Things I Like and Dislike about Soccer

It’s the World Cup right now, if you haven’t already noticed. Not sure how you could miss it, what with all the hoopla online about it. I don’t typically care for soccer at all, but having lived in Germany for two years, I at least understand why there might be some appeal there for some people. And so when the World Cup rolls around every four years, I typically make an effort to watch some of the games, just to see what everyone’s talking about.

This year has been different so far. I’ve been watching games and . . . actually enjoying them. Why is that? I wanted to take a few moments to figure out what I like–and dislike–about soccer.


  • The rules are fairly simple: run around a bunch and try to get the ball into the goal. Yes, there are some random things in there that make me scratch my head, but it helps that I finally figured out what being “offsides” meant in soccer. Which I found out because I went to an ice hockey game with a fan, and he explained the principles to me in ice hockey. Look at me–branching out so much! In any case, you can watch soccer and not be confused about what’s happening, most of the time.
  • No ads or time outs. This is a wonder. You can start watching the game and just watch the game. No need for commercial breaks or any of that garbage. American Football is so much standing around and measuring things. I love how soccer is just the basics: ball into the goal. Don’t stop until that happens.
  • I enjoy watching these grown men freak out and go sprawling to the ground, writhing in agony any time anyone else on the field breathes on them wrong. Seriously. You want to see some good acting? Watch a few soccer matches.
  • No vuvuzelas this year. ‘Nuff said.


  • Ties. I’m against them, pretty much across the board. If I spend a couple hours of my life watching something, I don’t want it to have been a waste. Watching people play for 90 minutes to end up 0-0? Ridiculous. Who won? I NEED CLOSURE.
  • Related to this, how people go insane over an actual goal. Not that I can blame them. The scores are few and far enough between that it’s no wonder everyone’s excited when a ball finally goes into the goal. But can you imagine players celebrating that much every time they made a basket? Seriously, people. Calm down. Act like you’ve been there before.
  • Running. And running. And running. Sometimes it can feel like soccer is nothing but a disguised marathon, with all the excitement of watching a marathon on TV. (Hint: I don’t watch marathons on TV.) In fact, I wonder if that’s not how soccer started. Some guy got bored running a marathon, and so he decided to kick a ball around a bit while he was doing it. Others joined in, and voila! Soccer.

I don’t know enough about the game yet to really appreciate the strategy that goes into it. I’m beginning to get some inkling about how important substitutions are, and I’ve gotta give those guys props for running around as much as they do for as long as they do. They look completely drained by the end of the game. But in any case, it’s been fun to watch some games this year. The US/Ghana match was incredibly exciting, and it’s the first time I can remember being genuinely invested in a soccer game.

Maybe the entire rest of the world isn’t crazy, after all.

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