Growing up, I held many of the beliefs of a stereotypical American middle school student. I ate American food, I watched TV, and I played sports. To be frank, between the ages of 11 and 13 I basically followed the crowd. For example if it was cool to play basketball, basketball was suddenly my favorite sport. If sumo wrestling suddenly became popular, I would have been donning the attractive uniforms that the massive men wear to school in order to fit in.
Somewhere along the road, it became lame to play soccer. Any soccer players were immediately branded as “gay” and “field fairies.” They were also mocked for their abnormally short shorts. Some of best friends were hard-core soccer players, so whenever we played soccer, I goofed around and pretended that I didn’t care. In 2006, however, my perspective changed. In 2006, Germany hosted the World Cup. This is the tournament of all of the best national teams in the world, and is widely regarded as the greatest sporting event, after the Olympics. My best friends being soccer fans, I unwillingly agreed to spend an entire day watching the World Cup on TV. To my surprise, I was captivated. The precision of the game, the fluidity of the movements, the gracefulness combined with the aggressiveness; it all amazed me. Before I knew it, I was caught up in the world of soccer.
In two short years I went from disliking the sport to playing on a competitive traveling team. But soccer is synonymous with “outcast” in American society. I had to endure the name-calling and taunting that came with playing soccer. But being called a field fairy is a small price to pay, in my opinion.
To this day, whenever I tell someone to come to the soccer game after school, I get odd looks, and the usual response of “But there’s a football game today.” No matter. If people want to go spend their time watching our varsity football team put up six points and lose by twenty that’s fine. However, it kind of sucks looking up into the stands and seeing a handful of people scattered about the bleachers. But I have learned that soccer isn’t about fame and glory. It has taught me to be myself and not care what other people think about me. For this, I believe in soccer.
While football can glue America to its TV screens every Sunday, a simple soccer match once caused Nigeria to call a 48-hour ceasefire in their civil war so the citizens could watch the match peacefully. If you ask me, that is some field fairy magic.