Is football really the best sport in the world?

After last night's pathetic encounter between Real Madrid and Barcelona many will feel football is no longer top dogThere is no doubting just how big a sport football has become. Since the days where an inflated animal’s bladder was used as a football (disgusting, I know), the sport has engorged tremendously and is the 21st century’s most popular game across the globe.

Nevertheless, football is still riddled with problems. For one, the turn of the century has seen wages rocket with several billionaires investing their wealth into teams, which I guess you could say takes the skill and importance out of growing and developing young players through the ranks. Surely it is vital for domestic clubs to mature our own English talent, instead of raising them and then simply fishing them out to lower league clubs in order to make way for the bigger stars? Look at Barcelona, the Spanish giants are famous for nurturing their own stars and this is represented in Spain’s success in the European Championships and World Cup.

Speaking of wages, one of the biggest groups on social networking site Facebook is “Should soldiers get paid more than footballers”, with 94.9% of responses answered with “Yes”. So, are all these people requesting that soldiers receive more than £120,000 per week, or that wages of footballers are reduced to meet that of our soldiers, who are risking their lives for the good of the nation? I realise that no footballer would ever turn down such a sum of money, but seriously, £120,000 for kicking a ball around for 90 minutes each week?

And that’s all it is. 22 men attempting to kick a ball into a net whilst defending their own. It may be naïve of me to say that, but I play the sport myself, and I admire the way tactics are involved, the importance of a formation, the passion of the fans and all the rest of the nuances of the game, but at the end of the day if you score more goals than your opponents, you win.

Another thing that has played on my mind is the skill involved. Football is a team game, and if you are to work in a team you need chemistry. But on the other hand, the drawback to playing with the support of others is if you make a mistake, there are 10 other people to back you up. In individual sports such as tennis and golf, if you make the mistake, there is only one person to blame. I mean, I guess you could counter that by saying a mistake in football, such as Rob Green’s calamitous error in last year’s World Cup, has less time to be corrected. Football matches last 90 minutes, whereas a round of golf lasts around 4 hours and in tennis there is more than enough rallies in a set for you to correct an error.

However, when there’s more time for mistakes to be repaired, there is also more time for mistakes to be worsened. Look at Rory McIlroy’s collapse in the final round of the US Masters – he started sluggishly but even by the turn of the 9th hole still held the lead, only to surrender top spot hole by hole. On the Saturday, he played astounding golf; he was a wizard with the ball at his mercy. On the Sunday however, he was a totally different player, which is the reason why I believe that a sport like golf requires so much more skill, both physically and mentally. The margin for error between a player’s starting pose to the follow-through is so minute that the difference between the ball going left and the ball going straight could be as simply as the elbow being 1° acuter at the top of the swing.

So then, why is football the biggest sport in the world? Well for a start, minimal resources are required. The good old days where jumpers were used as goalposts still lives strong. All that is required is a ball, a patch of grass and a group of friends. It is a very fun sport I must say, and the adrenaline rush you receive when scoring a goal is second to none. I love scoring when just playing with mates, so I can’t imagine the feeling when scoring in front of a thousand fans on a match day when a goal genuinely means something.

Another reason why football is the most played sport in the world is due to the simple reasons that anyone can play it. You see sports such as basketball where the majority of players make Peter Crouch look microscopic, or American football where a strong build is essential, but in the beautiful game you have a physical diversity only bettered by a couple of sports. Ashley Young, Crouch, goofy Ronaldo. Each has a different physical stature but all 3 have managed to play for their nation.

Football, or ‘soccer’ to the Americans, will continue to expand. More and more people take up the sport each year, and it’s no wonder why, it’s a fantastic sport which can create more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. There are glitches – players now see themselves as royalty, wages are far too extortionate, missing goal-line technology ruined our chances of beating the Germans, but that aside, the atmosphere experienced every Saturday when groups meet up at the pub and the banter commences is out of this world.

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