For matter of this reading, Soccer is called football
It is not easy quitting doing something you love. As I turn 21 years old in a few months, I’ve never thought I’d feel this sad when having to quit playing Football. I’ve had sports all my life, and played competitively at least for 15-16 years of it, but for the last 3-4 years, football has been my all. My pastime, turning to variations of it whenever I feel bored (such as Football videogames, watching games on TV, reading books on it, or just simply playing it. My distractions, as whenever I’m too swamped and stressed with schoolwork i could look forward to either practices or games. My teacher, as it taught me about places I’ve never heard of, nor we have talked about in school, and about historic situations in the world that I’ve never seen before. The religious war that continues being expressed in the Old Firm (Catholic Celtic vs. Protestant Rangers in Scotland), the racism in some parts of Europe (the headline of Italian Mario Balotelli as King Kong after leading his country to the final in 2012 UEFA Euro being a prime example), and more. These are cases that makes a person think about the notions of football as “more than a sport” and that it “never ends”. But: Is it more than a sport? Does it end?
When you quit playing in leagues, it starts feeling like something is missing. That’s even though you still have football in a million other forms still present, even inserting itself in different socio-political situations, like the ones mentioned above. In different countries, or between countries, football has caught different meanings. You could go ask Argentinians or brits about how the football match always contains a slightly different flavor than any other match because of the conflict of the Malvinas, or Falkland Islands, or go watch “El Clásico” (F.C. Barcelona vs. Real Madrid), mostly when played in Barcelona, where most culés (what the team fans and players are nicknamed) in the crowd wave separatist flags and flash and yell separatists propaganda, as many Catalans want to be separated from Spain. Taking it up a notch, there are tournaments where -at least in starting rounds-nations are not allowed to face each other, as it would bring together crowds from countries that have political differences and could spark a fight or a riot. This does not happen in other sports (to where my knowledge is), as some countries that are kept from facing each other in football often play each other. This particular difference would make the answer seem like yes; it is more than a sport. But this also begs the following question: How can something that is inserted in almost every controversy have an ending point?
This also brings a different question to play: Does any sport have an ending point? The answer for this could be yes. If you’re from a particular country, and play another sports, let’s say, basketball, you could see basketball end in your life when you quit. Why? because you can travel to a country and never see a basketball game or its promotion, and/or, you can see a basketball game and let it end in the court, whereas Football keeps being brought up in politics. Basketball (and most other sport’s) teams usually do not represent a specific part of the community. You can play for a team, do every ritual or custom you have without being judged by it (of course, not when it’s political or offensive to a group), and go to the rival team without any major repercussion apart from the traditional criticism by fans and the press.
Knowing that other sports could have an end, let’s go back to the original question. Football seems to be endless. As the most played sport in the world (in part because of its simplicity, only a ball and you’re good to go), Football has caught the implications mentioned above, and more. As it can lead to violence, it also can lead to political talks (Turkey and Armenia, for example). It can work in changing politics, establishing relations and resolving problems between two sides. But what about countries in which it does not have that kind of repercussion? Living in Puerto Rico, i can see the unimportance of football, and the rather importance of other sports; like baseball. However, I live in a country that does not have that many relations in the world, and whose parent country (although the official name is associate), The United States of America, has relations based in pure political power (Although the sport of football is being used to make internal politic changes, see the case of the US National Women’s Team against the US Soccer Federation on wage discrimination). It its in these countries where you can see football having a final point. Where putting a stop in your career and turning off international television could mean it not being in your life at all, meaning that only your personal fondness of the sport is the only way you notice it. It’s in these countries where you see it not being precisely needed; it being only a part of doing exercise, or having fun. If you go to any person in the streets that does not know about the sport and talk to them about these implications, they would say that those people are crazy letting something as trivial as a sport have that much importance and dictate so much in their lives as a community.
The answer, in all of this, is that it all depends on where you are from and who you are. Is it more than a sport? it can be. If you live in Barcelona, it could mean a way of expressing your political concern. If you live in certain places, you could fight against racism through it. In the US, it is taken as a way to fight against sexist discrimination. It is in those cases that it takes form of a tool for expression and causes. Personally, for me, it is never going to have an end, whereas, for other people, it will never even get a start. You could live a life without noticing the sport, or it could mean a lot, depending on where you are born. In our political status as a country, it does not mean anything, nor it will cause any changes. It stays existing and taking more ground, but only as leisure.