Football: The game of perpetual reciprocation

Football (“soccer” to a very small minority of the planet) is the world’s favorite sport, but everyone knows that this statement is flawed.

Football is not just a sport, but rather a way of life. This is a game that loves you back.

This is a game that can sometimes demonstrate tough love, as AS Roma fans experienced this past Saturday when thousands of them were turned away after ticket sales shut down due to what Rome police deemed a “dangerous atmosphere,” a couple hours before kickoff.

The love can be a little boring at times with the occasional 0-0 draw.

The love can even break your heart as Manchester United fans can attest to following the 2013 miracle comeback from their counterparts wearing light blue…

But it is love, through and through.

In what sport do the players, win, draw or lose, salute the fans for coming out? I’m not talking about an NBA superstar coming out of a game with his head down and giving an arbitrary finger point of appreciation to someone in the nose-bleeds. Im talking about a player walking over to the away section after a tough road loss and thanking those who travelled with the club. This is a simple gesture from the player saying, “We recognize you” and as a fan, that is all you’ve ever wanted. Confirmation that your support is noticed and valued.

Can we honestly convince ourselves that American sports leagues love us back and that it isn’t just about the money?

As much as we claim we love the NFL, does it really love us back? The answer is no. Not when a game is blacked out on local television stations if a team doesn’t sell out. Not when a 60 minute game takes upwards of four hours to complete due to the nauseating amount of commercials and other mindless advertising stunts.

For so many nations around the world, the game is not just a game. The patch isn’t just a fashion statement. Those colors on a jersey are much more than visual stimulant. When it comes to the MLS, I do not think that the fans can ever come close to the amount of passion and pride that other football fans around the world display. However, I do believe that the game is growing and people are starting to let the game love them back.

This growth can be seen in the fact that MLS has the third highest average attendance rating in the U.S. beating out the likes of the NBA and NHL in the 2013-2014 seasons.

Football is slowly creeping up on the MLB (second highest average attendance). The USA/Belgium round of sixteen match drew a significantly greater television audience, over three million to be exact, than the championship of what is supposedly our country’s “National Past-time,” the World Series.

It is becoming more and more probable that football could become our nation’s future in the world of sports.

The average American sports fan will be turned off to football for the lack of constant stimulus and scoring that the NBA produces. Or for the shortage of bone-crushing collisions that the NHL and NFL give them.

But I implore these people to look past the surface of the football which at times, yes, can be droning.

I ask these naysayers of football to let the beautiful game work it’s magic. Like most great things in life, there is a lot of hard-work that results in only a few moments of glory. These moments make the countless minutes of dull possession worth the last-minute thrillers.  If you are still struggling with this concept, here is a reminder of what this game can give us:

If that doesn’t give you goose bumps then I suggest a trip to the nearest ER to see if you have a pulse.

This game is the most popular in the world for a reason. The reason is this, reciprocation. Football has a unique way of repaying those who see the true beauty in the game.

So open your eyes, open your heart and try to see all of the best that football has to offer and you will be rewarded with a perpetual reciprocity like no other game in the world.