What’s the deal with soccer? A look at the lesser known aspects of sports

Oct. 6, 2014

Ashley Thompson
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An estimated 715 million people watched the FIFA World Cup this year, making it the world’s most widely viewed sporting event. Wildly popular around the world, it begs the question: what’s the deal with soccer?

Soccer dates back to 2,500 B.C., with records of the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Chinese playing similar games.

The FIFA World Cup is the Super Bowl of soccer. Except is watched by over six times the people, 32 national teams from all around the world compete and it only occurs every four years.

Here are some basics about the game:

Soccer is usually played with a ball, two goals and two 11-person teams. The object of the game is to get past the opposing team and kick the ball into the net.

Players wear shin guards and cleats, which serve to protect and give traction on the field.

Goalkeepers wear distinctive gloves to help handle the ball and are the only player on the field that can use their hands in play. Soccer players have specific positions they play on the field:

“Forwards” are the front attacking line of the team. They take most of the shots on goal, and are generally fast runners and offensive threats.

“Midfielders” have to have a lot of endurance, as they cover a lot of ground during the game. Their job is to win the ball from the other team and send it to the forwards.

The “defenders” of a team stay the closest to their own goal. Their job is pretty obvious – to keep the goal safe at any cost. They may move up to support the midfielders at some points during the game.

The game itself is split into two 45-minute halves.

Here are definitions for some of the technical soccer terms:

HANDBALL: Anytime the ball touches any part of a player’s arm, a handball is called and depending on the nature of the handball could result in a card for the offender.

OFFSIDE: An offensive player cannot be ahead of the last defender when the ball is played.

FOUL: Anything deemed by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force.

FREE KICK: When play is stopped for a foul, the other team is awarded a free kick from the infraction’s location.

PENALTY KICK: This is awarded to a team when a foul is committed within that team’s goal box. One player from the other team takes a free shot on the goal, which is protected only by the goalkeeper.

YELLOW/RED CARD: The referee may give a player a red or yellow card for unsporting behavior, failure to comply with game rules or offensive actions toward another player.

Yellow cards are given for more minor misdemeanors, while red cards are given after two yellow cards, or for one serious infraction. After one red card or two yellow cards, the player is expelled from the game.

The new Alpine Field, on top of the parking garage, is a great place to try out soccer. Grab a soccer ball and some friends, and join the rest of the world in playing this sport.