One of my earliest sports memories is watching John Elway and the Denver Broncos beat the Cleveland Browns to make it to the Super Bowl.
I then recall watching that Super Bowl at my cousin’s house and being very disappointed when the Broncos got spanked by that football team from Washington. I grew up loving football. I played football in junior high and high school. I devoted full weekends to watching hours and hours of football on television. Thankfully, those days are over.
Futbol, soccer, has supplanted football in my heart and on my TV. I first started to watch soccer around 2008 when I studied abroad in The Netherlands. The local pub I frequented is where I watched the games. I started following Tottenham a few years later and slowly soccer made more sense and became way more entertaining.
I started to see football as a less interesting and less entertaining alternative. Now it is rare that I sit down to watch a football game. I could talk about the problems with college athletics, or the incompetence in the NFL front-office, or safety issues with football as reasons why I have lost interest in the sport. These issues have certainly contributed to my indifference, but that is not the whole story.
A big part of the switch for me has been how much better the soccer fan experience is. Thus, here are three reasons why being a soccer fan is better than a being a football fan…
This has been a most pleasant and unexpected development in my soccer fandom. There is just so much soccer to watch. I follow the English Premier League (EPL) and Major League Soccer (MLS). The EPL season runs from August to May. Concurrently, there is Champions League and Europa League games during the week at various points in the season, as well as cup competitions.
The MLS season starts in March and ends in late October, so when EPL season ends, MLS is in full-gear over the summer months. And then there is international soccer. The World Cup happens every four years for both men and women, but they are staggered (men played last year, our women won it all this year).
In between cups, there are continental competitions, World Cup qualifying matches, and friendlies. So. Much. Soccer.
As for football, you got August through January. That’s it.
I realise that these days fans who record sporting events can fast forward through those pesky commercials. But most die-hards watch games live or at a sports bar, so sitting through commercials is a part of the experience. And if you watch a lot of football, you will spend most of that time watching commercials instead of actual game action.
Not so with soccer. A soccer game is two total hours of your time if there is a 15 minute pre or post game segment. Ninety minutes of that time is beautiful soccer action. There is no need to fast-forward through commercials because there aren’t any. There is a 15 minute half-time with at least half of it spent in the studio with the analysts breaking down the first 45. So you are left with about eight minutes of commercials during a soccer broadcast (not including those in any post/pre-game if there is such a segment).
The idea that many football fans have of soccer being so “boring” is silly when you consider that most of a football game is spent watching players and coaches stand around.
If you like football, there are only two outlets for your fandom: the college and professional games. But in soccer, there are so many leagues that it is almost overwhelming and intimidating to get started as a fan. But this is a good thing, because choice is good. Especially when the options are of such quality.
The most watched league in the United States is the EPL. It is fast, physical and competitive. But there are other leagues with tremendous talent and arguably, better teams (though probably not as competitive as leagues). Germany has the Bundesliga, Spain La Liga, France Ligue 1, and so on and so forth.
And soccer coverage in America has gotten so good that you can now watch these leagues on one of numerous cable channels. For example, NBC Sports’s coverage of the EPL is fantastic and you can watch every single game online at no extra cost with your cable subscription login.
For football fans, you’re stuck with regional coverage and the only way you can watch out-of-market games is by forking over a lot of extra cash for the privilege.
I will admit that I sometimes get sucked into a big football game, or will check the scores to see how the Broncos and the Longhorns are doing. But I have no regrets about not spending anywhere from 3–9 hours on Saturdays and Sundays watching football.
EPL games start early and I am done by noon, which I am grateful for. This means I have the rest of the day to spend with the family or doing other things. I am grateful for that, too.
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