It takes time to appreciate soccer

July 17, 2010
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IBJ Letters To The Editor

I’ve never heard of [columnist Bill Benner], but I have been a fan of IBJ for quite some time, for its business quotes, interesting local news, sometimes overlooked by the [Indianapolis] Star and great titles. I decided to read [your June 28 column]—see, whenever there is soccer involved, my blood runs faster, my pulse gallops and my mind expands beyond reality. You said you try and try to understand soccer, but you couldn’t.

Your first failure was to sit in your easy chair. Soccer is not meant to be watched like that. You probably thought that sitting and watching the U.S. game was enough to know the game. It will take around five World Cups to have an understanding, a feeling, a taste for what soccer is to most of the world. Soccer is beyond a game—it’s culture, it’s history, it’s geography, it’s economics, sometimes even politics—and the game deserves its respect and prestige.

The World Cup is the biggest event for the soccer world, but it just doesn’t happen because it is scheduled every four years. It happens because every year more young kids, even in the United States, even here in Indy, are playing soccer. These kids become teenagers, and the good ones become professionals. That’s the easy part. The tough part is to be good enough to be selected from thousands to represent a soccer club, and later, if you are that good, the climax of all, to represent a country, and what that means to your family, your neighborhood, your city, your customs, your identity.   

But it takes time, sacrifice and talent to accomplish that, and for us mortals, today, to witness this event and its magnitude it is a privilege and a blessing. You see Europeans, Africans, Latinos, Orientals, even Americans screaming, crying, feeling alive, feeling that no matter how your life is going, today it’s better because your country or your favorite team plays.

So I invite you to educate yourself and learn the world and its history, geography, economics and customs. When that happens, you will understand soccer, its government entity FIFA and rankings, confederations, tournaments, rules and, more important, its fans.

John Castaneda


  • Heard this before...
    Regarding the alleged popularity growth of soccer in American, we've been hearing the same tune being played for 40 years now.

    It started when Pele and the other stars came to the states in the 1970s, and everybody said, "Now soccer's here." And then the kids started playing. They said, "Wait until they grow up. Wait until they grow up. They'll love soccer." And they grew up, and they didn't love soccer. They walked away.

    They said, in 1994, when the World Cup was here, they said, "That will turn the corner." In 1999, the women won the World Cup for the United States, and everybody said, "Boy, that's terrific. That's fabulous." And in two or three years, women's soccer pro league had died.

    And with the latest World Cup, here we go again. This is a blip on the scene, and it will be gone.

    Soccer is the most popular participation sport in the America. But very few enjoy watching it.

    Americans have rejected the sport as Americans have proven over and over again that they don't like the sport. There's not enough scoring. There are too many ties. It's a very frustrating game, too defensively oriented for us.

    And it doesn't have the proficiency that sports do that use your hands. It's totally bizarre when you think about it that a game would be played with feet and head rather than hands. I mean, this makes no sense whatsoever.

    And you cannot be proficient in such a game, and Americans reject that. What is called brilliant in soccer is an incomplete pass in football. And the sport itself is over-dramatized, with the falling down. There's entirely too many, a high percentage of scores because of penalties, which are very dubious.

    And simply we've shown over and over again that we reject that. Soccer will never be a popular spectator sport in America.
  • One Generation Away
    Soccer is a sport that is best appreciated, as a fan, when you have played the game yourself. During the last 10 years of coaching youth, travel, soccer, there were never more than a couple parents on any team that had actually played the sport. So, the under 35â??s of today are still the first generation that have grown up playing soccer. The USAâ??s interest in the sport will continue to rise as these new generations become fans and parents, and this will only add to the 700 million fans that just watched the world cup final.
    • Bien Dicho!
      Well said for saying what the rest of the world would have said upon reading the original article! Bien dicho! Felicidades!

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