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Soccer – Why Don’t Americans See the Beauty in it?

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A 50-yard sideline to sideline pass, a splendid ball played down the line to a bolting runner, a cross perfectly swung in by the winger, and finally, a calm and collected finish, headed into the top corner of the net.

Such is a typical play in the top soccer leagues around the world. 22 players absoutely flying around the field, showing superb control and finesse with their feet. Excuse the pun, but this a feat which is almost impossible to find anywhere else. And yet, even though this type of athletic achievement is so rare, Americans just do not get that excited about it. Usually when something is rare, Americans pounce on it. Just think of diamonds, highend clothing, and undercooked meat (ok that was a stupid joke). But still, for the most part, Americans appreciate things which they themselves cannot do. However, when it comes to soccer, we just don’t get it. If the aforementioned play were to take place in a European or South American soccer stadium, there would be a buildup of anticpiation from the start of the play to the finish, by the end of which the intensity would be so thick that the crowd would begin to grow restless, awaiting the culmination. One can literally feel the pressure build up. And when that goal finally comes, there is an thunderous explosion of applause that would put any volcano to shame. However, when such aplay occurs in a stadium in the United States, the attention and ovation comes only near the end of the play or when the goal is scored. There is no buildup. It seems as if in America, we either cheer or we don’t cheer and it depends on whether we score or not. There is no buildup of anticipation. No sitting on the edge of your chair, waiting, yearning for something to happen. For this reason, most Americans view soccer as boring and too low scoring of a game.

As a soccer fan of over 20 years, I constantly ask myself why we don’t seem to appreciate what the rest of the world deems as the most beautiful and electrifying game around. I finally came up with what I feel is the answer to that question.

WE ARE AN IMPATIENT PEOPLE.

The United States of America is filled with a myriad of peoples and cultures, each differing from the rest in one way or another. However, as a whole we are a very low-context culture. We say what we mean and we are very blunt. For the most part, there are no hidden meanings in what we say. Along with this low-context aspect of our culture comes the incessant desire for istant gratification. WE WANT WHAT WE WANT AND WE WANT IT NOW!!! Despite the old addage “patience is a virtue,” Americans simply cannot just sit around and wait for something to happen. We are go-getters. And the sports we have come to love reflect just that. Take basketball for instance. Each of the two teams competing can score well over 100 points. Every play is fast-paced, end-to-end stuff. Also, in football, almost every play is excting. Either the offensive team rips a play for 20 or more yards, even scoring a touchdown, or the defensive team lays them out with a bone-crunching tackle. Even in baseball, which to most is somewhat of a boring, drawn-out game, there are plenty of exciting plays; homeruns, strikeouts, double plays, diving catches, etc… Ever since childhood, we have grown up thinking that if something exciting doesn’t happen right here, right now, we should not be impressed. It must be derived from the notion of the American Dream, making something happen right now. It seems as if Americans are more interested in the destination than in the journey. Everything is simply a means to an end, and the end is what we want, now matter how we get there.


But, soccer is not that type of game. Whereas in basketball and football you have ali-oops and hail mary passes, in soccer you have subtle passing schemes and precision control. Don’t get me wrong, soccer is exciting, more so than any other sport in my opinion. But you have to be an astute viewer and a dedicated student of the game to notice the beautiful intracacies. I honestly feel that if we Americans would place more emphasis on the journey rather than the destination and watch how a play unfolds, not how it ends, we would be more in tune with the spirit of soccer. We would understand its beauty. We would see what the rest of the world sees.

This article was written by Nishan Wilde at Robbins Sports and Athletics

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