August 30, 2022

CHASEN | Why Cornellians Should Care About Soccer

Print More

When most Americans think about major sports, soccer is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. Soccer seems to be perpetually on the verge of breaking through with the wider public, but never capable of taking that final step into the mainstream. Even though I barely played the sport as a kid, I now never consider my weekend to be complete without watching a little soccer on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

I first became interested in soccer because I’m an early riser who was looking for stuff to do on a Saturday morning. I was flipping through the channels looking for something to watch and settled on a game on NBC between Watford and Manchester United. While I could tell pretty quickly that Watford was the huge underdog in the game, I was immediately struck by the roar of their crowd. I could sense the community that soccer created, in a place I’d never even heard of, over 3,000 miles from where I was sitting. I needed to know more.

But I know — soccer is boring. The players flop all the time. There’s no scoring. There are even games that end in ties (!). It seems ridiculous that a sport like that is the most popular on the planet. So why should you, a Cornellian who has much better things to do with your weekend, become a soccer fan?

First, Cornellians are busy. From classwork to prelims to clubs to sports, people have a lot going on every week. Students may not have time to watch a baseball or football game, which may take anywhere from three to five hours. On the other hand, the vast majority of soccer games are over within two hours. In fact, while other sports are inundated with timeouts and commercials, there are zero commercials during the game itself. The only time you’ll see any ads is during the 15-minute halftime break.

Secondly, soccer is not as different from major American sports as you may think. A football, baseball or basketball game may have more points on the scoreboard at the end of a game. But, those games almost always come down to just a few moments. In any given game, one touchdown, home run or three-pointer may define the outcome of a game. It’s the same in soccer. One goal, save, free kick or missed chance may make the difference between an ecstatic home crowd and a devastated one. 

Similar to other sports, you’ll grow to appreciate the strategy and tactics behind the game as you watch more matches. You’ll notice the differences between Manchester City’s possession-based style and Liverpool’s vicious pressing. Soon, you’ll become more excited and intrigued by all the storylines behind the sport, from the emergence of more American players and coaches in the Premier League to the corruption present in the sport’s governing bodies.

Furthermore, soccer has allowed me to learn a great deal about the world we live in. By watching the English Premier League I have learned about the different regions of the UK, from the beautiful beaches of the South Coast to the rich history of the northern cities like Manchester and Liverpool. Furthermore, I have grown to understand European culture, business and politics through the prism of soccer. Whether you are a government major looking to understand the intricacies of global politics, or a Dyson student interested in the business side of a global sport, soccer can be enjoyed from a myriad of different perspectives.

Lastly, soccer has provided a great source of community for me in the seven years since that Watford v.s. Manchester United game. I’ve made some of my best friends through our mutual love of the sport, and it has become a weekend ritual, regardless of whether I’m in Ithaca or at home in New York City. I’ve even been fortunate enough to see my favorite Premier League teams in-person in London. 

So, if you have a moment over the course of the semester, take a moment to watch a soccer game, whether it’s Cornell Soccer or the Premier League. Join a fan club, or if you’re of age, check out some of the great sports bars in the Ithaca area. Support your local Major League Soccer team. But most importantly, take time to savor the community that the beautiful game has provided for fans of all backgrounds across the globe.

Isaac Chasen (he/him) is a senior in the Dyson School. He can be reached at [email protected]. Cut to the Chase runs alternate Tuesdays this semester.