By Katie Dunn, Staff Commentary
It can be hard, living in America, to imagine a sport bigger than football, but travel to any other country and they'll tell you what the most popular sport is: futbol (or as we call it, soccer).
In America, football is so highly revered because it exemplifies the basic fundamentals of our country. Warfare is the basis for football; strategy is the basis for futbol.
There are many reasons people say that American football is better than futbol, but most of them do not stand up to actual facts. Let's start with futbol being less physical. Football has tackling and blocking in every play, creating more chances for serious injuries (concussions anyone?), but futbol has legal hitting, elbowing, tripping and shoving that rarely result in serious injuries. Futbol is played with no pads or helmets, just a jersey, shorts and some shin guards.
When you have a game where an average of 2.5 goals are scored per match, and any goal could be the game winner or even the only score all game, the dramatics can't be beat. It's true that a futbol game can end in a tie but hey, even football can, even though not as often. I think this is the main reason Americans resist the game so much; We always need a winner. The thing is, when the game is important, there is a winner. Nothing can match the tension of penalty kicks needed to decide a big game.
The best thing about futbol, and the thing Americans should love most, is the ability to heckle the other team. During football games, there are no large fans groups cheering the same thing, at the same time, trying to get in the other team's head. A sport where it is seen as acceptable to harass the other team as much as cheer for your own should be loved by everyone. As Americans, we love to show how much better we are and how much pride we have, so futbol should be the obvious choice when picking what sport to cheer for.
All the aspects of futbol are present at every competitive level, from high school to professional. It is one of the only sports where people get just as excited about the women's teams as well as the men's. The level of play, physicality and support are constant for the two genders. It might be the only sport where people actually like watching the women more than men. There is no better example of this than here at UP.
Portland is a city of futbol. You're a Timber's fan? Great, the stadium is about a 30-minute bus ride away from campus. Or maybe you like the Seattle Sounders. Drive 15 minutes and you're in Washington. If you need a strong rivalry to become part of, join this one. The hatred between Sounders and Timbers fans is as big as any other rivalry you will find in any other sport.
There is no contest of football vs futbol at UP since we have no football team, but even if we did I could not picture there being more support for football than our women's soccer team.
I challenge anyone to find a football team that gets a drum squad in kilts to attend every game, an entire dorm of guys who paint their chests, and a student section that can intimidate visiting teams as much as ours can. UP chants to not only our team in support, but in ridicule to the other team.
There is no bigger sense of community than a school that supports their team, and here at UP, it's soccer. If I have still yet to convince you that futbol is better than football, come to the next women's soccer game at home. Sit as close to the Villa Drum Squad as you can, and try not to fall in love with the game. Being that close and having everyone around you so excited will make you a futbol fan in no time.