Thursday, May 14, 2009

The greatest and best sport in the world

Here's a picture of the Mexican National team practicing on my old college field in Chicago last summer. I love Moody's field. It's carved in to the middle of down town Chicago. See the "El" moving along the track? The field was essentially donated by Karsten Solheim, the founder of PING golf equipment. 1991 was the first season Moody played on it, my junior year. Yours truly scored the lone goal in Moody's first win on the new field- one of my greatest soccer memories ever. I'm convinced soccer is the greatest sport in the world.
Despite it's relative lack of popularity in the U.S. (too many "immediate gratification" sports to compete with) , low estimates of people who play amateur soccer is 300 million in 200 different countries. tThat's referring to people signed up to play soccer. There has to be millions more who play in the streets and open fields of all these countries as well. When I was in Mexico and Bulgaria I had the opportunity to play soccer games with players who were skilled enough to be Division I players in the U.S. but had never been on an organized team in their country! Soccer truly is the international past time.
Sports writer Jim Smoot well notes-

Soccer is a game of skill and control. In a match between evenly skilled teams, low scores are not uncommon. These low scores leave many Americans with the impression that the game is boring and uneventful. In a society that revels in action, many people look at scoring a goal as the only exciting thing during a soccer match. For those who follow and understand the game, nothing could be further from the truth. As people become more accustomed to the game, they become more aware of the skills and strategies required to play well. They come to appreciate the ability of the players to run while dribbling, change directions on a dime, and make a brilliant pass to an open teammate. They also come to admire the defensive abilities of a player to step into the passing lane to intercept a pass, or the keeper's ability to make a diving save.


Frontier Forest said...

I know nothing of the game. But the one negative that to me, has always painted somewhat of a dark picture of soccer, are the radical fanatics that stampede entrances, crushing people to death, in order to get a seat! But then, got to cut some slack here, because the same question must be asked about those idiot “hard-rock-groupies” that stampede entrances, killing and crushing other weirdo’s to death, in order to see and hear some wacked-out, strung-out, long haired dude beat a guitar over the stage, then urinate on it after the beat up guitar is set on fire. Come to think of it, soccer is a pretty calm sport!

Rick Calohan said...

When I was stationed in Korea from 1987-92, the South Korean team was very dominant in World Cup action in fact in the 2002 World Cup they Co-Hosted with Japan the World Cup. The South Korean team that competed in 1990 World Cup was so dedicated to the sport that they even removed cartilage from the knees to avoid conscription into the South Korean military. When I went to the Philippines for the first time in 2004, I thought the American influence baseball would be popular there. Turns out the most popular sport there is basketball. It was not until I returned to America that it dawned on me. In baseball you need balls, bats, gloves, batting helmets, etc., in American football you need helmets, pads, etc. and probably because the field is a 100 yards and not 100 meters. Hockey you need ice, skates, pads, stick etc. However, basketball just like fĂștbol you only need one ball and one or two goals. I am not a soccer head by any stretch of the imagination but our friends children (one five and the other two years old) came over one day and we got out the goal and soccer ball out with yours truly as goalie and it was fun to watch these kids run around the yard chasing the ball and attempting to score. John (our son) is walking now and at times is running too, and it won’t be long before he too will like to take a few shots at his old man. While, I will introduce to him my favorite sport baseball, and get the ball and glove out (he has his t-ball set ready) and throw the ole Nerf football with him, I am willing to chase him around the yard then to watch him be glued in front of a video game which as you know there is a FIFA Video Game out there as well. With over 200 nation states in the tournament Italy is currently ranked 5, looks like Spain is the team to beat in 2010. Team USA is currently ranked 15.

FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking

1 Spain

2 Germany

3 Netherlands

4 Brazil

5 Italy

6 Argentina

7 England

8 Croatia

9 Russia

10 France

11 Portugal

12 Czech Republic

13 Greece

14 Turkey

15 USA

Malcolm said...

You can't use your hands?