Soccer Tournament Weekend

SONY DSC

If you’re a new parent, or expect to be a parent someday, here is some information you will need.

In America kids play soccer. In the rest of the world, kids play football, sometimes called futbol. They’re all the same.

Don’t confuse this with American football. American football players, each wear more protective gear than an entire Marine battalion in combat; they “play” for about 15 seconds by banging into one another, usually ending up in a pile on the ground. After that there’s a three minute pause while officials take measurements and the teams reposition themselves for the next play. If it’s professional, college, or whatever and televised add several additional minutes for advertisements. The football is occasionally kicked, but more often it is thrown by hand.

American football players are generally from America, often recruited from American colleges where they played as highly paid amateurs. After playing American football for a few years, most players suffer enough head trauma so as to forget whatever they learned in college, the fact that they ever went to college, and the fact that they aren’t supposed to drool.

American football is divided into four quarters, each of which lasts 15 minutes, but the timer is stopped at the end of certain plays, when a team calls for a time out, for station identification and commercials, or for review of instant replays. The last five minutes of the fourth quarter usually lasts several hours.

In soccer, the players also wear protective gear—shin guards. The game is divided into two halves; for adults, each half lasts 45 minutes. The players play for the entire half, running approximately 250 miles during the average game. Except in cases of extremely serious injury (e.g. missing limb, sucking chest wound), the halves last 45 minutes. In case of rain, snow, or extreme heat, the halves last 45 minutes. Lightning is the one exception; lightning strikes tend to take out entire teams, the spectators, and tend to ruin the expensive soccer balls.

Professional soccer players are international—this means that they are not necessarily from the country where they play soccer. They may not speak the local language, or even knew that the football club, city, or country where they play existed before arriving. Because of such issues, hand signals are used for official rulings and severe penalties are communicated by colored cards. Yellow means, “You better watch it, Bub.” Red means “Yer outta here, and your team can’t send in a substitute.”

Most American kids do play soccer but don’t go on to play professional soccer the way their American football counterparts do. Professional soccer is not as profitable because after supporting children’s soccer, soccer parents cannot afford to attend professional sports matches or live in decent neighborhoods. In fact, if soccer uniforms, travel, and gas for the car were allowed to be deducted for tax purposes, most soccer families would qualify for food stamps.

But if their kids go to college, they’ll remember that they went, and much of what they learned, even if that material in Economics 101 evaporated shortly after the final exam was completed.

Advertisements

One response to “Soccer Tournament Weekend

  1. Steve, call me a old, nerd or capitalist, but I believe you should submit this post on the basics of soccer to a national newspaper. Yes, it’s fun, but it’s also interesting and insightful. I realize others might say “Soccer parents already know all this stuff.” That may be true. How about soccer grandparents and extended family–and NEW soccer parents, and NEW soccer teachers, and new soccer watchers? And please do not send it to a “choir” audience, like that of Sports Illustrated. Rather a general readership with wide demographics like the LA Times or the Washington Post–and perhaps the NY Times, except that they perhaps read to the left.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s