You know what I’ve been thinking about lately? Soccer.
Without question, the most popular sport in the world is football. Not American football, but rather the sport we here in the States refer to as soccer. Anyone who’s ever seen footage of disappointed soccer fans rioting in the streets after a loss knows this to be true.
The world’s love of soccer is a source of amusement amongst us here in the U. S. of A. We consistently look down our noses at our global counterparts and wonder how civilized, reasonable people could enjoy a sport that involves little scoring and players who regularly drop to the ground and roll around as if they’ve been hit by a sniper’s bullet.
Despite playing soccer as a lad, and having a better than average understanding of the sport, I’ve nevertheless understood some of the animosity toward the beautiful game.
First of all, it’s a bit pretentious to refer to it as “the beautiful game.” It’s a sport not the Mona Lisa.
Secondly, it doesn’t exactly translate well to television. It’s slowly paced and doesn’t have strategically placed breaks in the action for networks to fill with erectile dysfunction ads. And if there’s one thing Americans won’t tolerate it’s a sport or sport-like product that can’t be easily hyped, commercialized and consumed by mass audiences.
Despite these flaws, I’ve recently found myself more interested in soccer than I have been in years. This spring my newly adopted hometown of Seattle joined Major League Soccer. And with no established rooting interest in the MLS, it was easy for a carpetbagger like myself to adopt this new franchise as my own.
But after attending the inaugural game and watching subsequent games on TV, something unexpected happened. Not only have the Seattle Sounders become a remarkably good team by expansion standards but for the first time in my life, I’m watching soccer… and truly enjoying it.
And while it started with the Sounders, I’ve also found myself watching English Premier League matches, European cup competitions and World Cup Qualifying. I’m even considering playing soccer again, provided my legs are still capable of that much running.
So why have I embraced a sport I’ve had little interest in for such a long period of time?
Perhaps it’s all part of Barack Obama’s fiendish plan to socialize our country. Perhaps some toxic additive has been put into our drinking water and it’s slowly turning our brains into Euro-mush. If I find myself – a non-smoker and avid fan of daily showers – buying cigarettes and bathing less, I’ll know something sinister is afoot. And if I start using the metric system and traveling by train, I’ll know the days of free market capitalism are numbered.
Or perhaps, now that I’m in my mid-thirties, my subconscious is desperately trying to find some way of reconnecting with my youth. And since the Star Wars prequels sucked and I couldn’t possibly bring myself to drink Milwaukee’s Best again, soccer has become that connection.
Watching the sport has certainly reminded me of playing the game as a teenager. During those glory days the Corcoran High varsity squad lost the vast majority of our games and had a jackass for a coach.
On the bright side, I was far skinnier back then and as healthy as I was naive. I assume this is really what my subconscious is trying to get at; telling me I need more exercise.
Regardless of the reason, I’m enjoying soccer again. It may ultimately be a fad – kind of like that time I experimented with hockey in college – but if it’s not, I look forward to my inevitable future as a drunken soccer hooligan. If I end up setting your car on fire, I apologize ahead of time.