Ron Norris kitted out is his referee gear circa 1970.
July 17, 2013Valley Center resident Ron Norris, a longtime soccer referee and fan of the game, recently sent in this counterpoint to Dan Kidder's article, "The best things about American sports," from last week's issue.
Mr. Dan Kidder starts his article with these words, "Maybe I'm biased." This is obvious to anyone who has read his writings. His headline is: The best things about American sports. Before I write more, I confess that I 'am' biased about sports, not 'maybe', as Mr. Kidder states.
The sport, which is scorned in the article, is the one which has more fans than any other on the planet: 'Football', the sport played with the feet, called 'Soccer' in the USA. The word 'soccer' is derived from 'Association Football'. In other countries around the world, various sports which dominate the culture are called football, i.e. Gaelic Football, Aussie Rules Football etc. In these countries Soccer is the preferred term for their secondary sport. In the USA American Football comes first.
Sports everywhere have their heroes and also their villains. Dan points out a few heroes in American sports but leaves out a lot of villains, O.J. Simpson and Michael Vick, to name a couple. That said, Dan probably knows of soccer players from Britain like Joey Barton and Vinnie Jones who were among the most violent of enforcers. With regards to Dan's comments on security, I have nothing to add, he's correct.
Pointing out that soccer games are boring is to not understand the 'beautiful game'. So what if the match ends up '0' - '0'? The skills demonstrated during such a game can be spectacular. It's the way the game is played that counts. One could watch a basketball game for just the last ten minutes to know the winner, if that was the point. No! The skills demonstrated during the whole game is the point. In the inner city poor areas, all that is needed is a ball and a basket, these things can lift a poor kid out of poverty. The same thing goes for the rest of the world, except those poor kids need just one item - a ball.
Soccer players have a reputation for hitting the ground rather easily, but serious injuries can occur when players without pads collide.
Playing any sport as a young person can make a person a fan of that sport for life. On the same note, any person who does not play a sport when growing up most likely will never be passionate about that sport. I would guess that Mr. Kidder could be listed among the latter regarding soccer.
A fact overlooked about soccer, is that players can be a 6ft-7in Peter Crouch, or 5ft-7in like Lionel Messi, the best soccer player in the world, whereas in some sports played in the USA, players are all between 6ft and 7ft tall or weigh upwards of 250 lbs. Some 12 year olds get pushed out of Pop Warner Football because they are not heavy enough; this is from personal family experience. Fortunately they have another sport to go to, one in which children of any size and shape can participate, one which demands only effort and the will to improve - soccer.
I believe the main reason that soccer is not popular at the professional level in the USA, is because there are no 'time outs' to allow for commercials on television. Dan puts down baseball in favor of football as the best US sport. I concur. My reason is that between looking, spitting, scratching, tugging at the cap, and managers running onto the field, there are only around ten minutes of real action in a three-hour baseball game. Of course in many fans' minds, the parking lot parties, the hot-dogs and beer can make up for the lack of action. In other words it can be an event, rather than just a game.
Regarding, "The mean man on the other team brushing my leg and I fell down," comment. Soccer is played with thin shirts and shorts, plus small shin-pads, not with gigantic shoulder pads and crash helmets. There is cheating and play acting in every sport, which is getting worse by the year as those with little talent try to cheat their way to win. The athletes who perform in any top level sport can be among the fittest humans on earth, which does not mean they are necessarily among the best people on earth. In the USA there is enough room for every sport to be played and enough fans to enjoy any sport they wish to support. Try rugby anytime if you want to see a real tough game. There is a youth rugby league in Valley Center.
Ron Norris coached and refereed (not professionally, just for the love of the game) soccer mainly in the U.S., at many levels over the space of around 40 years, ending up in Valley Center with a Hurricane boys' team. "Doing all that running kept me fairly fit into my old age," he tells The Roadrunner.