The World of Soccer
One object that is important to me personally would be my soccer ball. The soccer ball is something that is important to me on a daily basis because there are so many things associated with soccer that I do ritually. For example, I meet with friends who play soccer, I exercise and practice with my soccer ball daily, and I even walk around my dorm with my soccer ball at my feet. The soccer ball is an object that symbolizes unity, in every sense of the word.
The game of soccer that is associated with the ball has been with us for hundreds of years. Until just recently, it was always assumed that soccer’s roots lied in England (Athletic). In 2011, a book was discovered which was written by a citizen from Scotland, talking about a game where two teams played with a ball on a field about the size of our current pitches (Athletic). This book “was written in the fourteenth century, more than 400 years before the English FA was formed”, thus disproving that point. There was also a soccer ball found in Scotland which dates back to the fifteenth century, further supporting that claim. No matter who found it first, however, the fact that the game is still alive and well is something to be happy about.
Soccer has a huge impact on many different cultures, directly or indirectly. It is a game that can bring pride and honor to your country, as well as bring everyone together under a united country. For example, “when Real Sociedad, the pride of the Basque country, comes up against Real Madrid, the soccer symbol of the Spanish crown, it’s more than simply an athletic spectacle involving 22 men and a ball” (Karon). The people who are rooting for their respective team comes together to cheer on the team that they are supporting, unifying them under this soccer match. As well as bringing people from their own country together, soccer brings together people from other countries as well. Looking at the French national team or Holland national team is enough to prove this point.
In fact, the leader of France’s right wing, Jean Marie Le Pen, “long ago disowned it as ‘not a real French team.’ Every player but two in its starting lineup has roots in Africa” (Karon).
The world is changing, and soccer is a very clear representation of that change.
Soccer unifies different cultures, even in the roughest circumstances. For example, “when British soldiers in Afghanistan and southern Iraq wanted to befriend the locals, they played a soccer match. On Christmas Day, 1914, British and German soldiers in the First World War trenches did the same thing” (Szymanksi). When you are on the field, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from, all that matters is working together with your teammates to achieve the win. It promotes unity through the very way it is structured. There are 11 players on one team, so that means 11 people are meant to work together and pass each other the ball to score a goal. Teamwork is very important, and you cannot win without it. That is why soccer is such a phenomenon in the world today, because it embodies teamwork in many different ways.
Not only culturally, but soccer also has its impact on the world economically. Soccer brings in huge revenue for countries, and the amount of money that the star players like Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi makes is unbelievable. This shows how important soccer is to our world. There is no end to the amount of ways that revenue is generated, from selling replicas of uniforms, to advertisements, TV rights, corporate sponsorship, etc. There is a huge market in just buying and trading players, as many are worth tens of millions of dollars. It is crazy to think about the amount a human being can be worth, just due to the fact that they are good at the game of soccer. In fact, the FIFA World Cup in 2014 had a direct impact on Brazil’s economy. They spent approximately $11 Billion on the tournament, anticipating major revenue generation from tourists and the event itself. They also predicted an estimated 3.6 million new jobs and add 4% a year to the country’s economic growth due to this event (Harris). With its huge impact on the economy, soccer has solidified a place for itself in the world.
One thing about the soccer ball that relates to me personally is that it is something that breaks down barriers and builds strong relationships with people. When my cousin came to America from Korea, there was so much that I did not know about him, so there were obviously many problems I had with him as well. For one thing, he moved into my house, and took my room and my bed. I was moved to the spare room, but had to sleep on a couch for the first two weeks since the spare room didn’t have a bed. That wasn’t too much of an issue for me, but it still bothered me a little bit. Another thing that bothered me about him was that I could not understand anything he wanted to tell me, and vice versa. Whenever we tried to have a conversation, we would need to pull out our phones and use google translate, which was a huge hassle when he wanted help with homework since he would ask the meaning for the simplest things. Honestly, in the beginning, we were almost like enemies.
However, one day, I noticed my cousin practicing soccer in my backyard. He was just running around with the ball, and it looked like a lot of fun. I went out and asked him if I could join him. Before this, I had never played soccer before, so obviously I was a hardcore beginner. As I was fumbling with the soccer ball trying to master it, my cousin showed me the proper techniques and I saw myself improving. It was so much fun, that when my cousin decided to join a local soccer club, I joined with him. When I arrived to the first club practice, I looked around and was so intimidated. The players all look like they’ve been playing for years and here I was trying to join them with no experience at all. However, my cousin reassured me that I would be fine, and by the end of the practice, everyone welcomed me to the club.
This experience of belonging to the club and trying to be friends with my cousin led me to practice soccer more and more. In fact, it was almost a stress reliever for me when I felt overwhelmed by life at home and school, to just come out to the field with my cousin and kick the ball around. After about a year passed, everyone commented on how much I had improved since the first time I joined. I felt proud to be able to call myself a soccer player and felt like the team was my family. The soccer ball helped me improve my relationship with my cousin and helped to build new ones with my club team. It really defined itself as a unifying factor in many of the friendships that I have created these past years.
“Athletic Scholarships.” Soccer History. How Soccer Was Invented. NCSA Athletic Recruiting, n.d. Web. 19 May 2015.
Boehm, Charles. “World Cup: U.S. Soccer Welcomes Record TV Ratings, but Cultural Shift Matters More.” Soccer Wire. The Soccer Wire, 25 June 2014. Web. 19 May 2015.
Harris, Wes. “FIFA World Cup Financial Impact to Brazil Economy.”Business of Soccer. Business of Soccer, 20 June 2014. Web. 19 May 2015.
Karon, Tony. “What Soccer Means to the World.” Time. Time Inc., 21 July 2004. Web. 19 May
Szymanksi, Stefan, and Andrew Zimbalist. “Why the Rest of the World Plays Soccer.” NPR. NPR, 5 Apr. 2005. Web. 19 May 2015.