Time for soccer to get its due

Hank Williams Jr. caused a firestorm with his reference to Hitler and President Obama last week and his iconic opening song to Monday Night Football was dopped. This caused a great stir among political pundits but my controversy does not involve Williams, Hitler, or even the network that held him accountable.


My beef comes with FOX sports. The Lions and Cowboys game that was aired in the early time slot had all the drama, big plays, and edge of the seat action that any NFL game could ask for. In the midst of the drama a promo aired for the following event as a continuance of their Sunday lineup of football. Not an uncommon practice.


What was not made immediately clear was that it was international futbol that would follow, Tottenham vs. Arsenal to be exact. I am a budding soccer enthusiast but this promo put a sour taste in my mouth, almost like Fox was trying to slip a fast one past me. We are in America and in America futbol is soccer and football is football.


Real football has by far outgrown baseball as our national pastime whether it’s college or NFL. International elitism when it comes to soccer is causing more harm than good for the sport in America.


I grew up thinking soccer was all about running around trying to get a chance to just kick the ball whether it was close to the goal or a teammate was irrelevant, getting orange slices and Capri Suns at halftime and going out for pizza afterwards, win or lose. And sometimes ice cream too.


This soccer season I have had the chance to expand my horizons and cover soccer nearly exclusively. I have to admit that at first it did feel like watching people running around until the ball found it’s way near the goal and, in a rare case, seeing it actually make it to the back of the net.
As I stripped away my biases I had accumulated and gave soccer a fair shot, I was blown away by the intricacy and strategy that goes into scoring a goal, playing defense and defending the net as a keeper.
These athletes have to be in such superb physical condition that it allows them to pursue other athletic ventures with ease. The training alone demands respect from fans of all sports.
UVU forward Natalie Young plays collegiately in both track and soccer but says the training doesn’t cut both ways.
“It’s way easier to move into track season from soccer,” Young said. “After soccer season you are in such good shape because you are always running and moving. Track is more short distance training so it takes a little bit more to get back in shape for soccer.”
While some may or may not enjoy the sport to begin with, given time and an open mind soccer can grow on the hardest of hardcore, armchair quarterbacks . After playing many different sports throughout my life, I can honesty say that I have given the least amount of time and attention to soccer.
My beef with Fox is that they should proudly air premier league soccer and not have to dress it up as “football” Sunday continued. Soccer is not mutton dressed up as lamb. For many, it’s a perfectly seasoned rib-eye hot of the grill.
The key for soccer’s success in this country is education and exposure. Fox helped neither by implying soccer is a football substitute. Soccer won’t take the American Sporting world by storm overnight, but in the famous words of Dr. Leo Marvin: “All it takes is baby steps.”

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