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10 Reasons Why the Beautiful Game is Beautiful (Part 2)

The following is the second part of a list of 10 reasons why the game of soccer is beautiful.  Of course, every individual will have their own reasons why they treasure the game.  We welcome the chance to hear your reasons why this game variously known as soccer, football or futbol appeals to you.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

5. Pregame and Postgame Rituals:  Every sport has its pregame rituals (such as baseball managers or coaches handing in their lineup cards and talking to the umpires at home plate).  The beautiful game has some unique rituals that I find especially endearing.  The tradition of children accompanying the players, hand in hand, onto the field prior to the game is awesome.  Imagine what a thrill it would be to be 10 years old walking, hand in hand, with your heroes in front of the whole crowd onto the field.  Unforgettable.  I also like the players shaking hands before the game with the refs and the opposing team and lining up for team photos.  After the game, the exchange of jerseys between players is cool, and the very best thing is the players approaching the stands and applauding, in tribute to their fans.  That acknowledgement from the players to the people who invest their money and time into coming and cheering is wonderful.  I hope AC St. Louis will adopt all these traditions.

4. Cheering is Golden:  There are very few quiet moments during a soccer game.  Fans cheer and boo, but they also have songs and chants that are going on throughout the game.  The  ESPN Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, wrote in a 2006 column that “American sports have been ravaged by TV timeouts, ticket price hikes and Jumbotrons that pretty much order fans how to act.”  Soccer fans don’t need to be coached or encouraged when to cheer, what to chant and how to sing.  Fan spontaneity is a good thing.

3. Low Scoring Games:  Many Americans criticize our game because of the low-scoring contests.  And indeed, for the 2007-2008 seasons, the Dutch Eredivise averaged 3.12 goals per game, the German Bundesliga 2.81, Spain’s La Liga 2.69, the English Premier League 2.64, Serie A in Italy 2.55, and Ligue 1 of France 2.28.   Although I enjoyed Portsmouth’s 7-4 victory over Reading a few years back, I’m glad the game scores are low, because it makes each goal memorable.  Twenty-three year old American Maurice Edu’s goal in Rangers 1-0 victory over Old Firm rival Celtic will be

Maurice Edu

remembered as long as Glasgow has the Old Firm derby.  No one can ever forget Diego Maradonna’s two goals for Argentina against England in the 1986 World Cup, the first the controversial “Hand of God” goal and the second where he brilliantly evaded six defenders to score.   The low scoring makes each goal more precious and memorable.

2. Grace and Brutality:  Soccer can be so full of finesse and grace one moment, and so harsh and brutal the next.   When we think of the game, we think of the grace and skill of Pele, David Beckham’s amazing ability to bend the ball over great distances,  Ronaldinho’s bicycle kicks and other masterful tricks. Yet, as the yang to the ying of such feats of elegance, the tough men of the game give the game grit and an intimidation factor that balances all the feats of magic.  Vinnie Jones, the English enforcer who brought his toughness to the big screen in

Vinnie Jones

“Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” exemplifies a player who thrived on scaring his opponents, and indeed holds the record for the quickest booking (3 seconds) in a 1992 Chelsea-Sheffield United match.  The late Charlie “Gloves” Colombo helped save victory for the U.S. and his fellow St. Louisans in the USA’s immortal 1-0 World Cup upset over England in 1950 with a hard tackle on Stanley Mortenson.  Though a foul was given, St. Louisan Frank Borghi was able to tip away the resulting free kick and the US held on for the victory.  Every fleet-footed, amazing dribbler has to be aware of one of his opponents willing to take him down in a crunching tackle.

1. Soccer Explains the World:  I’m borrowing the title of Franklin Foer’s outstanding book, but I could also call this “Soccer as the World’s Religion” or “Soccer is the Real U.N.”   This is the world’s game, the game that is cared about and argued about across our planet.  Overseas, teams often represent political, religious or social aspirations of their fans.  And in the current era, players from all over the world are purchased for club teams, so that London’s Arsenal squad often does not have one Englishman in its starting lineup.  Is this globalization a good thing?  I think so.  AC St.Louis began training with a roster made of not only St. Louisans and other Americans but players from Brazil, Trinidad, France, Bosnia, Mali and Angola.  I think when one cheers for players from other cultures and backgrounds, it  broadens ones’s worldview and makes one more empathic.  And also. by having a professional soccer team, St. Louis begins making its mark on the global consciousness.  As AC St. Louis grows and flourishes, awareness of our city will grow worldwide.  In today’s global economy, this isn’t a trivial thing.  Take the example of the University of Missouri.  Their football team is regularly in post season bowl games now and the basketball squad went far in last year’s NCAA tournament.  Hmm, and enrollment at the University has increased markedly.  The success of the teams creates awareness of the University of Missouri in the minds of potential students and their parents.  Similarly, the success and growth of AC St. Louis will create awareness internationally for St. Louis.  Hosting the Players for Peace Goodwill game here next August isn’t a coincidence, and that contest will not only bring world famous players here, but tourists and fans also, spending money in our hotels and restaurants.   Through the game of soccer, we become more aware of our global neighbors, and they become more aware of us.  In the economy of the 21st century, this is vital to our well being.


One Response

  1. […] come up as one of our top searches for the last two months because of an article Gerry wrote about 10 Reasons Why the Beautiful Game is Beautiful. Therefore, Vinnie Jones might start becoming an ongoing joke on our […]

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