Playing Soccer For the Joy

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NBC Sports

By Michael Shanks

Over the centuries, we keep coming back to the same basic grass soccer fields and indoor gyms to do our bidding with the soccer ball at our feet. Kids in many countries still play barefoot with a soccer ball that they have to create themselves. Kids in Brazil still play in the streets on their own, trying new tricks and moves that they see Ronaldinho and Messi and Ronaldo do.

Why do we love this game, which to an outsider would appear so pointless and probably stupid (see just a game). Why do we pay horrendous amounts of money to see the best soccer players in the world play the game?

First and foremost, the game is fun. There is no doubting that, as it has been the resounding opinion of the masses for centuries.

Second, there exist theories that sports fulfill somewhat of a genetic void that we have in our modern lives. We genetically have built-in the desire for strong natural connections. Frank Deford of Sports Illustrated poses an intriguing question as to why we love sports:

“It’s easy to stereotype sports fans as troglodytes — Get a life, bozo! — but I have, contrariwise, often wondered if fans take more interest in government than people who are not fans, if sports fans care more and vote more — because they do feel a greater sense of belonging to the place whose team they root for”.

A case study that would produce results as he says would be fascinating.

There are not many mysteries left in the world. Maybe sports provide us with a sense of anticipation for something we can never fully predict: what will happen, and who will win the soccer game.

That’s why we loves to watch World Cup finals and the Champions League and so on, we just don’t know who’s going to win the game or the tournament. We think of course that Brazil should most likely win or maybe Spain, but there’s the chance that a small country could topple a giant so that’s why we tune in. And just how much does that mean to a country where there is no other sport. There’s no other professional league of any kind than football / soccer. It’s not like in the United States where there’s four big pro sports leagues. Yes, football is a religion on many countries. It’s all they have sometimes.

Ronaldinho’s joy for the game of soccer. He’s always played like a kid.

As a young footballer / soccer player Ronaldinho was told to stop dribbling so much and he needed to be more serious if he wanted to make it as a professional. Funny to look back on that and see how far Ronaldinho got as a soccer player – as in the best player in the world. Ronaldinho used that as motivation and always remembered to play the game with joy. In a sense, Ronaldinho never grew up. He always played like a kid in the streets and he remembered that: creativity will take you further than calculation.

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