Open Mic: Soccer, Rugby Require Great Athletes, but Lack the Spotlight

April BrownContributor IJune 23, 2008

Would it make a difference if America’s top athletes opted to play soccer instead of football, basketball, etc.?


Some of America’s upper echelon athletes are considered to be true athletes; they could shine in any sport arena.

How well, though?

Just because an athlete has excelled in her or his respective sport, does not mean that they can stand out in a different sport.  I think that if the top athletes opted to play soccer, then they may not be the “top” athletes.

They may not be the next Pele, but they may be winners.

Winning is all about “mentality.”

You can “will” yourself to success, but it doesn’t mean that you will exceed everyone else.

If some of these same athletes played for the U.S.A. MNT, I think the soccer team would rank among the top fifteen in the world.  I am not too confident that they would be among the top five teams, even if these athletes grew up playing soccer.

First of all the top athletes’ physical ability would differ.

In order to play football, Tiger’s build, workmanship, and intelligence would have a different focus, which does not guarantee that he would be a superb football athlete. If Tiger Woods played basketball, who’s to say that he would be at the top of this game.

Yes, Tiger definitely has the stamina and the will to be a winner, but there is different competition in the NBA.

Not everyone can qualify for that job!

Look at how many NBA potentials are sitting home, watching with a plate of hot wings and a cold one.

Playing for the NFL is difficult as well.

From the mouth of Jerry Glanville, ex-Atlanta Falcons’ head coach, “…NFL means not for long…”.  The competition is such that you have to be a superb being in order to become a part of the few “chosen.”  

The U.S. soccer team may rank higher, but that would insinuate that the top athletes are just phenomenal, all-around athletes and could excel in any sport.

Can anyone say Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson and Deon Sanders?


Mr. Sanders is the only one out of the three that sustained success in sports, two championship appearances, and a homerun and a punt return for a touchdown within the same week.

How is his golf game?

Although they played two different sports, these sports were not on opposite ends of the sports spectrum.  I don’t think that Dwyane Wade or Kobe Bryant would be phenoms, but perhaps they would be successful if they played tennis and basketball.

They have the capabilities to win, but to be outstanding?

I don’t think so.

The best pound-for-pound athletes from a physical perspective would have to be either basketball players or soccer players.

These athletes are constantly “on the go.”

You need to be in excellent physical condition in order to maintain that “lifestyle.” I feel that the athletes’ body is subjected to strenuous physical activity.

Rarely can you find an oversized soccer player.

The most mental toughness to overcome obstacles would have to be tennis players.

They have to tough it out in many aspects.

When they are down, they have to prepare themselves to come back.  They don’t have teammates on which they can rely.  Basically, it is their personal fortitude and stamina that determines their success.   

I am not sure as to which athletes have the necessary skills to succeed in other sports, because, so many of them are one dimensional.

You could argue that Kobe is a pure athlete, and therefore could be successful in another sport.  Not many players participate in two sports at the professional level.

What I do know is that soccer players could definitely become punters and kickers in the NFL.  Tennis players could make strong baseball hitters, because of the swing form and follow through that is a replica of a baseball swing.  Hockey players could become talented golfers, because hockey players have to “own” and “control” the puck, just as a golfer “owns” and “controls” the ball.

The golfer and hockey player knows how and when to hit with the right gentle or aggressive stroke.

Soccer is not as popular here in the States like it is elsewhere.

Money isn’t pumped into soccer at the local level. Soccer doesn’t get much publicity.

The NFL, NBA, and the MLB are well marketed.

The NFL reigns supreme!

I don’t think that young American athletes would want to play soccer or rugby if they could make the NBA dollars while nobody watches and there are no endorsements opportunities.

Will this cultural dynamic ever change?

Only if soccer and rugby maintain a steady following that spends hundreds of thousands of dollars at the sporting events.

Once corporations see how much money is to be made, then maybe the dynamics would change.  Here in DC the winds of change are coming—DC United is proposed to getting a new stadium.