wizards on March 20 in Kansas City and April 3 at AB Soccer Park. The schedule is out, tickets are being sold and the number of ACSTL Facebook fans has exceeded 13,000. Although Dave Trotter wrote an interesting article about his meetings with NASL and club officials in Miami, generally news has been a little slow. Thus I thought it’d be fun to take a time out and discuss why we love this game variously referred to as soccer, football or futbol. In this post, we’ll discuss five reasons, in no particular order of importance, why the beautiful game has so much appeal. Please feel free to add your thoughts about the game we love in the comments section. Part 2 will come along in a few days.
Ten Reasons (Part One)
10. Freedom of Expression: Unlike football, baseball,hockey players and jockeys, soccer players don’t wear helmets, headgear or caps. Thus, soccer players are free to express themselves as to the way they wear their hair. And some individuals take freedom of expression to the max. Bolton’s Gavin McCann (the skunk hairdo) and former LA Galaxy backliner’s Abel Xavier (the dyed-white hair-goatee combo) are prominent free thinkers. But FIFA Hair Hall of Fame props go to Frenchman Djibril Cisse and Mr. Posh, David Beckham, who are never seen with the same style in two consecutive games. If we followed the example of these style leaders, barber shops and hair salons would lead our nation to economic recovery.
9. We Don’t Have to Pardon the interruption: Ok, I’m going to admit this. I watch a lot of football, basketball, hockey and baseball games, and have been known to watch an occasional horse race, Canadian football, poker, a few car races, and a spelling bee or two. But only the beautiful game protects us from the constant interruption of commercials breaking up the on the field action. How many times, in the course of an NFL or MLB or NHL season, can you watch the same same same commercials over and over and over. And not only does the home viewer suffer. I’ve been to enough Blues games, where the contest is heating up and the players are flying, and then, oops, we fans have to sit and wait while a commercial airs. And going back to those (mostly) hapless and hopeless Big Red games, freezing in another December lost cause while the action stops so the fans at home can figure out which brand of beer to buy? Ugh. Give me two halves, 45 plus minutes each, of commercial free action.
8. Games are Short: The game, from kickoff to end, with a halftime intermission, basically is two hours or less. To watch a football or baseball game in its entirety, one has to block out at least 3 hours (unless it’s the last game of the season between two baseball losers — those games can somehow can be played in 2 hours). By being a soccer devotee, you save an hour a game. Talk about the one minute manager. The beautiful game GIVES you an extra hour to clean the gutters, rake leaves, cut grass, talk to your wife and play with your kids. Or, if you must, you are free to watch another soccer game.
7. Players are Short: Soccer players come in all shapes and sizes, but don’t tell me about NBA’ers Muggsy Bogues and Spud Webb, former KC Royal Freddie Patek or the Chief’s 1960s kick returner, Walter “Super Gnat”Smith. They were all good and exciting players. But Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is 5’6″ and he is a legend at age 22. I was 5’8″ and weighed 130 as a freshman in high school, and I’ve always rooted for the little guy. And I’m still 5’8” 40 years later.
6. Ties, Draws and Other Non-Wins (or Non-Losses): Many Americans have disdain for the beautiful game because, often enough, the game ends up in a draw, 2-2, 1-1, or most horribly, 0-0. Oh, the humanity. Isn’t it ironic, in a great nation based on the ideal of equality, that, after 90 minutes of struggle, some of our fellow citizens are dismayed that two squads are found to be……equal? As a champion of the downtrodden, a tie is as good as a win for those teams grasping to reach mediocrity, and a slap in the face to the rich, powerful and arrogant Real Madrids and Manchester Uniteds of the world who exist to crush our beloved minnows.