A mullet, cutoff jeans, high socks, missing half of my teeth, cuts and bruises everywhere is one of the greatest childhood memories I have. No, it wasn’t the one time I dressed up as a rodeo clown for Halloween or that time my brothers convinced me to ride that sheep until it ran into a fence. It was the first time that I played organized soccer or the first time I was photographed with a team. Soccer has since evolved, and so has my love for the game.
Just like most every other American kid, I spent many hours on the asphalt of my cul de sac imagining I was Michael Jordan, making every shot I took. Or that I was Steve Young, leading that one last winning drive against the Packers or Cowboys. Soccer was the last thing on my mind. Bending it like Beckham meant exactly nothing to me. But one day I gave soccer a chance, and now I catch myself being distracted watching soccer while I should be doing homework.
I know that people have their reasons not to watch the beautiful game or the sport that most every other country absolutely adores. They don’t like to spend two hours of their life watching grown men kick a ball around, which may end without anyone scoring. People don’t like floppers — well, I guess you better turn off all that NBA coverage as well, then. It’s not appealing to people who love big hits, clutch shots and monster dunks.
In Utah we are so privileged to have one of the better clubs in Major League Soccer year in and year out. Real Salt Lake has already brought more championships to the state than any of the other professional sport teams combined. They were MLS champs back in 2009, beating the heavy favorite Los Angeles Galaxy. That team included two of the best players to ever play on the pitch in America, Landon Donovan and David Beckham. This year was what many called a rebuilding year. RSL has put together the most points in the MLS and are a heavy favorite to win the Supporters’ Shield, which is given to the top team in MLS.
Heck, we have two great soccer programs at Weber State alone. The women’s team has already started where it left off last year, winning and drawing its first two games. Y’all like national champs, don’t you? Well, the men’s soccer program has won two of those in the past four years. Pretty dang good if you ask me. I would have to say that Nick Saban might even be impressed. Those national champs walk around campus as basic unknowns, because soccer has yet to gain the respect it deserves.
This column might be a bit too late, as football season is upon us and our Saturday afternoons will be filled with watching our favorite teams on the gridiron. But give soccer a chance this fall. Recapture the love you had for the sport when you were a kid. I know it won’t let you down.