The best season is finally here: autumn. The air gets cooler, days become shorter, trees lose leaves, and my farmer’s tan will even out to a beautiful pasty white. Summer’s blistering heat finally dissipates, as comfortable weather settles in for a few months. It’s a time where I can say goodbye to sunburns, dysfunctional air conditioners in my bedroom, and dehydration. Don’t get me wrong; I love the summer. I mean, who couldn’t? But, with the departure of summer comes the arrival of one thing: football.
That’s right, the most popular sport is back and my favorite team has started off on the right foot. There’s nothing like watching 22 players battling it out on the pitch. The goals, corner kicks, and saves are just some of the things that make the 90 minutes of play exciting every fall. Wait, did you think I was talking about the NFL? I should have said soccer.
The start of a new academic year brings the start of men’s and women’s soccer. The men come into this season after a disappointing early exit in the playoffs last year. With some new additions to the squad and returning talent, the men’s soccer team looks to be in good shape. On the women’s side, the team starts its run at an unprecedented fourth straight Great Northeast Athletic Conference championship.
There’s no denying the success of both teams, regardless of how much or little someone enjoys soccer. Why exactly aren’t we attached to soccer as we are to football? America is hands on in so many aspects, whether it’s building our houses and cities, on the job, or within sports. The four major American sports emphasize the use of hands, especially in football. It’s quite ironic of football to carry its name. Yet, the most popular sport in the world is one that prohibits the use of hands, with the exception of the goalie. On one hand is the emphasis of a great goalie, and on the other is the expendability of a kicker or punter (Zoltan Mesko being a prime example). They’re polar opposites, really.
When it comes down to it, the NFL appeals to Americans for its physicality, as soccer appeals to the globe for its simplicity. Soccer has no flags, challenges, or even rules preventing a dance after scoring. Teams only substitute players three times in a match, as opposed to football’s constant personnel changes. Soccer allows constant game play without stopping the clock or match for flags, penalties, or commercial breaks.
So what exactly is the point I’m trying to make in this comparison of American and international football? That the sport we played at the age of six and probably never looked at afterwards isn’t as dumb as people make it out to be. Soccer might not have the punishing hits. It may not be every Sunday. It certainly doesn’t match up in player size. But soccer is such an incredible sport to watch, whether it’s the English Premier League or the Lasell College Lasers. Watching soccer at Lasell has strengthened my love for the game. So, for the fourth straight autumn, I’ll be following the start of two sports: football and football.