By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
While on the sidelines shooting photos this past week at the Lady Braves soccer match, I noticed something that I rarely, if ever, see at Cherokee High School football or basketball games – a sparse amount of fans. That got me to thinking about soccer as a sport in America and the question of why do Americans not like the game.
In all fairness, let me premise this column by saying that I am a fan so I’m biased. I watch the Barclay’s English Premier League matches every weekend that I can – go Liverpool! But, I do understand that I am in the vast minority of Americans when it comes to watching soccer.
In an op-ed published on politico.com, Stephen H. Webb wrote, “Simply put, soccer – call it ‘football’ if you must – is a tragic game, and thus cuts deeply against the grain of the American ethos. Americans are an optimistic people. We like scoring too much to enjoy a game that is more about preventing success than achieving it.”
While I disagree with the basic premise of his column, I do agree that most Americans do not enjoy soccer. I think it might be because most Americans do not truly understand the game, and that might be a generational thing. Most people my age did not grow up playing the game. We played football, basketball, ran track, and other sports, but very few of us played soccer.
According to the U.S. Youth Soccer Association, there were a total of 103,432 members in 1974. Fast forward forty years, and there were over three million (3,055,148) in 2014. That shows tremendous growth and tremendous potential for the sport in the United States.
Soccer might seem complicated, but in its essence, the “Beautiful Game” is really quite simple. Eleven people try to put a ball into a large net and eleven more people try to prevent that from happening. As with all games, it is obviously more complicated than that, but it truly is much, much easier to understand than our version of football which seems to amend and add rules on a yearly basis.
In short, give soccer a chance…you might like it. I think David Beckham, footballer extraordinaire, summed it up best when he said, “Soccer is a magical game.”
Sporting must-sees for May 1-3
This week is easy – the much-anticipated fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao is the clear choice this weekend. It is being shown on Showtime PPV with pre-fight coverage starting at 8pm.