Soccer is all about the love of the game

You make your final sprint down the field. After 90 minutes of crushing tackles at your ankles, it's just you and the furious guardian of the goal. All you have to do is juke him out and you will have your whole country pumping their fists in the air at the victory -- or at least the ones who are watching.

It's time for the World Cup 2002, and other than a few die-hard fans, the games unfortunately won't get much of a following here in the USA. But why is this? Are these athletes not as skilled as the ones we pay millions to each season to whine and moan about not making more millions?

Other athletes represent a state, which most of them aren't even from, and we all rally behind the inter-state rivalries. But, when you get athletes who represent their home countries with rivalries like France vs. Brazil or USA vs. Mexico, not many people even know the chemistry behind them.

In basketball, we are amazed if a 7-foot-2, 320-pound player can lolligag down the court to catch a pass 2 inches from the hoop, jump a total of 4 inches off the ground and slam home the rock with three people half his size all up in his face.

In football, we are wooed when a quarterback can step back in the pocket with the safety of half a ton of blockers in front of him and throw a pass to a wide-open receiver sprinting down the sideline for a touchdown.


Yet, in soccer when a player, who has been in the game a whole 90 minutes and his legs are giving out from constant aggravation from tedious defenders, weaves a ball brilliantly through a goalie and defender to his forward who's making a back post run for the winning goal, not many are amazed.

Quarterbacks use their arms naturally to throw, while a soccer player must use his foot and add multiple spins and curves to land his pass directly at his teammate's foot. In basketball, the players use their hands as well to dribble in between their legs or behind their backs. When soccer players use their feet to drag the ball back into a wicked scissors move, it gets half as many "ooohs" and "ahhhs" as the basketball player.

I say let's give a special shout out to our new star Landon Donovan. What? Who's that? Is he like a Timothy Goebel performing quadruple axels with flawless technical skills? No, he's just the new 20-year-old superstar who can do all of that, but add the finishing touch of drilling the ball into the upper 90 after he's done.

In soccer there is no such thing as TV time-outs, cheerleaders or players changing teams because they aren't getting paid seven-digit salaries a year. They play because they love the game, and they are true athletes for doing this.

So I encourage you to rally behind the U.S. soccer team in its triumphs and defeats -- especially with all the tragedy our country has been through this year. It's almost a disgrace that the soccer players don't get even as much support as the good ol' Twinkies and their pathetic stadium crisis.

Kyle Eichman is a graduate from Rochester Lourdes High School. To respond to reviews in Sound &; Vision, call 252-1111, category TEEN (8336); write Teen Beat, Post-Bulletin, P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903-6118 or send e-mail to

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