Soccer Is NOT a Chess Match.

I have an Iraqi friend who obviously loves soccer more than a nice jihad, but he’s not one of those blindly one-sport people who’s unwilling to understand and appreciate all that the world of sports has to offer. He’s also a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan, which is comical. But, whenever I’m hanging out at his bar [he owns and operates Smoker’s Paradise, the local Chewer haunt] there’s always soccer or in the case of this month, college basketball [groan] on the television even though I keep reminding him that spring training baseball is underway and glorious. He, like many, find baseball to be a minor sport in the grand scheme and gets none of the “chess match” allegory to the game and I typically don’t preach about that aspect. I think baseball transcends a lot of things and for one reason or another, is perfectly hardwired to my life in a way that few things can ever be.

His argument to me when I defend baseball’s strategy, history, and the overall depth of the game and all of its specialist roles and positional requirements is to say that soccer is indeed the chess match equivalent in the sporting industry and that baseball is boring. I don’t disagree that baseball is leisurely paced, I just know that there’s so much more to the sport than meets the eye, more so than most sports. I disagree with his assessment a whole lot and it’s not just because I find soccer to be about as fun to watch as the Pinewood Derby.

The appeal of soccer is the constant motion and inability to pause to really create a deep strategy. There’s too much going on to allow for it. Soccer’s coup is its unpredictability and athleticism. There are obviously plays and formations and things teams try to do in order to score and prevent goals but it’s a much more action based way of doing things even though the last match I watched at Smoker’s Paradise went for fifty-five minutes without a goal and nothing strategic to warrant my time.

It’s not its chess-like strategic brilliance that makes soccer [or futbol or Henry’s Game or whatever else you want to call it] what it is.

Soccer is the biggest sport in the world and there’s no denying the accomplishment, but it shares too much in common with other goal-based games [hockey + football – the use of your hands + rugby] in my mind to totally stand alone. It’s a very difficult and contantly kinetic game, but it ain’t no damn chess match.

- Nick Nunziata appreciates the physical requirements to be a professional soccer player and the stamina and cardiovascular benefits of it. But seriously, get your silly shoes away from him take your silly shorts with you.