Give Soccer a Chance

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***As you read this article, please take the time to watch the videos as they come up.***

When I find myself trying to rank the sports I like the most in order, the three that come to my mind are always football, basketball, and baseball. Living in the United States, this only makes sense because those are the sports that are always in your face, the ones reported on most and the ones most kids here grow up playing and loving. But thanks to my half-Nigerian heritage, I was exposed to soccer early on as well (as it is the biggest sport over there, along with most of the world) and I have never been more grateful for this because as time goes on, my appreciation for soccer only gets bigger and bigger.

Having said this, it often annoys me how many Americans often bash, and almost seem predisposed to, dislike soccer- often without giving it a real chance. For a sport that is as big worldwide as soccer is, people here need to give it much more of a shot. When people here bash soccer, it is usually one of the same recycled reasons: They don’t like tie games, they don’t like 0-0 games, they don’t like the way some players flop, they don’t like the fact that the clock always runs and the halftime and full-time whistles only come after a somewhat arbitrary amount of time decided by the ref. To me, though, all these complaints are largely related to a small-to-no sample size of watching games.

To address all these claims briefly: Tie games and 0-0 games might appear stupid or wastes of time on the surface. Why go to a game or watch when there’s a chance that it might end without either team winning or even neither team scoring? Well, for one reason, when one point creates the difference between a win and a loss, that excitement fans have when teams are scoring back and forth in football, for instance, is the same because one mistake or one great play at any time could give the team a win. In addition, in soccer, a tie can actually be valuable because each tie is worth a point while wins get you 3 and losses get you 0. In the below video, for instance, the team that was scored on, Tottenham, needed to win this game against Chelsea to get the point they needed to stay mathematically alive to have a chance at winning the English Premier League. So when this happened with 10 minutes left in the game, it felt like much more than a 2-2 tie.

As for 0-0 games, people always assume the reason a team is not able to score is that they aren’t playing well. But that isn’t always the case.

There are absolutely some soccer players that flop, or embellish contact within a game, to get a foul call from the ref. Players like Neymar, for instance, receive a lot of backlash for doing this so often. However, this doesn’t represent the majority at all, and with new rules allowing referees to call fouls on players for simulating contact, it is nowhere near as big a problem as it is said to be. Additionally, some of the best goals you will ever see involve a player fighting through contact instead of flopping.

One of the things I honestly love about soccer is how fast and easy it is to watch. With the 90 minute running clock, that only stops for a 15-ish minute break at halftime, and no commercials, it is one of the most compact sports viewing experiences. Especially compared to the most popular American sports, which all can often suffer from a very choppy experience, especially with timeouts and commercials strewn throughout an average game.

As for the referee deciding how long extra time should be and this being somewhat arbitrary, I have seen too many goals scored at the end of extra time to decide a game to ever complain about that again.

If you made it to the end of this article, thanks for reading and I hope I was able to convince you to give this great sport a try. The videos I picked were an attempt to show all the various sides of how soccer can amaze you in different ways- long-range goals, great passes, amazing defensive plays, last-second scores, and more. So this weekend, when you wake up on Saturday morning, flip on a Premier League game and see what you think.

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