Sunday, January 6, 2013

Soccer is more democratic than American football

American football is an awesome game of strength, strategy, power, and hierarchy. A typical professional American football team has 53 players on the roster. Of these 45 can be active on the day of the game. However, only 11 players can be on the field at any given time. There are hundreds of additional staff on an NFL team: coaching, technical, administrative, and leadership. The coaching staff count alone is about 20 per team.

Surely, given the numbers above, and for all intents and purposes an American football team has actually 4 teams (offense, defense, special teams, and reserves).

The quarterback is the team captain of sorts but he is active only when the team is on the offense, obviously. The quarterback has king-like attributes, if you will. He decides the plays to be made -together with the help of the coaching staff-, the players he will pass the ball to,  the tempo of the game, and his performance greatly affects the scoring performance of the team. The American football is highly hierarchical and based on directives. It lack too much creativity and spontaneity. It is a rigid and command driven game.

Soccer, on the other hand, even though it has11 players on the field its roster has no more than 17 players. The staff size is no larger than 6. Each soccer player has a clear role on the field and they are always on the field so they are much better able to adapt and react to the needs and demands of the game. The soccer team captain plays a symbolic role and his/her role is to represent the team when the referees decisions are questionable or to purely be the spokesperson of the team.

Each soccer player is equally powerful in that they are all able to score or defend. They are universal and they represent a team in the pure sense of the word.

Soccer is a reflection of pure democracy in action while American football is a reflection of militarism/hierarchy, specialization, and top-down decision making. Soccer reflects power when each player's skills and performance are well balanced across the entire team while American football reflects power when the quarterback is best in class.

Another democratic characteristic of soccer is the fact that it remains a true game in terms of time tracking and management, while for the American football the clock and time management are football 101.

In American football time is subordinated to the game while in soccer time is just a reference point outside of the game. Soccer is more spontaneous and eloquent of a game while American football appears like a stuttering boy called out to read a report at the front of the class with all other children watching.

Long live soccer!

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