Hello, all!

While I am weary that I will keep this blog current or that anyone will find it amusing, I will try and be somewhat interesting and offer insight into just about any topic.

A bit of information about myself seems to be in order. My name is Bela and a I am a twenty five year old gentleman from Tennessee. I have my BA in political science and am currently working toward finishing my thesis for my MS in applied intelligence.

I have two strong interests in my life: soccer and learning. While I dabble in most other areas of entertainment, music, politics, art, religion, philosophy, and literature, these two things have defined the person that I am right now.

I will use the rest of my introductory post to give a bit of insight into why I love soccer as much as I do.

The Beautiful Game

A caveat before we continue: from here on in, I will use football to refer to soccer. I'm sure any fan of American football can tell the distinction between team names.

I remember the first time I ever watched a match.

It was an overcast day in April and my cousin, whom I greatly admired at the time, was playing in the local parks league. I didn't really understand the sport though, and all I really wanted to do was get out of the heat for some kool-aid.

I also remember a very brief exchange between my aunt and the ref about a hand ball decision that had went against my cousins team. I tried to interject and tell the ref that I, too, had seen the foul. Much like refs today, he took note of it and didn't produce a card or warning. I wasn't moved by the lack of judgment by the official.

Now, eighteen years later, I scream, "handball," at 7am on a Saturday morning while watching what team ESPN2 decides to air on that morning. Things have changed, I assure you.

The first big change occurred when I ended up watching a Champions League match my junior year of college. I was bored and had a few hours to kill between classes, so I zoomed over to ESPN2 and found football on. I was surprised to find that I really found the game interesting. I was more of a hockey fan at the time.

The magical thing that roped me in was the singing. It wasn't the incoherent, gaggle, of sound that I was accustomed to from sitting in the student section for the last three years. These people were actually using words to convey their support or dislike. And it was more than "Lets go (insert team name here) clap clap clap"

And to their credit, the fans were probably wasted and the chants, I would find out later, were often very vulgar and demeaning, but it was something different. It was something that didn't occur for about half a minute, then die off. It was continuous for the half.

The second big change came when I found out the complexity of the leagues. Here, most teams play for two titles: conference title and champions.

My team, Chelsea, can contest four different trophies a season. Three of them are domestic. Even if you support a not so great team, there's still a chance that they may come away with one trophy from the season, even if it isn't the number one spot in the league.

Another point about complexity, is the theory of relegation. At the end of the English season, three first level teams go down to the second tier and three teams from the second tier move up. Seems wacky, I know. But if you were a Newcastle United fan this previous season, the last month or so of the season was nerve racking as you wondered if your team would pull out 17th place on points or goal differential.

I found the third and final change when I realized just how global the sport was.

Being a political science major, I read Tom Friedman's "The World Is Flat." The world was flat football wise, way before your tech support call was being answered in another country.

Civil wars have been halted because a country's national team has made it to the World Cup. It has brought children who would have otherwise died from poverty, into positions that they can use their own wealth to give back to not only the kids from their neighborhood but from the entire continent.

And I know, athletes here do the exact same thing. Football, just seems to do it better in my opinion.

The ball is round and that's about all you can say for the sport, because everything else is up to chance, kinda like life. Here's your life, yeah they're are rules but you can't always be sure that the ref is going to be watching.

Cheers, all!

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Comment by Raj on January 3, 2010 at 2:45pm
Nice post, Bela. It's great to see that you have such a great passion for soccer. I personally don't care for soccer, as my favorite sport is American football. I look forward to reading your future blog posts!
Comment by Herb Munson on January 2, 2010 at 6:56pm
It's great to know and love a good sport. Soccer is the world's largest. I wish your team well!

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