Being the internationalist <wink> that I am, it should come as no surprise
to you that my favorite sport to play and watch is soccer. But, one has to
understand the game to enjoy watching it.  The same is true of baseball.
And, knowledge also enhances the enjoyment of football and basketball as
well, even if they are a little easier to appreciate.

I think soccer is the ideal "first sport" for children:

1.  It strengthens the cardio-vascular system
2.  Children rarely leave a game feeling like they have failed, personally.
3.  It teaches the importance of cooperation and teamwork like no other
sport I know.

As for the chances for injury: low at the recational level; moderate
compared to American football; on par, probably, with basketball and
baseball. Translation: if a kid plays the sport competitively, sooner or
later he will suffer a serious injury.

I also appreciate the the refereeing practices.  As a rule, fouls  and
violations are only called if 1) the foul itself gives one team the
advantage over its opponent ( if  the player with the ball is fouled but
maintains control and continues on unimpeded, the foul would not be called);
2) the foul was clearly dangerous. I dislike the "offsides" rule -- a rule
adopted because the U.S. insisted on it back in the 1930s, after it had won
the World Cup -- although a slower team, like the U.S. was then, can use it
to mount an effective defense.


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