Americans Favor Football Over Soccer
By Tim Park
Have you ever played or watched American football? Unlike soccer, rough, intense, and overwhelmingly exciting American football is one of the most popular American sports, attracting thousands of participants and millions of spectators annually. American football developed in the U.S. in the 19th century from soccer and rugby in England. We can compare soccer and American football in terms of game rules, balls, and, most importantly, popularity in the U.S.First, we can compare soccer and American football in terms of game rules. A soccer game consists of two forty-five-minute halves with a ten-minute break in between. The game begins with a kickoff at the center circle with each team positioned on its own side of the field. Each team consists of 11 players, including a goalkeeper, and teams switch sides at halftime. Soccer teams move a ball along a field by dribbling, passing, heading, and kicking. The object is to score goals. A goal counts as one point and occurs when the soccer ball completely crosses the opposing goal line between the posts and under the crossbar. The team scoring the greater number of goals wins the game. If a game ends in a tie, it is declared a draw. In some leagues, a draw leads to an extra ten-minute playing period or by a series of alternating penalty kicks.
On the other hand, a football game consists of four quarters. Each quarter ranges from ten to fifteen minutes, depending on the league, and there is a break at halftime. To start a game, coin-tossing takes place to determine which team kicks off first. Similar to soccer, each team consists of 11 players, and teams switch sides after every quarter while each side is can take up to three time-outs per half.
|Kurt Warner, Quarterback |
of St. Louis Rams
Football teams move a ball along a field using passing, catching, running and kicking skills. Points add by scoring a touchdown worth six points, an extra point worth one or two points, a field goal worth three points, or a safety worth two points. A touchdown occurs when a player carries the ball or catches a pass over the opponents goal line in the end zone. The team scoring the greater number of points wins the game. If the game ends in a tie, teams may play an overtime period of sudden death in which the team that scores first wins.Second, we can compare soccer and American football in terms of balls. A soccer ball is spherical with leather or another approved outer casing. The circumference of the ball is between 68 and 70 centimeters. The weight of the ball is between 410 and 450 grams, and the pressure is about 600 to 1100 gr/cm2 at sea level. On the other hand, a football consists of an inflated rubber bladder encased in a leather or rubber cover. The ball is an extended spheroid with a circumference of approximately 72.4 centimeters around the long axis and 54 centimeters around the short axis. It weighs between 397 and 425 grams.Last and most importantly, we can compare soccer and American football in terms of popularity in the U.S. Contrary to general opinion, soccer has been around the United States for quite some time. Soccer was a popular sport among both upper-class young men in Ivy League universities and immigrant workers in the factories near the North-Eastern cities in the late 1860s. However, cultural factors, like Americans embracing innate sports such as basketball, baseball, and American football, contributed to its decline in popularity. To be more specific, in 1876, Harvard students persuaded the likes of Princeton and Yale to stop playing soccer and try the rougher, rugby-like game now known as American football. Soccer in the U.S. has been battling to establish its position as a major sport ever since. Despite failures of many professional leagues in the past, through showing good performances at major international events and successfully hosting the 1994 World Cup, Major League Soccer in the U.S. has established a strong foundation for growth. Good signs included several very successful new franchises in major cities, expansion of the amateur league, expansion of the farm club system with MLS, and raising franchise standards to take out weak teams. If Major League Soccer continues to get more sponsors and TV contracts, expand the women's leagues, and successfully administer youth leagues, soccer might become one of the most popular sports in the United States, someday. By contrast, from its birth, American football maintained its position as one of the most popular sports in the U.S.
Currently, with the support of national and cable television, all levels of football games, including professional, college, and high school, are being televised from Friday to Monday during season. At the end of each National Football League season, champions from both the National and American conferences meet in the Super Bowl to determine a national champion. This game, always played in January, has been the most watched sporting event of all time, with a viewing audience around the entire world. Television commercials take a large part of American footballs income. However, the competition between networks for the coverage rights also boosted the value of the American football industry. When looking at the statistics, in 1920, a professional football franchise cost 100 dollars. By 1960, each was worth approximately 2 million dollars. In 1993, when the National Football League decided to expand, the cost rose to one 140 million dollars per franchise. In the same year, the NFL signed a five-network, four-year television contract, totaling almost 4.5 billion dollars.In conclusion, we have compared soccer and American football in terms of game rules, balls, and, most importantly, popularity in the U.S. Although American football developed in the United States in the 19th century from soccer and rugby in England, it is one of the most popular American sports, attracting thousands of participants and millions of spectators annually. Why not try watching an American football game next time you turn on the television?
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Tim Park serves as U.S. correspondent for The Seoul Times. Park majored in Management Information Systems at Arizona State University. He also studied Business at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.