Soccer - perhaps the only true sport around these days (Posted on 2/13/13 at 2:08 am)
Found this on a Houston Dynamo soccer blog. Pretty good stuff....
I recently attended my first professional soccer game, and have since I watched the most action-packed 90 minutes of pure sport I have ever seen, my punitive views of soccer have changed drastically. American sports seem so boring to me now. Let me share my wisdom.
Baseball has the seventh inning stretch, nine (or more) innings where the players warm up each time they take the field as to depict they have undergone a grueling previous inning that completely depleted them of all physical commitment. Pitching changes involve the new pitcher warming up on the game mound, as if it is any different from the bull pen mound. Maybe it is, but hey, you are a professional athlete making millions of dollars. Make the adjustment yourself. If it rains, the game has a rain delay. We certainly don't want those pretty little uniforms to get muddy, now do we? In baseball, you can go to the restroom and concession stand as many times as you want without missing anything. How about the coach going to the mound every inning to give his poor performing pitcher a pep talk? Hey guys, let's play ball! Enough of the minute-by-minute mentoring already.
In American football, the players are covered in pads like they are competitors in a medieval jousting match. The two minute warning in each half lets players know that time is ticking down. The quarterback has a wireless receiver in his ear so the coach can tell him what plays to run, based on laser printer images taken from the sideline sent down there by the offensive coordinator up in the booth. Instant replay has gone too far. And what is with this challenge rule? Who are we kidding? Humans make mistakes and errors. It happens. Quit the crying and get your touchdown on the next play. There are balls for the kicker, balls for the offense, balls for this, balls for that? Just use one ball please. My question is, doesn't anybody just play regular football anymore? Where has the "sport" aspect of it gone? Oh wait...I forgot about a little town called Las Vegas that demands (with success) to know about injuries and every possible variant that could affect the outcome/score of a game.
In basketball, the ref goes over to the shot clock operator at the end of a close game and says, "Please add .3 seconds to the clock." In soccer, the ref says, "Sorry kid, maybe you should have scored a goal earlier in the game." The numerous timeouts given to each team always give the players to catch their breath. Television commercial timeouts are also a chance to let the players rest and re-hydrate while sitting in an air-conditioned arena. It seems more time (and intrigue) is spent cheering on half-court shots for a $5,000 prize and watching the mascot do front-flip slam dunks in between the numerous team and TV timeouts.
I soon realized that soccer folk are in the most overall shape of any sport (maybe aside from boxing). Running full speed for two 45 minute halves without any timeouts is much easier said than done. The clock never stops to give anyone a rest. The ball can end up on any part of the field any at time, so each player must be alert at all times. All soccer is outdoors, often played in a downpour. The rule of thumb is, no lightning, game goes on. It is the only sport where you can run full speed at someone, both of you wearing no pads, and knock the daylights out of them, as long as you are challenging for the ball. Once a player is substituted off, he cannot come back on after a "breather". Players stay on the field and run run run, constantly controlling the ball with their head, chest, and feet. It is the only sport where you are not allowed to use the easiest part of your body that allows you to excel at competition: your hands. That puts the sport into soccer. No commercial TV breaks, no timeouts, no two minute warnings, no coaches with earpieces and microphones telling his players what to do. Just 11 fit players, playing soccer, perhaps the only true sport around these days.