Saturday, August 23, 2008

Who Said Soccer Is Not A Physical Sport? #2

Some people around the globe say that soccer is a namby-pamby sport that is not physical like other sports. They see guys wearing small shorts, diving to the ground, faking fouls and injuries, and do not see a lot of goals or constant action like other sports. However, that really is far from the truth.

Throughout my soccer career I suffered some injuries, none really serious. But in soccer, it is almost impossible to have Brett Favre or Cal Ripken like athletes who rarely get injured and endure long injury free seasons.

Soccer players only wear small shin guards and no other pads, and although goals might be limited, collisions and battles for the ball are frequent. Most professional and international players wear metal studs in their cleats. One spike from those will make you limp around for a while.

Yesterday in a semi-final Concacaf qualifying game, United States midfielder Eddie Lewis reminded us how physical soccer really is when he collided with Guatemala's Gustavo Cabrera. Lewis had his head gashed open, when Cabrera came in and hit him with an elbow on a header by Lewis. Cabrera was quickly sent off with a red card, which made the teams even with ten men only (Steve Cherundelo was sent off for the US with two yellow cards). The US was able to capitalize only minutes later, when Carlos Bocanegra nodded one in off his head from a Demarcus Beasley corner kick. This served to be the lone goal of the game, giving the US the 1-0 victory.

I wrote an earlier post on LIVE From Law School, which described another incident where two soccer players collided and one got seriously injured. Romanian Mirel Radoi was taken off on a stretcher after he clashed heads with his teammate Razvan Rat in the 24th minute of a game in the Euro 2008 tournament that happened earlier this summer. Radoi suffered a broken nose and underwent surgery to reconstruct his face and eye.

These serious incidents do not occur too frequently, but they happen more than you would in soccer. Almost every great player has had some sort of serious injury keeping them away from the game for some period, during their careers. Paolo Maldini, Pele, Landon Donovan, even David Beckham was forced to the sidelines because of an injury. I'm not saying that soccer players are tougher than NFL players. I'm only advising most of you out there who believe that soccer is not a rough contact sport, that you are wrong.

Soccer is a contact sport that requires a lot of coordination, endurance and physical abilities. Just because you see Diego Maradonna and others flopping like recent NBA players have been doing, does not mean that soccer is not a real physical sport.

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