On our trip to Brazil we were lucky to be able to take in a soccer game. I’m not a huge fan of soccer, I think it is pretty boring to watch. I like to play it, but in my opinion there is very little action, not a lot of strategy, and too many players roll on the ground as if they have just suffered a career ending injury. Never mind that after they roll around and grimace they get up and run around as if nothing happened. I’m not looking to start a fight, I know soccer is “the world’s” sport, but it just does not do much for me.
Baseball games just ooze with strategy. When you look at a baseball score board it’s common to see batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, RBI’s, home runs, singles, doubles, triples, along with the pitchers strikes, balls, total pitches made, and pitch speed. You are literally overwhelmed with information and any number of things can happen each time the pitcher rears back and lets it rip.
In a soccer game you have only two things on the score board: goals, of which there are very, very, very few and time elapsed. What else are you going to put up there? Perhaps how many times a particular player kicks with each foot? In soccer possession is most often messy with teams constantly turning over the ball and goal keepers kicking the ball great distances with no discernible strategy other than a vague hope that his team will gain possession when the ball drops from the sky. And if a game ends in a tie they settle it with penalty kicks – how random is that? You struggle for almost two hours as a team and can’t even score enough to win and then you tee up the ball for individuals to start firing it at the goal keeper in a Mano e Mano type format? I’m sorry, it makes no logical sense to me. Why transform a team game into the ultimate game of one on one? In my opinion, if it’s a team sport you have to keep playing as a team until there is a winner.
However, I do love cultural experiences and a soccer game is a cultural experience. We attended a game at one of the most famous stadiums in the world – Maracana Stadium. It is interesting to note that the stadium was built to hold 100,000 people, but when Brazil met Uruguay in the World Cup in 1950 they jammed 200,000 people into the stadium. Overcrowding is just one hazard you face at a soccer game we found out. Take a look at this picture . . .
Legions of fans of both teams light fireworks in what has to be one of the most unsafe things you could possibly do in a crowded stadium. I can’t imagine how many people end up with serious burns during games. This practice also fills the stadium with smoke which obscures you view of the game . . .
I guess maybe I’m just a wet blanket. I will say that the fans put American sports fans to shame. Well over an hour before kick off fans were chanting, singing, and waving flags with fervor unseen in all but maybe the most intense playoff games in American Professional sports leagues. And this fervor is not aided by alcohol. Alcohol is not sold in the stadium, but me thinks that if someone can smuggle burning hot fireworks into a game, they probably end up smuggling a bit of alcohol as well. And then there is the incredibly safe practice of letting children stand on the seats . . .
In the end I am just a random observer who I am sure will be shouted down by ardent soccer supporters. It was a fun cultural experience, but soccer for me will continue to be something that garners a bit of interest every four years when the World Cup occurs.