If you try to explain why soccer is so fantastic to someone who doesn’t follow the sport, you won’t be able to find the words.
It is bizarre that such a global sport cannot be easily described. However, the feelings generated through the game provide its colloquial namesake. Soccer is a beautiful game.
Life, especially in the modern age, can feel frustrating and empty. We have more conveniences at our disposal than ever before. Yet, the world seems to be lurching from one chaotic disaster to the next.
For example, politics is shot. You can barely start logical debate with someone online before the vitriol arrives.
Soccer is far from immune from these downsides of the modern world, but at its core, it remains pure and beautiful.
State-owned Manchester City, Newcastle United and Paris Saint-Germain being able to spend a bottomless pit of money isn’t a great advert for the sport. But, beauty lies in the play on the pitch.
What makes soccer the greatest sport?
As enjoyable and immersive as American sports are, there is always a sense that you can know when to look at your phone, or when to go to the bathroom and not miss anything.
Soccer does not have that. The pace of the game is eye-watering. The speed at which momentum lurches from team-to-team is scary. It always has you on the edge of your seat, even if you don’t have any particular emotional attachment to the teams playing.
You can see moments that defy description on the soccer field. Thierry Henry’s magical first-touch and volley against Fabien Barthez in 2000. Lionel Messi running through an entire team before rounding the goalkeeper and announcing himself on the world stage against Getafe in 2007. These are moments which happen in the blink of an eye, but stay with you for a lifetime.
When played well, soccer can feel like an orchestra hitting all the right notes. Things that are difficult to achieve for the regular person can appear so easy to these generationally gifted athletes.
Soccer fans make the spectacle better
Whilst soccer fandom can sometimes go over the line, the presence of fans makes the game what it is.
Soccer in empty stadiums during the COVID-19 pandemic was awful. There was no feeling, no pressure, no anxiety. These feelings are the lifeblood of the game.
Who cares if Manchester United puts together more stoppage time drama if no one is there to see it? It was a travesty to see Liverpool end decades of suffering in the league when it lifted the Premier League trophy to chair backs.
Soccer can be an escape for so many. It attracts young people who suddenly get the feeling of belonging to something for perhaps the first time in their life.
They are no longer an anonymous person at school, but immediately they are part of a fan-base, all wanting, despairing for the same outcome, three points.
When you write this on paper, it doesn’t seem magical. It’s why non-soccer fans find the whole thing so bizarre. It’s difficult to explain, it just makes you feel a certain way.
Soccer connects generations
It has become somewhat of a cliché, but soccer has the potential to forge strong bonds between family members.
You will see some of the best father-son moments two people can describe coming at their soccer stadium of choice.
Again, it’s a moment of pure inconsequence in the grand scheme of things, but just think back to incidents you’ve seen with either your father or mother, and relived over and over for years. Soccer can create such longstanding bonds, and no matter how much money filters into the game and where it comes from, soccer will remain the greatest sport and experience ever invented.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Sven Simon
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