I happened across a quote today that sums up pretty nicely, to my eyes anyway, what makes soccer such an involving spectator sport. It’s one of those things you wish you could show to all the soccer-bashers out there, to show them what makes this sport seem not so much unique as intense. That’s significant because, of all aspects of the game, you get the feeling that the intensity of the game translates last to non-soccer people – e.g., it’s the thing they get last about the game. Anyway, here’s the quote (it came out of this article, which happens to be about the U-Mass’ run toward the NCAA College Cup):
“‘I remember looking up at the clock, and I think there were 24 minutes left and it was still 0-0,’ [U-Mass coach Sam] Koch said. ‘Yes, we had the advantage on shots [21-9], we had the advantage on possession, but the game could quickly change. One breakaway and you could be down 1-0, no matter what you’ve been doing. The closer we got to the end of the game with a 0-0 score, the more anxiety I was feeling.'”
Even if “intensity” might not capture the concept perfectly, what “Coch” Koch describes does. I know that a soccer-bashers, like, say, a cop writing you a speeding ticket, respond poorly to reasoned argument. But the “nothing happens” sentiment bespeaks a kind of ignorance about the game. Something is always happening. And that “something” can prove pivotal in a flash.
And here’s another theory: the minute someone gets this, they become a fan. Or at least a quiet by-stander.