Football has a long history that I’ve just been exposed to. The first formal rules formulated in Britain in 1863 have allowed this game to become an organized world wide sport.
For myself, American soccer origins began in grade school. Looking back, I now see how the game we played was a mongrelized and perverted version as we commingled in the rules of baseball with it. We called it kick ball.
This was probably the invention of well meaning gym (athletic) teachers and coaches. The predominant organized school sports were football, basketball and baseball.
For those of us that weren’t particularly gifted with speed, height or good hand eye coordination there was kick ball. That kept us off the premier playing fields and still gave us an athletic activity.
A truer introduction to the game of football occurred while I was in the military service.
Fresh out of military boot camp I was shipped off to a training facility with several thousand additional testosterone filled youths. Some bright aspiring officer thought it would be a good idea to give all these men a sporting activity, soccer, to help fill the remainder of the days when the military couldn’t keep us fully occupied.
What a disaster.
They gave us the balls, the goals, rules of the game and a place to play. They went to the effort of having sign-ups to create teams and a league.
In their infinite wisdom the military made no provisions to provide officials. They allowed the players to officiate our own games.
We observed the rules as best we could but competition often got the better of us. It was considered a good game when the majority of your teammates survived to play the next opponent.
This little experiment survived for about two months. It seems the infirmary on base was being overloaded with sports injuries.
Years later, my son chose to join a junior soccer league. Finally, I was forced to learn proper play of the game.
Through this experience I have developed an appreciation of skills, athleticism and stamina that are required to be professionally proficient in this sport.
Much like my son, who is now grown, those children that played the real game of football, those are the fans of this sport in the United States. This sport is slowly starting to make an impact in America.
I don’t know if it will ever be as prolific or profitable as our most popular sports but right now it’s bigger than kick ball.
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