Just about everyone here on Bleacher Report has filled out the short list section on their profile. There is one question that asks; Pele or Maradona?
Many people have either left that section blank, chosen Pele simply because they don't know Diego Maradona, or have stated something along the lines of "who cares about soccer". I assume that these people are all American.
I myself am an American, however I enjoy watching a soccer game as much as a football game. I just don't understand how soccer could be popular in every country except for the United States.
This inspired me to put world football up against American football in eleven categories.
The most obvious difference. World football is actually played with the feet, and the only player that can use his hands is the goalkeeper. I'm not exactly sure how the American game got its name seeing that, apart from running, the feet are only used for kickoffs, punts, and field goals.
American football easily beats soccer in this category. Football games can go to thirty or forty points at times. A high scoring game in soccer would be a game that finishes 4-3. In soccer it is very difficult to score, and sometimes games can even go scoreless. I've heard from many Americans that this is what keeps them tuned out of soccer. They want to see a lot of scoring, and soccer just doesn't do it for them.
Something that I like about soccer. Every year there are three new teams in the league. The three worst teams get relegated to the second division. As a result the same teams don't finish at the bottom of the league each and every year. In the NFL we've seen teams such as the Dolphins and Cardinals miss the playoffs year after year. The only disadvantage with relegation is that it may get redundant. A team is relegated one year, back in two years, relegated again, etc.
With the exception of the MLS, the way to win the championship in the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, and all the other soccer leagues is to have the most points at the end of the season. Three point for a win, one for a draw, and zero for a loss. I give the football (the NFL anyway) the advantage here because they have a playoff system. The four division leaders and two wild cards from each conference play each other in a single elimination tournament to determine the champion.
Last year, however, I'm sure many Patriots fans would have preferred the soccer point system, because then they would have easily been champions.
In college football there must be a winner. In the NFL, a tie is given if the score is tied after the first overtime, however, this hasn't happened since the Steelers and Falcons tied in the 2002 season. My least favorite thing about soccer is that many games end in a draw. Many teams in the middle of the table have more draws than wins or losses. It's especially disheartening to see that ninety minutes have been played and all that's there to show for it is a 0-0 score line.
Every sport has its rivalries. Rivalries, such as the Redskins and Cowboys or the Bears and Packers in the NFL, just don't compare to Celtic and Rangers or Barcelona and Real Madrid. College football, on the other hand, has rivalries as heated soccer. Rivalries such as Alabama and Auburn, or Ohio State and Michigan are probably even more heated than any soccer rivalry.
The Super Bowl determines the clear cut champion in the NFL. In soccer, the winner of the league is the team with the most points in the standings at the end of the year. In soccer, there are also other in-season tournaments. Other teams get to hoist trophies such as the Copa Del Rey, the F.A. Cup, and the U.S. Open Cup, among many others.
Although these trophies are less significant, it gives teams something to work for when they are out contention to win the league. There is also the Champions League that pits the best clubs in Europe against each other. This is the only club competition that is more prestigious than winning your league.
Although American football is also played in places like Canada and Germany, all of the best players are in the NFL. In soccer, the best players are spread through many leagues. If you want to see Cristiano Ronaldo, you have to watch the Premier League in England. To see Kaka and Ronaldinho, you tune in to Series A in Italy. Even for those who still want to see David Beckham, they have to watch MLS in the United States. The way the players are spread out around the world makes the top leagues interesting in their own right.
The only time I've watched anything other than the NFL is when I tuned in to a handful of Toronto Argonauts games when Ricky Williams was in the CFL.
If you watch a soccer game, you can't change the channel or else you may miss a goal. I'm sure this has happened to soccer fans many times. There is only one commercial during the game, and that is at halftime. There are no timeouts either. Games are usually done in 2 hours. I enjoy watching NFL and college games, but at times it seems as if they drag on forever. The ball is snapped, the play lasts about seven seconds, back to the huddle, repeat.
There is no competition here. When the World Cup comes around, every one, including us here in the United States, watches. The 32 best countries in the world face off against each other to determine who is the best in the world. There are amazing goals, upsets, tears shed, celebrations, and everything you could ever want out of a sporting event. Even the United States national team made it to the quarterfinals as recently as the 2002 World Cup.
Seeing as football is basically just an American game, there will probably never be a football World Cup that could compete with the likes of the soccer World Cup.
Every football (American and World) player would not be at the level they're at if they didn't have passion for what they do. Despite many who say that college players have ten times more passion than the NFL players, the fact is that NFL players are still passionate about what they do. This is the one thing, if any, that World football and American football have in common.
Most Americans prefer American football, and just about every other country prefers World football. I happen to be a fan of both, and wish that soccer could be as big here as it is in other countries.