The Unappreciated Art of Soccer
Fotbol (or soccer) has been deranged by everyone who says they don’t understand the sport. They say the scoring is always way too low, the game is boring, no hands are involved, it’s too long, and there’s never any instant gratification.
The highs and lows of the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa this past month were obvious for those that watched. The refereeing was atrocious. The player ‘acting’ following many fouls that were committed and not committed, were noticeable in many cases.
Certainly one can understand the goings-on, and the nuances of a sport that can be magical, as well as intensely vicious. What is regarded as the most physically demanding sport to play …, Sports Illustrated says soccer is perhaps the most physically demanding sports ever. It is also played in all types of weather except for a severe lightning storm.
Midfielders typically run and sprint more than 7 miles per game. The most impressive plays are abrupt trapping of screaming passes, diving saves accomplished by the goalies, and incredible shots scored. This World Cup has not disappointed.
Made during an early game, the most impressive shot (and there were many) was when an offensive player was all the way at the defenders goal line with the ball. He was 12 yards outside of the goal area, with a defender and a goalie in front of him.
With no angle whatsoever, he shot the ball with the outside of his foot along the goal line, and curved it into the goal between the goalie and the goalpost. The goalie was only out a yard from the goal, and had any cross cut off for offensive players.
The scariest play was in the semi-final match between Uruguay and Netherlands. A Uruguay offensive player decided to take a reverse-bicycle shot at the goal without knowing that the Dutch defender decided to head the high ball out of the area. Neither knew what would follow.
The Dutch header came first clearing the ball. But neither knew what would happen a split second later. The foot of the Uruguayan came up high to make the spectacular shot, but slammed directly into the face of the Dutchman who crumpled to the ground in pain. Without any animosity from either player, the Dutch reclaimed possession of the ball, and eventually won the game 3-2.
It was reminiscent of games played by Pele thirty years ago when he made the bicycle shot famous. With all the shots he took in his career, Pele only scored on 8 bicycle shots with all his failed attempts. But the ones he made were absolutely spectacular. Forget any other sport. No other athlete can make a bicycle shot except for soccer players.
When the possibility of being fouled was called, most players jumped at the chance and feigned serious injury. But the most obvious detail in every soccer game is the number of yellow cards received by each team. A yellow card is given to any player fouling another in a grievous matter. Surprisingly, two of the 32 teams in the tournament were Spain and the US having only 3 yellow cards each. The US was been eliminated, but Spain plays for the world championship on Sunday.
It makes one wonder about those who feel they must receive immediate gratification. One could think of several instances where that could be counterproductive. One could also wonder why the number of soccer teams in the world greatly outnumbers any other type of athletic team in the world.
Kevin Roeten can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.