Once upon a time, there were no lights. There were no bleachers to watch from, no PA announcer to roar up a crowd, beckoning them to make some noise. It was a pastime, an escape, a hobby, be it recess or extracurricular. Sports were once just a fun enjoyment for all to participate in. Sure, not everyone possessed the same talent, but those who couldn’t play would eventually watch. It’s why FIFA is the most powerful sports organization in the world, even if most Americans couldn’t tell you what it stands for. Across the world, men and women, boys and girls all play soccer, footy, le foot, futbol, et cetera. Even if they no longer play in the streets, on the playground dirt, in the backyard, they can find common ground in watching the World Cup. That is what makes these FIFA Corruption allegations all the more troubling. We had heard about it for a long time, and finally the law decided to press the defense.
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Back in America, we look at FIFA as some foreign entity like some obscure country. Oh there’s corruption there? Tell me something new! FIFA is a dirty player that deserves a 15 yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, but our leagues stay in bounds, right?
Take the NFL. Instead of having a legitimate farm system, they just use college football to mine, develop, and polish future playmakers. Did I mention that it’s free?
I don’t even need to mention the bad rep of the players; domestic abuse, rap, murder, murder plus suicide, suicide. In a league whose fans love the big hits, players are delivering big hits (Hello Ray Rice!) and taking big hits off the field too - marijuana possession, possibly to cope with the pain and physicality of the sport?
When a questionable call is made in the World Cup, people instantly point fingers at that referree, and question his motives based on his nationality. Oh, he’s Italian? Must have something against the French side. Or he got bribed. But in the NFL, that can’t happen right? Zebras are always majestic and correct - unless they’re replacement refs that weren’t well-prepared to fill in for the real ones because they were on strike.
Speaking of labor unions, you think the NFL looks out for its players, refs, and other employees? I won’t need to go too deep on the concussion headlines. It’s as if a lawsuit is just waiting to happen… oh wait.
This isn’t just NFL, nor is it just FIFA. When big leagues become too big to fail, they become too distant from the essence of the game that draws upon our childhood memories. And both the NFL and FIFA know, distance makes successful kicks all the more difficult.