Football, or soccer, is a cosmopolitan, over-arching sport that reaches people in every part of the globe, bringing hope to the hopeless and light to the darkness. This might be a slight exaggeration—but the fact that it is only slight is part of the beauty of this sport. It really does bring hope and life to places where such things are scarce.
To be totally honest, I see very little reason why this is even a competition, other than patriotism. And even in that case, soccer, I think, affords the real American sports fan more of an opportunity to be patriotic than football because soccer holds the greatest international sporting event in the world every four years (aside from, maybe, the Olympics). That’s when we get to be truly patriotic.
To be even more than totally honest, the best part of American Football is the fun that you have with your friends before games, and even during them—the point isn’t to watch the game as much as it is to get hammered with your buddies and yell obscenities. Which I love to do, and I love that about football.
But that all holds true in soccer as well, and the game itself is so much more fun to watch—rather than an excuse for networks to run beer commercials every 20 to 40 seconds, soccer is 45 minutes of uninterrupted action, punctuated by one of the most singular sensations in all of sports: the goal. There’s nothing quite like watching your team score—the infrequency of the event makes it that much more fun when it happens. There’s nothing else like it in all of sports.
It’s not even worth comparing the two sports in terms of global popularity, revenue, or the ability to bring people together; it’s not even really worth comparing them in terms of the quality of the athletic achievements—soccer players run, on average, between 4 and 7 miles a game.
And the most passionate people in the entire world are club soccer fans—and I’m not knocking football fans. I’m just saying that you might get knifed if you wear your Boca Juniors jersey to a Boca-River Plate game at River, or if you wear a Real Madrid jersey to el clásico in Barcelona, or if you wear an Arsenal or Liverpool or Chelsea jersey in Old Trafford—and on and on. I’m not even saying that this is better per se, because passion can lead to violence and racism (and soccer is known, unfortunately, for both of these things).
But nothing ties us together like soccer. I know that I can wear my Real Madrid jersey all over the world and find friends (and enemies) just because of what it means to them. Even if I don’t speak a word of their language, we can still celebrate, or cry together. Soccer is more than a sport, and that’s why it’s really the world’s sport: “football.”