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For a number of reasons, I'm a football guy.
This job, however, pushes one into having an appreciation for many other sports. For example, I never really watched much softball before I took on this gig. Now, because it is so fast-paced and spirited, it's one of my favorite sports.
Soccer is among the cornucopia of sports I get to cover. Over the years, though, I've found a few things that are troublesome in soccer.
The primary complaint against the sport is that soccer is boring: i.e. low-scoring.
Far better brains (with far stronger ties to the sport) have tried to convince people otherwise. You pay good money for this newspaper, and I owe you more than the a tirade in which I call soccer a boring sport.
Besides, I have other complaints. For instance, soccer is (wrongly) considered to be a no-contact sport.
I always find it somewhat humorous when I hear a mother state that she's encouraging little Chadwick to play soccer instead of football because, "Football's so dangerous and I don't want Chadwick to get hurt."
That's kind of like saying that you don't want your darling driving a car because there are so many automobile accidents. Therefore, you're encouraging young Chadwick to ride a motorcycle.
True, soccer does not have as high an injury rate as does football. It does, however, have its fair share of risk. Most studies I've seen have the sport highly-ranked when it comes to injury rates.
I've seen more than my share of kids getting hauled off the field in obvious pain.
Remember, they're going full speed with nary a piece o' padding between them.
Second, "the wall." This abomination occurs when a team is awarded a direct free kick. The opposing team has the option of setting up a wall of players. This group stands no closer than 10 yards from the ball and in a line with the goal they are defending.
The team awarded the free kick then (usually) blasts the ball over the wall in an attempt to score. Often, the ball doesn't quite make it over the wall. Oh, yeah. Members of the wall face the kicker.
This is unusually cruel, in my opinion. Who would opt to be a part of this madness called the wall? Is this some part of the punishment?
Additionally, the only things these wallers have to defend themselves with is their hands, and that soccer ball will soon be launched like a rocket from a mere 10 yards away.
Given the option of putting their hands in front of their faces or, ahem, somewhere else, most opt for the lower-body coverage. Either way, it's a dangerous ploy.
The weirdest part is that the ref typically has to order the wall to step back, because the players are too close to said impending rocket.
Let me tell you, if I had the misfortune of being assigned to the wall, I'd only show if I could do so in a suit of armor.
Third, the urgency with which players call for the ball is unsettling.
When a ball is kicked out of bounds, a replacement ball is provided by the ball boys (or girls) who patrol the sidelines. Typically, the player who is throwing in the ball will call for it with an urgency that rivals Chris Christie's pleas to pass the Cheez Whiz.
I hope every soccer player becomes a doctor. I want that sense of urgency from my physician when I arrive at the ER, a jar of Cheez Whiz having been cracked over my coconut by Gov. Christie.
Fourth, there is a sense of false obsequiousness, particularly from the fans. This comes in the form of using the term "sir" in yelling toward the ref. As in, "Sir, would you get your head out of your fanny?"
I am reminded of a peer when I was a second lieutenant. He felt he had it all figured out in a five-word package. To a superior officer, he'd say, "With all due respect, Sir, I think you're incompetent."
Then, when the bricks rained down on him, he'd say, "But I said 'with all due respect'!"
I'm pretty sure that when he left the army he hadn't been promoted beyond butter-bar.
Fifth, the fact that I had to look up the word "obsequiousness." I take issue with any sport that makes me do that.
Sixth, and lastly, the sport is the only one I've had the privilege of covering when a local team won a State championship: the JF boys in 2011.
I have an awfully hard time not embracing a sport that delivered that experience.
Covering that State title run was a great time. Even for an old football fan.