Of all the sports in the world, none is more widely loved, embraced and worshiped than the game of football (see: futbol, calcio, futebol, soccer, etc.). Of all the upper-echelon professional sports in the U.S., soccer, as we Americans know it, is the most neglected, overlooked and underrated of all.
Though professional soccer may not be widely accepted within the States, most American sports fans do recognize the rest of the globe’s love affair with the game. While the NBA fields the occasional Argentine, Spanish or Chinese player, pro “footballers” around the world compete for spots to play with athletes from every continent on the map.
Even from my limited experience, I can plainly see that the passion of the common loyal fan at a soccer match is all but guaranteed to bubble over come game time and spill over into a collage of banners, flags, scarves and streamers drowned in rallying songs and chants. These lovers of football feel like they are just another member of the team, supporters of a game that is always liable to turn on its face at any moment and for ninety minutes there is a constant momentum, an undying energy that fills soccer stadiums worldwide.
I know how hard it is for Americans to follow the international game, especially compared to our more favored domestic sports. With as little fair coverage and as much alienation with which the American sports media presents soccer, it is no wonder to me that most of us still have never heard of Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Steven Gerrard.
With all of this trouble, I can understand how most American sports fans just deny pro soccer’s viability, but there is a professional league in our country that is developing at an exponential pace. Don’t be so fast to discredit the legitimacy of MLS, a league who at present time has 13 teams and will have 15 by 2010. Which brings me to my final point, directed at you, Sam Houston student/sports fan. About 60 miles south on I-45, one of the elite professional soccer clubs in all of North America, Central America and the Caribbean has won two MLS championships in its first two seasons at its new home. The Houston Dynamo is a powerhouse of American soccer, fielding exciting, award-winning playmakers such as Dwayne De Rosario and young, local up-and-comers such as Stuart Holden who will play for our country’s honor in the Olympics later this year in Beijing.
Some of the best soccer this side of the globe is being played in your backyard. Take my word and then the opportunity to be a part of something great, something new, something exciting and engaging. If you’re a sports fan, you’re already half way there. Just give the beautiful game a better chance.