Let's talk about futbol, or soccer, call it as you wish. It is the sport and not the name that brings people together.
Ann Coulter, a syndicated-columnist, published a rather provocative article where she addresses nine points on how soccer and the culture around it are proof of a country's decaying moral standards. Her empty claims show a lack of vision and an overall weak understanding of athletic and cultural virtues.
First, she questions the legitimacy of athletic expression within the sport. She claims there is no individual achievement. Now, hold on. In a sport where you're required to run up and down -- she got that one right -- 110-120 yards repeatedly (FIFA standard measurement of a soccer field) while juggling a ball and an opposing player while rapidly changing directions, pattern of movement and speed, we have no proof of athletic expression at all?
If the prospect of either personal humiliation or major injury is required for it to count as a sport, as she says, then that's covered -- e.g. in 2008 Da Silva had a broken fibula and dislocated his ankle while playing for Arsenal. And yet, that's not the make up of a sport. But rather, it is the prospect of team building where you foster personal amelioration, both physically and mentally.
If that's not convincing here's a clip of Ronaldo's sprinting ability tested against a professional sprinter. It shows the player's precision in speed and accuracy. Just a few of the things that set him apart from other, less talented, players.
Any game and sport, be it chess, football or mixed martial arts, will find itself stalled if both parties are of similar caliber. But, you don't have to look past this World Cup to see what happens if a team doesn't have its head in the game: Spain, winner of the 2010 Cup, suffered a demoralizing defeat, 5-1, against Netherlands.
Then, the sexual, racial and ethnic undertones in her rhetoric dilute her rant further. She says: "...athletic talent finds so little expression that girls can play with boys. No serious sport is co-ed, even at the kindergarten level." Some of the most amazing athletes I know are women. And you know how they started? They didn't listen when someone told them they couldn't play with the boys. Regardless of whether a professional sport is co-ed or not, a healthy challenge from an early age is important and I assure you that if you walk to a park you'll see children of all genders playing a game of touch football or perhaps college students entranced in a game of Ultimate Frisbee. Let's have more co-ed sports in schools. Let the boys learn from the girls and the girls learn from the boys.
She commented on soccer being a foreign sport and being fed to Americans along the metric system. An inch is now a standard of measurement (1 inch = 2.54 centimeters). You're one of three countries in the world (along with Liberia and Myanmar) who stubbornly refuse to adopt a rational decimal system of measurement. An inch is the width of a man's thumb, you say? A person's size is a poor standard of measurement, it is too subjective, and it's that simple. Dwayne Johnson would get more out of his 13-inch computer than my mother would.
Lastly, Ms. Coulter, you're right, soccer is a foreign sport. But the increased popularity in a foreign sport proves the resolve millions of Americans have in breaking out of their backyard and striving towards understanding other countries and cultures; something that the U.S has been criticized for never legitimately attempting. It is a step in the right direction of sharing, not conquering or leading, other communities and cultures.