Sunday, April 30, 2006

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

I step out of the back door of my house, and the warmth of a beautiful spring day envelops my body. The smell of the flowers and the freshly cut grass make me realize how lucky I am to be alive. Better yet, I recognize that the little things in life are the true reasons that we can, and should, enjoy ourselves. Little things like playing a game of croquet, breathing in the sweet air and forgetting the stresses of every day life. I take off my sandels, and slowly press my bare feet onto the grass. The individual blades slide between my toes, the soil beneath sticks to my the balls and heels of my feet. I turn to my right, surveying the bushes for any signs of life. A robin hops along the ground, moving slowly, its head on a constant swivel. Out of its tiny body, chirps and whistles become audible in the air. They combine with a different sound; a sort of squeal, a mixture between a chirp and a yell. These sounds are coming out of two squirrels, both jockeying for position on a tree to my left. They scurry and stumble along the branches. As if they are an advanced, choregraphed pair, they begin to jump from one limb to the other. Looking back down at my feet, I see a small cricket. He hops up and down, clearing the grass and then submerging back into it. I look out onto the horizon; the sun is at its peak, and the result is a mixture of colors bouncing from the blue sky to the white-grey clouds. The wind is beginning to pick up. The warm air beams on my face, broken up by the occasional breeze slicing through like a knife slicing through butter. Another smell drifts past my nose, causing me to freeze mid-step. One of the neighbors is grilling hamburgers or hot dogs; the burning charcoal reminds me of summer. On this day, I understand the gifts of life that we all take for granted on a daily basis. My mind wanders, my senses jump at every little thing that they pick up. I understand why I can always smile. Even when things are rough, even when the days drag on and on, even when I face adversity, I can smile. Because life is about more than just school, work, money, or status. Its about the little things. Its about a regular sunday afternoon.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Style Guide Lesson 10

The 10th chapter in our Style guide is entitled "The Ethics of Style." Its purpose, as stated in the first few pages, is to drive home the idea that we must write as readers. What this means, in simple terms, is that in order to be a truely skilled writer, one must see the writing as his/her audience would see it. By stressing this idea, writers will write more clearly, efficently, and effectively, without losing style. The chapter questions our abilities to write for an intended audience, and asks whether we as writers truely work at our craft in order to write with style everytime we create something. It goes over several devices used by modern companies or businesses, including the idea of intended misdirection. For example, an automobile company may knowingly use language that is intended to mislead the audience, in order to make themselves look better. The point the chapter makes is that writing can be intereprated in any number of ways, and writing will always have crtics and cynics. However, what is important is looking past these criticisms to your intended audience. If what you write is exactly how you want your intended audience to see it, then be happy with your work. Use style and elegance in order to send your messege, but don't forgot about clarity and conciseness. All of these elements must be put together in a way that your reader will understand your true thoughts and feelings. And that, in itself, is the ability to use style in your writing.

Friday, April 28, 2006

A paper that I am continuing to revise for my journalism class...
Question #1: Why is the government concerned about advertising and children? Also, describe the nature and number of ads aimed at children outlined in the government’s 1979 study of the issue. What was the study’s three conclusions? 30 Points.
The government is concerned about advertising because much of it is directed towards young children. Advertiser’s know that if they can target children, these children’s parents will be forced to be consumers of their respective products. Not only do children gather money from their parents through allowances, part-time jobs, and as presents for holidays, but they also have a supreme amount of power over their parents. Parents want to make their children happy, so they are willing to spend the money for the exact products that their kid’s desire. A study done by John Rossiter in 1979 concluded that "television advertising has the greatest effects on the youngest children in families with parents of low education and most likely low income." Therefore, even families without excess amounts of money are the subject of advertising woes, as they are still forced to buy these same products that higher income families see through ads and are financially able to afford. Three conclusions’ came about from the government’s 1979 study of children and advertising. The first is that advertising adds to the cost of products. This is to say that ultimately, consumers end up paying the cost for advertising, simply because it is another cost in manufacturing a product. The second conclusion is that people buy products that they do not need because of advertising. Goods such as cigarettes, designer clothing, and hygiene products all benefit immensely due to advertising, despite their marginal worth in our lives. The final conclusion is that advertising reduces competition. Because of this, monopolies become the name of the game, as stronger products with more money for ads gather a stranglehold on the publics perception of certain goods and products.
Question #2: Describe the main conclusions in a 1982 study of TV violence and children. Describe what has been the media’s response to the issue of TV violence and why have they taken such a course of action. The answer should include recent devolpments of the media and government in relation to violence on TV. 40 Points.
In 1982, the National Institute of Mental Health released a study on television violdence and its subsequent effects on children. What this study found was that violence on television does indeed affect the aggressive behavior of children. Not only this, but it was also found that it had the same affect on older people. This led to a whole new way of looking at the problems that excessive violence on television could have on not only children, but the American public as a whole. Due to these things, the media and the government have been working together in order to limit the amount of violent shows or advertisments that children can see. For example, the FCC has set about a plan to limit any violent depictions during certain hours, within which children are more inclined/able to watch television. Almost all television channels have also adopted a new form of tv rating guidelines. This system uses easy to understand ratings in order to "grade" shows on how suitable they are for children. For example, a show with a rating of TV Y is suitable for all children. Meanwhile, a rating of TV 14 is not suitable for any child under the age of 14, without a guardian present.
3. The issue of children and the Internet has been a major consideration in federal efforts to regulate online content. Discuss at least THREE problems involving children on the internet, including the figures to back up the issue. Discuss at least THREE solutions that can be used to help lessen the negative impact of children on the Internet.
There are several major risks that go along with children and their ability to access countless amounts of information on the Internet. One is the possible exposure to inappropriate material. Considering that by the year 2000 there were 55,475,000 US households with access to personal computers and the internet, it seems almost stupid to think that kids have no access to the internet in the leisure of their own home. Just as parents need to be concerned about their kids watching crude and violent programs on their television sets, the same can be said for computers and the internet. Countless amounts of pornographic material can be easily found on the web, and are often hidden under false web site names, so as to confuse the user. Children can easily stumble upon pornographic pictures and videos, even if they are not searching for it. More and more children are also being taught to use such things as E-mail and chat rooms, as more than 99% of public schools teach some sort of computer course within their boundaries. Through E-mail and chat rooms, sexual predators can find easy access to younger and less educated internet users. They may then find out information about their victim, set up a meeting, and even commit heinous crimes due simply to the child’s inability to distinguish between a friendly stranger and a possible sex offender. Another issue is the issue of privacy. The internet is a shady network of elaborate web sites and tracking devices. Items such as advertising bugs and cookies can be downloaded to a computer in order to track the user’s movements around the web, or even to determine where the computer is located. This can lead to legal, financial, or worse yet, physical harm, due to enlightened internet users’ abilities to hack into computers and take advantage of less experienced children. Some solutions for worried parents as far as fixing these problems, or limiting them, start with the simple; keep track of what your child is doing online. By keeping track of your child’s habits, you can monitor their web use, and make sure that they are not putting themselves or you in danger. Another solution would be to use services, such as network firewalls, in order to limit the content children can see. Although this may seem like a harsh solution, it will help to protect your child from viewing web sites that may be detrimental to their mental health now or in the future. A final solution would be to simply allow the child to use the internet under their parents supervision. Although they may feel uncomfortable in doing so, it will help them learn what is right and what is wrong on the internet, and they can eventually be let loose once they have grasped exactly how the internet works and the dangers that go along with it.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Kim,
Your essay starts off with a strong quote that sets the tone for the overall direction of your paper. Your introduction paragraph quickly informs us of your love for music, and music’s overall control over your life. However, the last sentence shifts into you stating that at first, you did not know good music. Although this is important, I feel like having this information in your introduction paragraph takes away from your credibility, rather than adds to it. I thought, overall, that this is a very strong essay. You relay your personal experiences well, and show us that you truly are a product of the digital music revolution. You also detail the history of music file sharing, bringing us to the present year easily and effectively. However, a few things confuse me. First, for about six pages in the middle of your essay, you talk almost exclusively about the recording industry’s efforts to stop file sharing and their subsequent inability to do so in an effective manner. You then offer up several possible options as to what could be done to help solve this problem. However, you do not mention yourself at all in these six pages. The information you present is important, and I like how you are giving us possible solutions to the problem. But, you need to relate all of these events to yourself, not before and after this information, but also within it. When you talk about your possible solutions, let us know which ones you think would be viable and applicable. When you introduce Itunes, mention the fact that you were one of those people who embraced the service. Make your experience flow with the historical evidence you are presenting. Sympathize with the people who are getting sued, as you explain later that when the court cases came too close to home, you bailed on the services. Make your argument felt. After reading your essay, I knew for a fact that you were somebody who supported the file sharing boom. It helped you, as you put it, grow as a person; your tastes in music were explored, changed, and ultimately set as a very eclectic genre. However, I don’t see your argument’s strength until the very end of your paper, notably in your conclusion. Your conclusion is very strong, and begs the question of why shouldn’t music be free to us. Explain why you think music should be free to us, rather than just presenting the facts, and then stating that you personally enjoyed getting free music. Its cool that you liked free music, but you could stand to do a better job making the audience agree with your opinion. Add more personal details; how it has shifted your tastes in music, your ways of thinking, and ultimately, your life. Other than that, I see no real problems with your essay. Your transitions are strong, your topic is always known, and your paragraph structure is virtually flawless. Your credibility is immediately made clear, and the reader knows that you obviously understand the information that you are presenting. Now you just need to go back and add argumentative elements throughout the story, rather than just at the end. I need to read the story and constantly become more and more aware of your stance. Instead, I understand the history of your community, and then finally, by page 11 (second to last page of your story), I understand where your coming from. Other than that, as I said before, this is a very strong draft. Keep up the good work.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Moment
From the first time I stepped onto a soccer field and began dribbling the ball, cradling it with every touch and treating it with the same care that a mother treats her newborn, I knew I had found my passion. There are few joys in life that can rival 11 people working together as a single unit, stringing picture-perfect passes together, moving down the field like an elaborately choreographed ballet. The joy of the game comes from its beauty, from its simplicity. Nicknamed “The World’s Game,” soccer has grown to unthinkable levels of popularity all around the globe. However, in the United States, it is a forgotten pastime. Although it has risen in its recognition immensely over the past 10 years, it is still not considered one of the top three sports for Americans. Americans don’t recognize, or rather, don’t understand, that its simplicity is what makes it so popular in other countries. America has rejected soccer, while the rest of the world has embraced it.
I grew up knowing and embracing just one sport: soccer. I have been playing it for as long as I can remember. My brother began playing when he was about 7, and by the time I reached that age, I decided to follow in his footsteps. I started out playing recreation league, which is basically where all youth soccer players start their career. From here, I moved onto the club level, also known as “Travel soccer,” so-called because my team would play teams from all over the country, teams from up and down the east coast, and teams from all over Virginia. We also did our fair share of traveling to places like Arizona, New York and Florida for games and tournaments. About this time, as I was traversing my way through the journey we all know as Middle School, my dad got involved with soccer. He took a job as General Manager of the Richmond Kickers, a professional soccer team based in Richmond, VA. He has since moved on to become President of the Club, and is respected nationwide as one of the pioneers of the new soccer movement based on vertical integration; that is, soccer clubs being taught from the ground up, going from youth clubs to semi-pro teams and on up to professional teams, both for men and women. I went on to play for my high school squad, continued with my club team, and eventually was scouted to play for the Randolph-Macon team.
My meteoric rise to a love for the sport is similar to the meteoric rise of the sport itself around the globe. Soccer began to spread around the globe in the mid to late 1800s, a time when American citizens were beginning to exercise their newfound independence from their British counterparts. Free from the prejudices of the new world, American’s took their culture as a chance to stand alone, to do their own thing. They wanted to move away from many of the cultural aspects that had been forced on them in their former homeland, sports included. For this reason, they began to invent their own sports. Baseball, American Football (what we see in the NFL), and basketball all became the weapon of choice for sports enthusiasts. "Soccer remained a backwater in the United States, the game of the recent immigrants, and as such one that was frowned on by parents who wanted their sons to become good Americans” (Murray 15). However, the strongest instances of rejection came from immigrants from countries outside of England, where soccer, at this point, was virtually unknown. Support for the sport tended to be strongest in the areas where the inhabitants were of almost exclusively British descent. "It was strongest on the Atlantic seaboard, particularly in New England” (Smits 3). So although it was rejected by many, the more British of the colonies still enjoyed the game and hoped to bring its success in the homeland with them. This British influence was seen in other parts of the world as well. For example, in Calcutta, soccer was gaining popularity through its wealth of spectators, who would gather to watch the British soldiers play, and go on to form their own teams. Similar things were happening in Asia and Africa at the time, a result of British imperialistic ways. However, this development ended as quickly as colonialism ended, and the rapport of support that had been exhibited quickly filed out, along with the British, in all parts of the world (Murray 20).
I grew up, however, in the United States. A place where, generally speaking, soccer is a forgotten and often times overlooked sport, save for its popularity in youth programs. Inherently, sports fans in America are always looking for more; more goals, bigger venues, and better players. But soccer in America never had these proclivities to begin with, as their support came from wealthy businessmen who had made their money through other investments; that is, other sports. The first soccer league in the US, the American Football Association (founded in 1884), was a strong step in the right direction, but ultimately fizzled out. “The league was organized by people with no real interest in the game, and it was played by ‘foreigners’” (15). It had strong financial backing, but never was able to garner a healthy fan base. In turn, investors saw it as a money-losing venture, and turned their back on the sport. Meanwhile, investors were putting excessive amounts of money into sports such as baseball and football. The equipment needed to play these games far exceeded the costs of a soccer field and a ball, but the return was also far greater than in soccer.
I always was blessed with the best in soccer equipment as a child. I bought high quality cleats and shingaurds, even when I was only playing soccer recreationally. The teams I played on always had several fields from which to choose from, whether for practice or for match play. Because of my dad’s stature in the Virginia soccer world, I was able to train with a semi-professional team as early as my 16th birthday. I was able to work with the best coaches, play with the best players, and train on the best fields. Basically, I was spoiled. However, this is not something that I have experienced in solitude. Most all of the players that I have competed with have been given the same advantages. Despite soccer’s low level of recognition on a professional level in the United States, the youth programs do not have this problem. In fact, a lot of money is put into the youth program, if for no other reason than because parents want to make their children happy. These children enjoy much of the best equipment that money can buy, because their parents are willing and financially able to pay for it. Because of this, they are also likely to take these advantages for granted. Personally, I never even thought about the money that my parents were putting into my love of soccer. I never thought about the fact that a club team like the one I played for had costs per season of well over $400. Add to that the cost of soccer cleats (upwards of $100), balls ($80 per), shingaurds ($30), and uniform costs (way too much), and you’ve got the recipe for excessive spending. Multiply all of these costs by the amount of seasons I have been playing (14), and you begin to understand how much money goes into a typical soccer player’s life in suburban America. I never thought about how much financial obligation and backing goes into the sport, and, in truth, I took it all for granted.
Almost all children in America take it for granted. It is no secret that the youth of America, or rather, the middle-to-high income embraced youth of America, are spoiled. Moreover, it can be said that an enormously high percentage of youth soccer players come from these middle-to-high income families. It is rare to see inner city kids finding any real success with the sport of soccer. Rather, they turn to sports like basketball and football, sports that they know if they ever hit it big can make them superstars. Rich superstars. Rich, famous, genre transcending superstars. Soccer does not garner nor command this kind of respect and veritable command over our culture, our ways of life. This is not the case in most European countries. American media has an enormous amount of influence on the lives of the United States citizens. It can dictate fashion trends, stylistic attitudes, and in a broader sense, our culture. This media chooses to focus on Hollywood; on the stars of blockbuster movies, on the stars of music, and on the stars of television. To a lesser extent, the media focuses on sports stars, but the only true sports star to transcend his sport and affect the culture of a country in such a strong way was Michael Jordon.
The media is much different in a place like Italy, where soccer is without a doubt the number one sport. “Indeed, soccer is Italy's answer to Hollywood, with a business turn-out of close to $6.6 billion a year, without counting TV rights, merchandising, sponsorship and advertising sales” (Serafini 1). Here, the stars of European soccer teams are the stars of the country; that is, they influence fashion, culture, and most importantly, the media. Soccer kings like David Beckham are able to sell products like Michael Jordon was able to sell them in the United States.
However, media influence is not the only reason that soccer has taken off in other parts of the world. Indeed, one must look at the cultural reasons to fully encompass the rise of soccer around the globe. Even with strong financial support in the United States, soccer failed to garner any real fan backing, and in turn, failed to gather enough money to cover its costs. In most European countries, this is not a problem. Huge amounts of money go into soccer, but huge amounts also come out of soccer. But in areas such as the poverty stricken nations of Africa and South America, it is not the money that causes them to reject or accept soccer. Rather, the sport has garnered an elitist status. It is THE game. It is their passion, it is their pleasure, it is their life. Look at this excerpt, taken from Cameron Duodu, a soccer player and journalist from Ghana.

What Duodu is trying to explain is that the ease of play for which soccer is known is a strong reason for its acceptance in the nations of the world that do not rely on media or status. Certainly, money can help build things like stadiums, complexes, and equipment, but that is not what soccer is about. Soccer is about that moment of connection, the zen-like feeling that only soccer players understand. The moment when they step onto the field and realize that it is no longer simply a person playing a game. It is something much bigger. It is a cultural beacon; a thing so powerful that it can mold people, communities, nations, and in a broader sense, the world.
Look at what is happening in countries like Ghana or Togo, where the sport of soccer is tied closely with nationalism, and in general, with life. Upon hearing of Togo’s advancement into the current World Cup, “President Faure Gnassingbe declared the Monday after the momentous victory a national holiday” (Price 2). One could never imagine a birth into the World Cup being cause for a national holiday in the US, but then again, no sporting event would elicit such a response from our own President. This simply shows the degree to which the sport has achieved in other countries; that is, it is no longer simply a sport, but rather an exercise in the true achievement of mankind and the ability a team has to capture so much more than any individual. They dream of that certain moment when soccer becomes more to them; whether it be through a perfectly placed, curling, bending, swerving shot striking the back of the net or through a personal experience that will forever change the way in which they look at soccer.
I never knew this moment when I was younger. As a child, I just played soccer because I thought it was fun, and I always believed I could use the exercise. Add to that my diminutive stature, and soccer just seemed like a good fit. I was often teased by classmates, who would describe soccer as a “girly sport,” where no physical contact occurs and no harm will ever be seen among players. One broken collarbone, two broken noses, and a fractured tibia later, I am now aware that these claims were without merit. However, this does not change the fact that the perception of soccer in the United States is that it is not a sport for “real men.” Parents don’t mind their young children playing it, but will always encourage their efforts more towards sports like basketball, football, and baseball. These are “American sports.” I bought into these views as a child, and always wished that I had been 6 inches taller, so that I could be a “real man” and play “American sports.”
However, my views changed in the summer of 2003. My mother was trying to determine some sort of family vacation that we could all take. As it turned out, her sister (my aunt) had a son who was planning a trip with a few classmates to Ecuador. Although I consider myself a traveling guru, the country of Ecuador did not quite pique my interest. However, after speaking to my cousin, I learned that along with this trip would be a week spent traveling around the Galapagos Islands. At this point, my only thought was “Where do I sign?” I had always been interested in wildlife, and this vacation seemed like a dream to me.
The Galapagos Islands are one of the most diverse series of islands on the entire globe, where the animals range from penguins to flamingos to enormous turtles. Each island is essentially a world of its own, and for this reason, I felt like this was a chance to explore something that I might never see again. I saw this as a chance to see the evolution of…evolution.
When we arrived on Santa Cruz, the largest island of the Galapagos, and the vibrant center of human activity, I could feel something big on the horizon. From here, we would be traveling by boat to the various islands that were located throughout this incredible archipelago. Each day passed, and each day I learned more and more about the Islands, about the South American cultures of our tour guides and staff, and about life in general. My way of thinking would forever be changed, my views forever altered, my mind forever revolutionized.
The moment came on the second to last day of our journey. We arrived at a tiny, uninhabited island called Rabida. This island was known for its amazing beach, which was comprised of a deep burgundy color. This color was a direct result of the immense volcanic activity that had become a staple of this island. As we neared the beach, moving slowly so as not to disturb the sea lion population that was resting nearby, I saw a large clearing of land with two unmistakable objects: Goals. There, less then 100 feet from the beach, was a soccer field. Here we stood, in a place where no human footsteps were seen except for those of tourists and tour guides, and in a place where to my utter amazement, a soccer field was present. The crew of my tour boat, myself, and two more tour boats that had obviously known when this game was going to occur, all gathered near the field and took off our shoes. One ball was present, a crude and slightly flat Kelme ball that would never pass for game-worthy in the United States. They spoke Spanish; we spoke English; but at this point, communication was unnecessary. We were here to play a game; a game that we all enjoy, and a game that brought us together; not as tourists and staff members, but as people.
I came back from this trip a changed man. I had learned, through personal experience, the effect that the game can have on people, with no regards for culture, race, or social status. First-hand, I had experienced something so immense, so mind-blowing, that I would never think about the game the same. Sitting here and writing this, I feel like the things I experienced should have made me do something more for the sport. I should be acting as an ambassador for the sport, going door to door like a Jehovah’s Witness and proclaiming the greatness of soccer. I should leave in my wake an immense sea of converts, a group of newly found soccer nuts that understand and embrace the game the way that I have. Instead, I simply continue to play the sport. I do little more than enjoy the same game that I have been enjoying since I was seven years old. I do not try to change other people’s ways of thinking, because, in truth, I am too indolent for such a massive task. I am lethargic, I am spoiled, and I am listless. I suppose that is just the American way.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Thought I had this up yesterday....the draft I turned in...
Alec Depcrynski
The Moment
From the first time I stepped onto a soccer field and began dribbling the ball, cradling it with every touch and treating it with the same care that a mother treats her newborn, I knew I had found my passion. There are few joys in life that can rival 11 people working together as a single unit, stringing picture-perfect passes together, moving down the field like an elaborately choreographed ballet. The joy of the game comes from its beauty, from its simplicity. Nicknamed "The World’s Game," soccer has grown to unthinkable levels of popularity all around the globe. However, in the United States, it is a forgotten pastime. Although it has risen in its recognition immensely over the past 10 years, it is still not considered one of the top three sports for Americans. Americans don’t recognize, or rather, don’t understand, that its simplicity is what makes it so popular in other countries. America has rejected soccer, while the rest of the world has embraced it.
I grew up knowing and embracing just one sport: soccer. I have been playing it for as long as I can remember. My brother began playing when he was about 7, and by the time I reached that age, I decided to follow in his footsteps. I started out playing recreation league, which is basically where all youth soccer players start their career. From here, I moved onto the club level, also known as "Travel soccer," so-called because my team would play teams from all over the country, teams from up and down the east coast, and teams from all over Virginia. We also did our fair share of traveling to places like Arizona, New York and Florida for games and tournaments. About this time, as I was traversing my way through the journey we all know as Middle School, my dad got involved with soccer. He took a job as General Manager of the Richmond Kickers, a professional soccer team based in Richmond, VA. He has since moved on to become President of the Club, and is respected nationwide as one of the pioneers of the new soccer movement based on vertical integration; that is, soccer clubs being taught from the ground up, going from youth clubs to semi-pro teams and on up to professional teams, both for men and women. I went on to play for my high school squad, continued with my club team, and eventually was scouted to play for the Randolph-Macon team.
My meteoric rise to a love for the sport is similar to the meteoric rise of the sport itself around the globe. Soccer began to spread around the globe in the mid to late 1800s, a time when American citizens were beginning to exercise their newfound independence from their British counterparts. Free from the prejudices of the new world, American’s took their culture as a chance to stand alone, to do their own thing. They wanted to move away from many of the cultural aspects that had been forced on them in their former homeland, sports included. For this reason, they began to invent their own sports. Baseball, American Football (what we see in the NFL), and basketball all became the weapon of choice for sports enthusiasts. "Soccer remained a backwater in the United States, the game of the recent immigrants, and as such one that was frowned on by parents who wanted their sons to become good Americans" (Murray 15). However, the strongest instances of rejection came from immigrants from countries outside of England, where soccer, at this point, was virtually unknown. Support for the sport tended to be strongest in the areas where the inhabitants were of almost exclusively British descent. "It was strongest on the Atlantic seaboard, particularly in New England" (Smits 3). So although it was rejected by many, the more British of the colonies still enjoyed the game and hoped to bring its success in the homeland with them. This British influence was seen in other parts of the world as well. For example, in Calcutta, soccer was gaining popularity through its wealth of spectators, who would gather to watch the British soldiers play, and go on to form their own teams. Similar things were happening in Asia and Africa at the time, a result of British imperialistic ways. However, this development ended as quickly as colonialism ended, and the rapport of support that had been exhibited quickly filed out, along with the British, in all parts of the world (Murray 20).
I grew up, however, in the United States. A place where, generally speaking, soccer is a forgotten and often times overlooked sport, save for its popularity in youth programs. Inherently, sports fans in America are always looking for more; more goals, bigger venues, and better players. But soccer in America never had these proclivities to begin with, as their support came from wealthy businessmen who had made their money through other investments; that is, other sports. The first soccer league in the US, the American Football Association (founded in 1884), was a strong step in the right direction, but ultimately fizzled out. "The league was organized by people with no real interest in the game, and it was played by ‘foreigners’" (15). It had strong financial backing, but never was able to garner a healthy fan base. In turn, investors saw it as a money-losing venture, and turned their back on the sport. Meanwhile, investors were putting excessive amounts of money into sports such as baseball and football. The equipment needed to play these games far exceeded the costs of a soccer field and a ball, but the return was also far greater than in soccer.
I always was blessed with the best in soccer equipment as a child. I bought high quality cleats and shingaurds, even when I was only playing soccer recreationally. The teams I played on always had several fields from which to choose from, whether for practice or for match play. Because of my dad’s stature in the Virginia soccer world, I was able to train with a semi-professional team as early as my 16th birthday. I was able to work with the best coaches, play with the best players, and train on the best fields. Basically, I was spoiled. However, this is not something that I have experienced in solitude. Most all of the players that I have competed with have been given the same advantages. Despite soccer’s low level of recognition on a professional level in the United States, the youth programs do not have this problem. In fact, a lot of money is put into the youth program, if for no other reason than because parents want to make their children happy. These children enjoy much of the best equipment that money can buy, because their parents are willing and financially able to pay for it. Because of this, they are also likely to take these advantages for granted. Personally, I never even thought about the money that my parents were putting into my love of soccer. I never thought about the fact that a club team like the one I played for had costs per season of well over $400. Add to that the cost of soccer cleats (upwards of $100), balls ($80 per), shingaurds ($30), and uniform costs (way too much), and you’ve got the recipe for excessive spending. Multiply all of these costs by the amount of seasons I have been playing (14), and you begin to understand how much money goes into a typical soccer player’s life in suburban America. I never thought about how much financial obligation and backing goes into the sport, and, in truth, I took it all for granted.
Almost all children in America take it for granted. It is no secret that the youth of America, or rather, the middle-to-high income embraced youth of America, are spoiled. Moreover, it can be said that an enormously high percentage of youth soccer players come from these middle-to-high income families. It is rare to see inner city kids finding any real success with the sport of soccer. Rather, they turn to sports like basketball and football, sports that they know if they ever hit it big can make them superstars. Rich superstars. Rich, famous, genre transcending superstars. Soccer does not garner nor command this kind of respect and veritable command over our culture, our ways of life. This is not the case in most European countries. American media has an enormous amount of influence on the lives of the United States citizens. It can dictate fashion trends, stylistic attitudes, and in a broader sense, our culture. This media chooses to focus on Hollywood; on the stars of blockbuster movies, on the stars of music, and on the stars of television. To a lesser extent, the media focuses on sports stars, but the only true sports star to transcend his sport and affect the culture of a country in such a strong way was Michael Jordon.
The media is much different in a place like Italy, where soccer is without a doubt the number one sport. "Indeed, soccer is Italy's answer to Hollywood, with a business turn-out of close to $6.6 billion a year, without counting TV rights, merchandising, sponsorship and advertising sales" (Serafini 1). Here, the stars of European soccer teams are the stars of the country; that is, they influence fashion, culture, and most importantly, the media. Soccer kings like David Beckham are able to sell products like Michael Jordon was able to sell them in the United States.
However, media influence is not the only reason that soccer has taken off in other parts of the world. Indeed, one must look at the cultural reasons to fully encompass the rise of soccer around the globe. Even with strong financial support in the United States, soccer failed to garner any real fan backing, and in turn, failed to gather enough money to cover its costs. In most European countries, this is not a problem. Huge amounts of money go into soccer, but huge amounts also come out of soccer. But in areas such as the poverty stricken nations of Africa and South America, it is not the money that causes them to reject or accept soccer. Rather, the sport has garnered an elitist status. It is THE game. It is their passion, it is their pleasure, it is their life. Look at this excerpt, taken from Cameron Duodu, a soccer player and journalist from Ghana.
What Duodu is trying to explain is that the ease of play for which soccer is known is a strong reason for its acceptance in the nations of the world that do not rely on media or status. Certainly, money can help build things like stadiums, complexes, and equipment, but that is not what soccer is about. Soccer is about that moment of connection, the zen-like feeling that only soccer players understand. The moment when they step onto the field and realize that it is no longer simply a person playing a game. It is something much bigger. It is a cultural beacon; a thing so powerful that it can mold people, communities, nations, and in a broader sense, the world.
Look at what is happening in countries like Ghana or Togo, where the sport of soccer is tied closely with nationalism, and in general, with life. Upon hearing of Togo’s advancement into the current World Cup, "President Faure Gnassingbe declared the Monday after the momentous victory a national holiday" (Price 2). One could never imagine a birth into the World Cup being cause for a national holiday in the US, but then again, no sporting event would elicit such a response from our own President. This simply shows the degree to which the sport has achieved in other countries; that is, it is no longer simply a sport, but rather an exercise in the true achievement of mankind and the ability a team has to capture so much more than any individual. They dream of that certain moment when soccer becomes more to them; whether it be through a perfectly placed, curling, bending, swerving shot striking the back of the net or through a personal experience that will forever change the way in which they look at soccer.
I never knew this moment when I was younger. As a child, I just played soccer because I thought it was fun, and I always believed I could use the exercise. Add to that my diminutive stature, and soccer just seemed like a good fit. I was often teased by classmates, who would describe soccer as a "girly sport," where no physical contact occurs and no harm will ever be seen among players. One broken collarbone, two broken noses, and a fractured tibia later, I am now aware that these claims were without merit. However, this does not change the fact that the perception of soccer in the United States is that it is not a sport for "real men." Parents don’t mind their young children playing it, but will always encourage their efforts more towards sports like basketball, football, and baseball. These are "American sports." I bought into these views as a child, and always wished that I had been 6 inches taller, so that I could be a "real man" and play "American sports."
However, my views changed in the summer of 2003. My mother was trying to determine some sort of family vacation that we could all take. As it turned out, her sister (my aunt) had a son who was planning a trip with a few classmates to Ecuador. Although I consider myself a traveling guru, the country of Ecuador did not quite pique my interest. However, after speaking to my cousin, I learned that along with this trip would be a week spent traveling around the Galapagos Islands. At this point, my only thought was "Where do I sign?" I had always been interested in wildlife, and this vacation seemed like a dream to me.
The Galapagos Islands are one of the most diverse series of islands on the entire globe, where the animals range from penguins to flamingos to enormous turtles. Each island is essentially a world of its own, and for this reason, I felt like this was a chance to explore something that I might never see again. I saw this as a chance to see the evolution of…evolution.
When we arrived on Santa Cruz, the largest island of the Galapagos, and the vibrant center of human activity, I could feel something big on the horizon. From here, we would be traveling by boat to the various islands that were located throughout this incredible archipelago. Each day passed, and each day I learned more and more about the Islands, about the South American cultures of our tour guides and staff, and about life in general. My way of thinking would forever be changed, my views forever altered, my mind forever revolutionized.
The moment came on the second to last day of our journey. We arrived at a tiny, uninhabited island called Rabida. This island was known for its amazing beach, which was comprised of a deep burgundy color. This color was a direct result of the immense volcanic activity that had become a staple of this island. As we neared the beach, moving slowly so as not to disturb the sea lion population that was resting nearby, I saw a large clearing of land with two unmistakable objects: Goals. There, less then 100 feet from the beach, was a soccer field. Here we stood, in a place where no human footsteps were seen except for those of tourists and tour guides, and in a place where to my utter amazement, a soccer field was present. The crew of my tour boat, myself, and two more tour boats that had obviously known when this game was going to occur, all gathered near the field and took off our shoes. One ball was present, a crude and slightly flat Kelme ball that would never pass for game-worthy in the United States. They spoke Spanish; we spoke English; but at this point, communication was unnecessary. We were here to play a game; a game that we all enjoy, and a game that brought us together; not as tourists and staff members, but as people.
I came back from this trip a changed man. I had learned, through personal experience, the effect that the game can have on people, with no regards for culture, race, or social status. First-hand, I had experienced something so immense, so mind-blowing, that I would never think about the game the same. Sitting here and writing this, I feel like the things I experienced should have made me do something more for the sport. I should be acting as an ambassador for the sport, going door to door like a Jehovah’s Witness and proclaiming the greatness of soccer. I should leave in my wake an immense sea of converts, a group of newly found soccer nuts that understand and embrace the game the way that I have. Instead, I simply continue to play the sport. I do little more than enjoy the same game that I have been enjoying since I was seven years old. I do not try to change other people’s ways of thinking, because, in truth, I am too indolent for such a massive task. I am lethargic, I am spoiled, and I am listless. I suppose that is just the American way.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A Blog about Blogging by Blogs McGee


I talked a little bit before about my roommate and his unconditional feeling of hatred for the term "Blogging." This hatred also include the terms blog, blogger, and blogge (the receiever of a blog). He asks me such everyday questions as, "You bloggin?" or, "Gotta love blogging!" or, my personal favorite, "Hey, it’s bloggity blogmaster!" Now as much as I love hearing him barrage me with a flurry of blog related names, I am going to step up and defend blogging. I too made fun of it at first. The idea of blogging was unfamiliar territory for me, so I approached it with caution. Some of my precursory thoughts rang true, as I believed from the beginning (and still do) that blogging, in general, is a nerdy task. Your hunched over a computer for upwards of 30 minutes, typing constantly and only occasionally looking away from your desk. The ferocious verbal jabs from onlookers never end; just now, my roomate told me "Hey blog man, blog much lately? You love blogging, you’re a regular blogsman. Hurry up and finish or the fiendish blogmaster will you get you." However, the general idea behind the whole blogging thing is one that I can support. By posting new works daily, you are constantly keeping your writing skills sharp and sound. You can look around at other peoples blogs, in order to get ideas for your own. Also, classmates as well as teachers can look at your blog, and give you constructive criticism to help you in problem areas. Even people outside of your class can go and check out your works, so you can let family members or friends give you a second opinion when, and if, it is needed. All in all, I feel like our class using the blog system is a good way to showcase our works. It allows us freedom to write daily, and the chance to express our opinions. Most of all, it allows us all to be made fun of by roommates and the like. Signing off, Blogs McGee.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Part of my essay that I am continuing to re-work......
I grew up knowing just one sport: soccer. I have been playing it for as long as I can remember. My brother began playing when he was about 7, and as most siblings do, I followed in his footsteps. I started out playing recreation league, which is basically where all youth soccer players start their career. From here, I moved onto the club level, also known as "Travel soccer," so-called because my team would play teams from all over the country. For example, we would play in tournaments against teams from up and down the east coast, or in league games with teams from all over Virginia. We also did our fair share of traveling, going to places like Arizona and Florida for games. About this time, as I was traversing my way through the journey we all know as Middle School, my dad got involved with soccer. He took a job as General Manager of the Richmond Kickers, a professional soccer team based in Richmond, VA. He has since moved on to become President of the Club, and is respected nationwide as one of the pioneers of the new soccer movement based on vertical integration; that is, soccer clubs being taught from the ground up, going from youth clubs to semi-pro teams and on to professional teams, both for men and women. I went on to play for my high school squad, continued with my club team, and eventually was scouted to play for the Randolph-Macon team.
My meteoric rise to a love for the sport is similar to the meteoric rise of the sport itself around the globe. Soccer began to spread around the globe in the mid to late 1800s, a time when American citizens were beginning to exercise their newfound independence from their British counterparts. Free from the prejudices of the new world, American’s took their culture as a chance to stand alone, to do their own thing. They wanted to move away from many of the cultural aspects that had been forced on them in their former homeland, sports included. For this reason, they began to invent their own sports. Baseball, American Football (what we see in the NFL), and basketball all became the weapon of choice for sports enthusiasts. "Soccer remained a backwater in the United States, the game of the recent immigrants, and as such one that was frowned on by parents who wanted their sons to become good Americans" (Murray 15). However, the strongest instances of rejection came from immigrants from countries outside of England, where soccer, at this point, was virtually unknown. Support for the sport tended to be strongest in the areas where the inhabitants were of almost exclusively British descent. "It was strongest on the Atlantic seaboard, particularly in New England" (Smits 3). So although it was rejected by many, the more British of the colonies still enjoyed the game and hoped to bring its success in the homeland with them. This British influence was seen in other parts of the world as well. For example, in Calcutta, soccer was gaining popularity through its wealth of spectators, who would gather to watch the British soldiers play, and go on to form their own teams. Similar things were happening in Asia and Africa at the time, a result of British imperialistic ways. However, this development ended as quickly as colonialism ended, and the rapport of support that had been exhibited quickly filed out, along with the British, in all parts of the world (Murray 20).
I grew up, however, in the United States. A place where, generally speaking, soccer is a forgotten and often times overlooked sport, save for its popularity in youth programs. Inherently, sports fans in America are always looking for more; more goals, bigger venues, better players. But soccer in America never had these proclivities to begin with, as their support came from wealthy businessmen who had made their money through other investments; that is, other sports. The first soccer league in the US, the American Football Association (founded in 1884), was a strong step in the right direction, but ultimately fizzled out. "The league was organized by people with no real interest in the game, and it was played by ‘foreigners’" (15). It had strong financial backing, but never was able to garner a healthy fan base. In turn, investors saw it as a money-losing venture, and turned their back on the sport. Meanwhile, investors were putting excessive amounts of money into sports such as baseball and football. The equipment needed to play these games far exceeded the costs of a soccer field and a ball, but the return was also far greater than in soccer.

Friday, April 21, 2006

I woke up this morning to the wonderful sounds of my alarm tearing past my ear drums and through my head. I took one look outside, saw a cloudy mess of rain and wetness, and set my head back down. I was already sure that this was the begining of a bad day. Isn't it funny how the weather can so easily affect our mood? A somber weather pattern leads to somber people. Nice, warm weather leads to cheery people who just want to enjoy the day. I never truely realized how much weather affected my mood until I got to college. I have experienced one (or 10) too many absences simply based on weather alone. Who wants to sit inside a dark room, listening to a teacher drag on and on about chlorophyll, and stare outside the window at an even drearier sight. Its days like these where you just want to sit in your room, possibly sleep, possibly watch tv, possibly do nothing. But teachers should understand that it is not our fault. It's the weather's fault. Blame mother earth and nature for my stockpile of absences. I will see you on monday when it is warmer and dryer. Or maybe I'll skip again to play some football or basketball.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Style Guide Chapter 9

Chapter 9 of the style handbook focuses on the concept of elegance as it pertains to the overall brevity of writing. It first defines a moment of elegance as a passage or phrase that elicits a certain response in the reader, fixing a thought in the reader's mind. The reader will then think back on this moment or passage with an extreme amount of affection, and will thereby have an extreme amount of affection towards the author. The chapter discusses two specific types of coordination, both balanced and unbalanced. This refers to sentance structures that are either grammatical coordinate or incoordinate. The chapter discusses three major charateristics that are seen in elegant passages. The first is the ability to use simple characters as the subjects and actions of verbs. This simplicity creates elegance because it does not overshadow the verbs, but rather adds to them. The second characteristic is the proper use of syntax, rhythm, sound, and meaning. These four things should be complex but balanced, and should never stray to far towards one or the other. The final characteristic is using word endings in an artful way. This includes stressing certain word endings in order to make the phrases and sentances flow almost poetically. The chapter stresses that through proper practice and use of these chracteristics, elegance can be made in writing.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Finally hit 15 sources...

"Chelsea FC sets goal of scoring in U.S. market.(Anschutz Entertainment Group)(Brief article)." Brandweek 47.14 (April 3, 2006): 16(1). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 19 April 2006
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This article gives a summary of how clubs like reigning Premier League champion Chelsea are attempting to broaden their support in the United States. This will help give me some possible clues or ideas as to how we as Americans can better support the sport. I will use it to back up my own ideas, as well as present some new ideas on ways to enlarge the soccer market here. Chelsea’s immense success overseas and their desire to delve into the United States will be a good basis for what is being done and what still can be done.

Childress, Boyd. "Haner, Jim. Soccerhead: An Accidental Journey into the Heart of the American Game." Library Journal 131.6 (April 1, 2006): 102(2). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 19 April 2006
.

This book discusses the importance soccer as a youth sport in the United States. It states that soccer is the number one youth sport, and follows one man’s journey in attempting to be a youth soccer coach in Washington DC. It goes back and forth between historical information as well as personal research. It should be a strong source which I will be able to pull some direct quotes from in stressing America’s youth movement and necessary support needed for this movement.

Deitsch, Richard. "Q& A: DaMarcus Beasley: The 23-year-old U.S national soccer team star is currently playing in Holland for PSV Eindhoven.(Scorecard)(Brief Article)(Interview)." Sports Illustrated 103.16 (Oct 24, 2005): 24. Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

This text is an interview with one of the players from our national team, DeMarcus Beasley. In the interview, he gives his opinion on the differences between american soccer and soccer overseas, specifically in Holland. I feel like this source will be a good one to pull quotes from, as he gives an american perspective on how soccer is viewed overseas. Although this will not be one of my primary sources, it will be useful in adding to the overall feeling that most people in the U.S. share concerning soccer’s popularity and growth.

Duodu, Cameron. "World Cup, here we come! Oh, the joys of football. At long last, the glamorous Black Stars of Ghana have qualified for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. How it reminds all of us--full-blooded Ghanaian boys--of the good old days when we kicked stones and pebbles about, whilst trying to turn ofuntum (gum tree) juice and other things into footballs.(Under the Neem Tree)." New African 446 (Dec 2005): 46(2). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

This article gives a different perspective concerning soccer’s growth around the world; specifically, from a native of Ghana. He delves into how soccer is developed in Africa, going into extreme detail concerning the rough conditions the people deal with. This includes playing on gravel paths, with balls made of rubber sap. He also gives clues as to why soccer is so popular in Africa, and in turn, around most of the world. This article will be useful in helping me develop reasons why soccer has gained popularity in areas outside of the U.S.

Ewing, Jack. "A Tough Game For Eurosport; The all-sports channel broadcasts it all, to 54 countries in 19 languages. But without access to the Premier League soccer games, it's a tough scrimmage." Business Week 3955 (Oct 17, 2005): 52. Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

This article, from Business Week, focuses on the TV channel Eursport. It explains the problems that come with attempts to air soccer games that people will watch, considering the fact that all the big leagues have strong TV deals. Think of it in a similar vein to ABC owning the rights to Monday Night Football. It then discusses the troubles that the company is going through, in attempting to reach broader audiences through various programs stressing growth. I will use this article mainly to highlight some of the reasons that soccer, from a media standpoint, struggles.

Keating, Frann. "The glory's gone.(SPECTATOR SPORT, soccer)." Spectator 299.9243 (Oct 1, 2005): 79(1). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

This text examines how soccer is treated by observers and spectators in England. It also talks about how people react to low-scoring games, and how this effects peoples perceptions of soccer as a sport. I will use this article in order to give a British perspective on how soccer is not covered by the media, and in what ways people can work to fix this and help alleviate the situation. It also goes into the differences between seeing a match in person and watching it on tv. I will use this section to help describe how important soccer matches are for supporters, in similar ways to american’s going to their respective teams games whenever they can

Murray, W. J. The World's Game : A History of Soccer. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996.

This book is a good source of information on the sport of soccer in general, over its entire history. It explains soccer from its roots, and goes into the reasons for its growths (or lack thereof) in the world. It also describes soccer as an ambassador of sorts for nations around the world, as it is able to bring together several different races and cultures with a simple game. Soccer is known as the "Beautiful Game," and this book explains why this is an accepted idea in almost all of the world.

Pingree, Geoff. "The Ugly Game.(Europe)." Time International (Europe Edition) 167.14 (April 3, 2006): 22. Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 19 April 2006
http://find.galegroup.com/itx/infomark.do?&contentSet=IAC-Documents&type=retrieve&tabID=T002&prodId=EAIM&docId=A144445097&source=gale&srcprod=EAIM&userGroupName=vic_randolph&version=1.0

This article, although not directly related to my specific area of study, will still be of some use to me. It goes over the problems that racism cause for many soccer teams all around the world. While specifically focusing on Europe, it does cover some of the more broad issues as to why racism is such a hot topic in the world of soccer. What I want to bring from this article is the fact that even where soccer is a huge success, it still has its problems. Kinks still need to be worked out, and the patrons of the game are still finding ways to make the game better. Americans need to see this and understand that the game is always changing, and we need to catch up in order to achieve what other countries already have.

Price, Stuart. "Africa: World Cup fever; The achievement of the four African nations--Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Angola--who will travel to Germany next year and make their debut on football's greatest stage is nothing short of remarkable, especially considering that three of the four are neighbouring countries. The other African qualifier is Tunisia. Stuart Price reports.(Around Africa)." New African 445 (Nov 2005): 20(1). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

This article focuses on soccer in Africa, and the importance that is placed in making the World Cup in order to further the sport, nationally and globally. When we saw the World Cup come to the US (1994), soccer in the US received a small burst of coverage for soccer is a sport. This article examines how this boom is beginning to hit Africa, and enhance a sport that is played in Africa to a sport that is being covered in media as well. I will use this article to show the things that a continent like Africa is doing in order to give more popularity to soccer as a sport, and to perhaps give our own country some clues as to what can be done.

Serafini, Dom. "Italian soccer fans Americas' TV fans." Video Age International 25.6 (Oct 2005): 1(3). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

This article will be one of my main sources, due to its extensive amount of information. It describes soccer in Italy as "Hollywood," and relates soccer as its "key entertainment vehicle." Italian soccer players are stars in their home countries, something that U.S. soccer players have not yet achieved. I will use this article to describe and report what soccer has reached in foreign countries, as a social catalyst for style, fashion, and pop culture.

Smits, Ted. The Game of Soccer. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968.

This book, written in 1968, examines the upstart of soccer from the earliest stages. It delves into the true development of soccer, going from a sport that was originally a fusion of what we now know as rugby and what we now know as soccer. It also goes shortly into the development of soccer in the United States, but because it was written almost 40 years ago, it fails to capture what soccer has become in the last couple of decades.

Szymanski, Stefan. National Pastime : How Americans Play Baseball and the Rest of the World Plays Soccer. Washington, D.C. : Brookings Institution Press, 1960.

This book, written in 1960, is particularly interesting because of its examination of baseball taking over the United States, while the rest of the world embraced soccer. Because it was written in the midst of the crossover, it gives strong reasoning for both the United State’s hesitance with soccer and the rest of the worlds love affair with the sport. This will be one of my primary sources, as its length and amount of information will be vital for my controversy study. Although it is old, it’s age does not detract from the perspective that it offers on the reasons why soccer never grew in the United States.

Vivarelli, Nick, John Hopewell, Liza Klaussman, Ed Meza, and Steve Clarke. "The rights stuff: soccer scores big in new media.(TELEVISION/INTERNATIONAL)." Variety 401.13 (Feb 13, 2006): 30(1). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

This is another article that I will be using a large amount of information from throughout my paper. It gives a country by country analysis of the media’s impact in several European countries. Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and the UK are all featured and discussed at length. It explains the reasons why the game’s tv rights are in such demand, and goes on to examine the omnicsent presence that soccer emits over the media and culture. This article will be useful due to its extensive research on overseas soccer coverage, and in turn, impact.

Weber, Bruce. "Growing the game: under the guidance of Hank Steinbrecher, the former Secretary General of the U.S. Soccer Federation, American soccer came of age.(PERSON TO PERSON)(Interview)." Coach and Athletic Director 75.5 (Dec 2005): 36(6). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

This will, without a doubt, be one of my primary sources. It is a direct interview with a man who helped lead soccer in America to what it is today. Considering the changes we have seen in the 90's and into the present, it is easy to understand his influence on the game in the US. The interviewee, Mr. Steinbrecher, overs his opinions on soccer’s status in the United States, as opposed to overseas. He also reveals some of his personal experiences and accomplishments on bringing soccer into its current state.

Wentz, Laurel. "Goal-oriented game; Expect a flurry of ad action as World Cup scores with Latino fans." Advertising Age 77.5 (Jan 30, 2006): S1. Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

I found this article to be helpful due to its descriptions of the media’s focus on Hispanic viewers and/or listeners. It goes into detail about the reasons why this is happening, and helps to describe its impact on Americans, as the primary minority is moving quickly to overwhelmingly Latino. It shows the lengths to which media groups will go, just to generate buzz about a game or a team. It also moves into the importance of the upcoming World Cup, and the buzz that is surrounding that event.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My Annotated Bib so far...12 sources
Deitsch, Richard. "Q& A: DaMarcus Beasley: The 23-year-old U.S national soccer team star is currently playing in Holland for PSV Eindhoven.(Scorecard)(Brief Article)(Interview)." Sports Illustrated 103.16 (Oct 24, 2005): 24. Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.
This text is an interview with one of the players from our national team, DeMarcus Beasley. In the interview, he gives his opinion on the differences between american soccer and soccer overseas, specifically in Holland. I feel like this source will be a good one to pull quotes from, as he gives an american perspective on how soccer is viewed overseas. Although this will not be one of my primary sources, it will be useful in adding to the overall feeling that most people in the U.S. share concerning soccer’s popularity and growth.
Duodu, Cameron. "World Cup, here we come! Oh, the joys of football. At long last, the glamorous Black Stars of Ghana have qualified for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. How it reminds all of us--full-blooded Ghanaian boys--of the good old days when we kicked stones and pebbles about, whilst trying to turn ofuntum (gum tree) juice and other things into footballs.(Under the Neem Tree)." New African 446 (Dec 2005): 46(2). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.
This article gives a different perspective concerning soccer’s growth around the world; specifically, from a native of Ghana. He delves into how soccer is developed in Africa, going into extreme detail concerning the rough conditions the people deal with. This includes playing on gravel paths, with balls made of rubber sap. He also gives clues as to why soccer is so popular in Africa, and in turn, around most of the world. This article will be useful in helping me develop reasons why soccer has gained popularity in areas outside of the U.S.
Ewing, Jack. "A Tough Game For Eurosport; The all-sports channel broadcasts it all, to 54 countries in 19 languages. But without access to the Premier League soccer games, it's a tough scrimmage." Business Week 3955 (Oct 17, 2005): 52. Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.
This article, from Business Week, focuses on the TV channel Eursport. It explains the problems that come with attempts to air soccer games that people will watch, considering the fact that all the big leagues have strong TV deals. Think of it in a similar vein to ABC owning the rights to Monday Night Football. It then discusses the troubles that the company is going through, in attempting to reach broader audiences through various programs stressing growth. I will use this article mainly to highlight some of the reasons that soccer, from a media standpoint, struggles.
Keating, Frann. "The glory's gone.(SPECTATOR SPORT, soccer)." Spectator 299.9243 (Oct 1, 2005): 79(1). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.
This text examines how soccer is treated by observers and spectators in England. It also talks about how people react to low-scoring games, and how this effects peoples perceptions of soccer as a sport. I will use this article in order to give a British perspective on how soccer is not covered by the media, and in what ways people can work to fix this and help alleviate the situation. It also goes into the differences between seeing a match in person and watching it on tv. I will use this section to help describe how important soccer matches are for supporters, in similar ways to american’s going to their respective teams games whenever they can
Murray, W. J. The World's Game : A History of Soccer. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996.
This book is a good source of information on the sport of soccer in general, over its entire history. It explains soccer from its roots, and goes into the reasons for its growths (or lack thereof) in the world. It also describes soccer as an ambassador of sorts for nations around the world, as it is able to bring together several different races and cultures with a simple game. Soccer is known as the "Beautiful Game," and this book explains why this is an accepted idea in almost all of the world.
Price, Stuart. "Africa: World Cup fever; The achievement of the four African nations--Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Angola--who will travel to Germany next year and make their debut on football's greatest stage is nothing short of remarkable, especially considering that three of the four are neighbouring countries. The other African qualifier is Tunisia. Stuart Price reports.(Around Africa)." New African 445 (Nov 2005): 20(1). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

This article focuses on soccer in Africa, and the importance that is placed in making the World Cup in order to further the sport, nationally and globally. When we saw the World Cup come to the US (1994), soccer in the US received a small burst of coverage for soccer is a sport. This article examines how this boom is beginning to hit Africa, and enhance a sport that is played in Africa to a sport that is being covered in media as well. I will use this article to show the things that a continent like Africa is doing in order to give more popularity to soccer as a sport, and to perhaps give our own country some clues as to what can be done.
Serafini, Dom. "Italian soccer fans Americas' TV fans." Video Age International 25.6 (Oct 2005): 1(3). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.
This article will be one of my main sources, due to its extensive amount of information. It describes soccer in Italy as "Hollywood," and relates soccer as its "key entertainment vehicle." Italian soccer players are stars in their home countries, something that U.S. soccer players have not yet achieved. I will use this article to describe and report what soccer has reached in foreign countries, as a social catalyst for style, fashion, and pop culture.
Smits, Ted. The Game of Soccer. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968.
This book, written in 1968, examines the upstart of soccer from the earliest stages. It delves into the true development of soccer, going from a sport that was originally a fusion of what we now know as rugby and what we now know as soccer. It also goes shortly into the development of soccer in the United States, but because it was written almost 40 years ago, it fails to capture what soccer has become in the last couple of decades.
Szymanski, Stefan. National Pastime : How Americans Play Baseball and the Rest of the World Plays Soccer. Washington, D.C. : Brookings Institution Press, 1960.
This book, written in 1960, is particularly interesting because of its examination of baseball taking over the United States, while the rest of the world embraced soccer. Because it was written in the midst of the crossover, it gives strong reasoning for both the United State’s hesitance with soccer and the rest of the worlds love affair with the sport. This will be one of my primary sources, as its length and amount of information will be vital for my controversy study. Although it is old, it’s age does not detract from the perspective that it offers on the reasons why soccer never grew in the United States.
Vivarelli, Nick, John Hopewell, Liza Klaussman, Ed Meza, and Steve Clarke. "The rights stuff: soccer scores big in new media.(TELEVISION/INTERNATIONAL)." Variety 401.13 (Feb 13, 2006): 30(1). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.
This is another article that I will be using a large amount of information from throughout my paper. It gives a country by country analysis of the media’s impact in several European countries. Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and the UK are all featured and discussed at length. It explains the reasons why the game’s tv rights are in such demand, and goes on to examine the omnicsent presence that soccer emits over the media and culture. This article will be useful due to its extensive research on overseas soccer coverage, and in turn, impact.
Weber, Bruce. "Growing the game: under the guidance of Hank Steinbrecher, the former Secretary General of the U.S. Soccer Federation, American soccer came of age.(PERSON TO PERSON)(Interview)." Coach and Athletic Director 75.5 (Dec 2005): 36(6). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.
This will, without a doubt, be one of my primary sources. It is a direct interview with a man who helped lead soccer in America to what it is today. Considering the changes we have seen in the 90's and into the present, it is easy to understand his influence on the game in the US. The interviewee, Mr. Steinbrecher, overs his opinions on soccer’s status in the United States, as opposed to overseas. He also reveals some of his personal experiences and accomplishments on bringing soccer into its current state.
Wentz, Laurel. "Goal-oriented game; Expect a flurry of ad action as World Cup scores with Latino fans." Advertising Age 77.5 (Jan 30, 2006): S1. Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.
I found this article to be helpful due to its descriptions of the media’s focus on Hispanic viewers and/or listeners. It goes into detail about the reasons why this is happening, and helps to describe its impact on Americans, as the primary minority is moving quickly to overwhelmingly Latino. It shows the lengths to which media groups will go, just to generate buzz about a game or a team. It also moves into the importance of the upcoming World Cup, and the buzz that is surrounding that event.

Monday, April 17, 2006

One-Page Journal Proposal

As I have continued my research over the past semester, my views of my chosen community and its controversy have experienced non-stop growth. Whereas at first I thought I had a solid grasp on the reasons behind soccer’s lack of support in the United States (as well as its dominance overseas), shortly into my research period I realized this was not the case. So many factors, some cultural, some political, some economic, have molded the perception of soccer in the United States. By combining my personal experience with extensive research on the subject, I hope to provide a solid base for my overall argument.
My argument is that we, as Americans, are the ones to blame for these problems. What I am hoping to do is to elicit a response in much the same way the Schlosser does with his work. While he does not come outright and blame our culture for the problems associated with the fast food juggernauts, he does slowly make it clear that we are, at least partially, to blame. I am going to begin by making myself, a long-time soccer lover and advocate, out to be a hero. I will, through my narrative, realize the mistake in my ways and begin to understand why soccer is so popular in other countries. However, I will go on to explain that I, as of yet, have done nothing to strengthen the support of soccer in people around me. True, I love the sport, but I am as non-enthusiastic as the next person regarding trying to actually do something to better the sport in the United States.
I will be writing on behalf of Sports Illustrated. While I could never see Sports Illustrated ever bashing our country’s stance on any sport, I could see them doing some sort of article close to what I am doing. Without being overly aggressive, I want to make it clear that although our history has formed our current perception of soccer, our lack of care has kept it this way. We don’t care about what soccer could be or what it is overseas; we see it as a foreign sport, and as such, one that should stay foreign. By using a combination of personal experience and outside research, I will explore the exact reasons that soccer remains a forgotten commodity (other than in youth circles) in our country. I will then explain what other countries have done to improve the support for soccer, and use these ideas as building blocks for things that we could do. Ultimately, I want to show the reader that a lack of current support does not mean that soccer can grow into the sports juggernaut that it is in the rest of the world.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Style Guide Lesson 8

The eighth chapter in our Style handbook is titled "Shape." It begins by discussing the basic premise of the chapter. That is, gaining clarity through complexity by using the shape of a sentence to better your reader's ability to interperate your writing. A sentence has shape when it flows together as a unit, rather than as a choppy mess of sprawling complexity. It then goes over several ways to revise your writing, looking specifically for shape related problems. One of the best ways to recognize shape problems is to look at other people's works. Focus on looking for the speed in which you encounter verbs, and subsequently, the amount of unneeded subordinate clauses that follow these verbs. You should be able to find the verb in the main clause relatively quickly. Also, get someone else to read your work outloud. If they continuily hesitate at multiple interruptions in your sentence, you probably have some problems with your sentence's shape. It goes on to say that you should avoid interrupting subjects, verbs, and objects. These interrupting words or clauses should be moved to the beginning or end of your sentence, not be placed in the middle of it. It ends by going over the importance of coordinating elements that are parallel both in meaning and in grammar.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

This is a reworked article that I had done for a "History of the English Langauge" course. I tried to incorporate many of the style elements that I have read about in our style handbook, specifically, concision....


Some texts, upon reading through the first time, are easy to pinpoint as being a certain dialect. This is not the case in this document, as we see elements of several different dialects throughout the text. The phonological changes that we see lead us to believe this is primarily a southern text, first shown by the use of the long [o] over the long [a]. This can be seen in the word oghne (line 3, modern day own), as that first sound appears to be a long [o]. We also see an abundance of [v] as opposed to the northern [f], shown in such words as avant, vice, vertu, lovers, have, and nevere. However, there are also several contradictions to this feature, as seen in ferst, fame, for, fond, and forthi. Morphological features also vary in dialect, such as the use of the verb ending [-eth] as well as the use of the verb ending [e]. We see the more southern [-eth] in words like lasseth, overthroweth, and bloweth, but we also see the midlands [e] ending in words such as hadde and felle. The pronoun hem is used, which a Middle English isogloss shows to be a southern as well as a midland feature. Another example of the contradictions we see come in the form of present participles, where the southern and midlands ending [-ing] is seen (grietinge, likinge), but is combated by the presence of the [-ende] ending, an east midlands feature (amende, sende). For all of these reasons, I would conclude that this text seems to be a mixture of all of the Middle English dialects, leading me to believe that the author may not have been English at all.
Moving on to the features of the text that may show it to be Middle English, I will first discuss the spelling changes we encounter. We see uses of both the Old English [c], as in cold, cleped, and cause, as well as the Middle English [k], seen in take, tok, and knowlechinge. The text also features both the Old English [f] and the Middle English [v], as in vice, avantarie, ferst, and fame. The middle English feature of changing [h] to [gh] is found in words like noght, oghne, and purgh; however, this change has yet to occur in the word riht. The interchangeability of [y] and [i] is an example of a Middle English feature, and is seen in words like wynd, myn, and mythe. Another interesting note is the fact that the sound found in the middle of the words mesure and reson is a [z] sound. This is in fact an example of borrowing, as the French sound [z] is used twice within the text. This, along with the abundance of [v] and the constant contradictions, leads me to believe that the author may have fact been French, and decided to write this document in English, combining his own French attributes with some Old English and Middle English features as well.

Friday, April 14, 2006

It’s a typical Sunday morning. I wake up around 11:30, surveying my surroundings to assure myself that I am indeed in the correct dorm and room. My mouth is dryer than my roomate’s crude sense of humor, as he yells in my ear "Ready to go eat?" I struggle to respond with any true words, choosing rather to utter nothing more than a faint grunt and a nod of my head. I slowly emerge from my bed and walk out of Mary Branch. I turn left, and see the destination that every student seeks for brunch on the weekend; estes. I enter the heavy, blacked-out doors, give my card to the wonderful woman we all know as Norma, and pause as an intoxicating aroma invades my nostrils. It seems inexplicable, and as I struggle to decode exactly what I am smelling, I continue walking. It has a sweet aroma, like a mixture of warm caramel and powdered sugar. It pierces my nasal cavity, reminding me of a sugar/spice confection that I simply cannot put my finger on. And then it hits me. Maple syrup. The smell is unmistakable, and it takes me back to my mother waking us up on Christmas Day. As we finish unwrapping presents, she begins cooking. And as soon as I smell that simple scent, I know that breakfast is ready to be served. For a split-second, I am lifted from reality and taken into my past, into simpler times. Times when I did not have to worry about paying for my education, or about 20-page term papers, or about blogging daily. I move away from the community of Randolph-Macon and am placed back into my kitchen, with my entire family around me, drinking coffee and juice and waiting for breakfast. And then, I continue walking, and see the tray with the scrambled eggs. And then reality bites me in the ass, and I spend the next 40 minutes staring at my untouched plate and slamming back yellow Gatorade.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The life of a white hip hop fan

Ever since I first heard the song "California Love" by Tupac and Dr. Dre, I have been a hip hop fan. Now this may seem odd, considering my status as a middle-upper class white male who grew up in a suburban neighborhood. Certainaly, most would expect a person of my class and social stature to be more at home listening to grunge rock, pop, or metal. Instead, I have always been a fan of hip hop music, and in turn, hip hop culture. For some reason, the sounds that come from a simple rock band (guitar, drum, bass guitar) just do not quench my thirst for musical greatness. Instead, I feel more at home listening to music that has no real instruments in use, but rather, the vision of a producer and an artist combining to create a form of poetry that is only available with hip hop. It is street, it is urban, and it is me. I do enjoy many classic rock bands; Led Zeppelin, the Doobie Brothers, and even the more modern Dave Matthews Band all are incredible groups that created incredible music. However, I feel like most modern music is far too watered down to be worth my money or my time. Rock artists today live off of power chords and choppy, saddening lyrics. Hip hop is different. It encourages freedom, encourages choice. Any instrument, any sound, can be turned into the base for a hip hop beat. Furthermore, a true signing voice is not neccesary for a hip hop star. Instead, swagger and flow are much more important. Rappers who are able to create internal rhyme and play with words, much in the way that poets did before them, are the kings of the industry. They paint pictures with their words, and with their beats. They create a sight that suburban america does not see, and does not want to see. A life headlined by hard times, drug dealing, and voilence. The true city life. They don't rap about their lost girlfriend, they rap about what they go through and the hardships they have passed to get to where they are today. And because of this, I have the ultimate respect for them. Not only is hip hop a music genre that I listen to...It is far more. Hip hop is a way of life. Even a surburban, white, middle to upper class kid from a well-off family can see that. It is time to stop rejecting, and to start embracing.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Journal-Outlining Fast Food Nation

Chapter 1: The Founding Fathers
Introduces a man, Carl N. Karcher, and an area, southern California.
Carl moves from his ultra-rural roots in Ohio to southern California.
Describes the town of Anaheim and the areas that surround it.
Carl begins working for his uncle and meets Margaret Heinz.
Details Carl and Margaret’s courtship and marriage.
Describes Carl’s first venture into his own business, consisting of a hot dog cart.
Talks about the growth of southern California between 1920 and 1940.
Automobile travel is coming into its own in Southern Cal.
Trolley systems give way to automobiles and bus lines.
History of GM and other companies attempts to destroy America’s light rail network.
New business’s, such as drive-in restaurants, become more popular.
Describes drive-in restaurants as a sign of youth movement.
Details Carl’s business between 1944 and 1945.
California becomes a cultural and social epicenter after World War II.
Carl’s business, the drive-in barbeque, begins to gain steam and he gets more financially stable.
Details the McDonald family leaving New Hampshire for southern California.
McDonald brothers choose to leave the drive-in business for something new.
They focus on speedier, cheaper, and higher volume sales; self-service becomes the key
Restaurant combines architecture with advertising through the golden arches.
System starts off rocky, but gains steam with time.
Some background information on the Hell’s angels and their desire for filthiness.
Carl visited the McDonald’s and decided to use some of their ideas for his own restaurant.
More and more business’s begin to copy the system put in place by McDonalds.
Describes the history of many of the famous fast food pioneers, like Dave Thomas and William Rosenberg.
The story of Harland Sanders and the rise of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
For all of the success stories, countless numbers of failures.
Overly complex systems are tested out for distributing food, but ultimately fail.
Carl’s restaurant service fights in the fierce southern California fast food wars.
The leaders of the fast food wars begin to spread across the nation.
Recaps Carl’s rise from a hot dog cart to the success of Carl Karcher enterprises.
CKE goes public, but reports of insider trading hurt the company’s image.
Goes over Carl’s unwise investments in fields like real eastate and loans with banks.
Carl eventually gets fired from the company that he started.
Goes over what CKE use to have and what now replaces it.
Carl meets the author, appears grandiose.
Discusses Carl’s takeover of his own company following his firing.
Carl goes over his outlook on life, love it for what it is.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Journal-Arguments
After reading through the chapters located in our "Everything’s an Argument" book, I have determined that a combination of argumentative styles will be the best for my chosen controversy. Following the Toulmin model, I believe that I will be able to make several claims that will immediately stir up debate. By examining soccer’s success elsewhere, I will be able to evoke emotions within the American public about their most cherished sports. I will spark debate by saying the American viewpoint is wrong. By saying this, my readers (who will almost be exclusively American) may not agree with my point. However, the important thing is that they will recognize that there is, indeed, a debate to be discussed over the importance of certain sports in certain countries. The casual argument, discussed in Chapter 11, will also be a main part of my overall argumentative style. I will be able to explore soccer’s growth and popularity as an effect elsewhere, and then trace it back to its causes. Likewise, I will do the same for the United States, but have the effect be its lack of growth and popularity. This effect resulting from cause model will be a mainstay in my paper. It will help to show my argument in a broad sense, and then narrow it down to its true roots. As for evidence, my two main sources will be personal experience and global research. As discussed in my narrative, I have a wealth of knowledge at my own disposal as a result of my own experiences. I have lived soccer almost my entire life, and continue to do so today. As a result, I have noticed first hand the preconceptions and notions that the sport garners in the United States. I also did a large amount of research for my first paper on the sport’s history elsewhere in the world, as well as here. I will be able to bring in this research to feed my argument and keep the reader well informed. This will also help strengthen my image, as an author who is well versed in his selected community and controversy.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Style Guide Chapter 7

The seventh chapter in our Style textbook is entitled "Concision." It begins by going over five main principles of concision. These include getting rid of words that mean little or nothing, that repeat the meanings of other words, or that are implied by other words. It also goes over replacing phrases with a single word, and changing negatives to affirmatives. Using these basic principles, you can revise your own work in order to make it more concise, and thereby, easier to read. The chapter then discusses the term metadiscourse, which is a type of redundancy. This term was introduced to us in lesson 4, and it refers to the writer's intentions, confidence, directions to the reader, and the structure of the text. Also, it warns against excessive intensifying; that is, using words like very, pretty, quite, etc. Confident writers, it reads, "use intensifiers less often...because thet want to avoid sounding too assertive." It ends by going back over the major rules we learned, and stresses the importance of remaining concise but not flat.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Cigarettes...Why do people smoke them? Better yet, why do people accept the fact that these huge companies are charging us for a faster route to death? Cigarettes, in general, are about the biggest turn-off I can think of. If I meet a girl who smokes, its all over. Even my friends who smoke anger me more and more everytime they light up a cancer stick. Worse yet, they get annoyed when I tell them to go outside or down the hall to smoke these death-bearing cylinders. I have never once smoked a cigarette, and never plan on doing it. Truthfully, I just don't see the point. Your throwing countless sums of money on things that will do nothing more than give you a slight buzz and a quicker death rate. Obviously, however, I am in a bit of a minority. Several of my friends are constant smokers, with even more who claim that they are "casual smokers." By this, they mean they'll smoke a cigarette or two after a few drinks, or only on weekends. So I began to think about the possible psychological factors behind people's desires to smoke them. I've come up with a few possible reasons for this. First of all, acceptance. If a teenager has friends who are smoking, and he wants to hang out with his friends, eventually he is going to smoke. Now there are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, many smokers want to feel like they are part of a group, or share a common bond with their friends. Another reason is that people use it as a reward. At Randolph-Macon, many students will celebrate the end of their current class period with a cigarette. Along with this, they may use it as a chance to pass time. If theyre five minutes early, they will smoke a cigarette to pass this time. Finally, I think smoking in general has a lot to do with the common human desire for oral pleasure (not like that sickos). As a child, many of us sucked our thumb. Personally, I still find myself biting the end of pencils and pens and chewing on them. Chewing gum is common enough, as are breath mints. People use chewing gum as a way to cut down on smoking, so it makes sense to me that this is a reason for people starting to smoke cigarettes. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be like one of these truth commercials. I'm just saying that the reasons for smoking are unbelieveably juvenile and idiotic. With that said, I will never be able to change a smoker's mind. Oh well.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

My Completed Narrative
Alec Depcrynski
Spirit of the Game
The sea is calm and tranquil. The island, located approximately 500 miles off the coast of Ecuador, is buzzing with wildlife. Lizards scurry in and out of the brush lining the beach. Some birds soar overhead, while others, nearly three feet tall, wobble around on the ground. The constant sound of sea lions jumping in and out of the water serves to break the extreme silence. The sand, a deep reddish-black tint, remains eerily cool despite the sun’s omniscient presence.
All the while, a group of 20 or so people, coming from all over the world, have gathered together on the island. They have picked out a segment of land that has obviously been used before for this very purpose. The ground is a mixture of sand, dirt, and small pebbles. On either side of the clearing stand two crude but serviceable goals. The goals may be rusty and dilapidated. The ground may be slippery and even painful. The ball may be no more than a rubber kickball by American standards. The languages are so intertwined that no one can truly communicate with each other. But still, the sport being played is unmistakable. Here, 500 miles off the coast of true civilization, a soccer game is being played.
I grew up knowing just one sport: soccer. I have been playing it for as long as I can remember. My brother began playing when he was about 7, and as most siblings do, I followed in his footsteps. I started out playing recreation league, which is basically where all youth soccer players start their career. From here, I moved onto the club level, also known as "Travel soccer," so-called because my team would play teams from all over the country. For example, we would play in tournaments against teams from up and down the east coast, or in league games with teams from all over Virginia. We also did our fair share of traveling, going to places like Arizona and Florida for games. About this time, as I was traversing my way through the journey we all know as Middle School, my dad got involved with soccer. He took a job as General Manager of the Richmond Kickers, a professional soccer team based in Richmond, VA. He has since moved on to become President of the Club, and is respected nationwide as one of the pioneers of the new soccer movement based on vertical integration; that is, soccer clubs being taught from the ground up, going from youth clubs to semi-pro teams and on to professional teams, both for men and women. I went on to play for my high school squad, continued with my club team, and eventually was scouted to play for the Randolph-Macon team.
You may be asking yourself why any of my background matters, as far as relating to the game of soccer being played on a small and uninhabited island. Well, from the beginning, I was always blessed with the best equipment. I bought high quality cleats and shingaurds, even when I was only playing soccer recreationally. The teams I played on always had several fields from which to choose from, whether for practice or for match play. Because of my dad’s stature in the Virginia soccer world, I was able to train with a semi-professional team as early as my 16th birthday. I was able to work with the best coaches, play with the best players, and train on the best fields.
Basically, I was spoiled. However, this is not something that I have experienced in solitude. Most all of the players that I have competed with have been given the same advantages. Despite soccer’s low level of recognition on a professional level in the United States, the youth programs do not have this problem. In fact, a lot of money is put into the youth program, if for nothing other than parents wanting to make their children happy. They enjoy much of the best equipment that money can buy, because their parents are willing and financially able to pay for it. Because of this, they are also likely to take these advantages for granted. Personally, I never even thought about the money that my parents were putting into my love of soccer. I never thought about the fact that a club team like the one I played for had costs per season of well over $400. Add to that the cost of soccer cleats (upwards of $100), balls ($80 per), shingaurds ($30), and uniform costs (way too much), and you’ve got the recipe for excessive spending. Multiply all of these costs by the amount of seasons I have been playing (14), and you begin to understand how much money goes into a typical soccer player’s life in suburban America. I never thought about how much financial obligation and backing goes into the sport, and, in truth, I took it all for granted.
That is, until the summer of 2003. My mother was trying to determine some sort of family vacation that we could all take. As it turned out, her sister (my aunt) had a son who was planning a trip with a few classmates to Ecuador. Now, as much as I enjoy traveling, the country of Ecuador did not quite pique my interest. However, after speaking to my cousin, I learned that along with this trip would be a week spent traveling around the Galapagos Islands. At this point, my only thought was "Where do I sign?" I had always been interested in wildlife, and this vacation seemed like a dream to me. The Galapagos Islands are one of the most diverse series of islands on the entire globe, where the animals range from penguins to flamingos to enormous turtles. Each island is essentially a world of its own, and for this reason, I felt like this was a chance to explore something that I might never see again.
We left for the trip in August of 2003. After spending a week in Ecuador, which was actually much more fun than I had anticipated, we got to the part of the journey that I had been waiting for. We took a plane and landed on Santa Cruz, the largest island of the Galapagos, and the vibrant center of human activity. From here, we would be traveling by boat to the various islands that were located throughout this incredible archipelago. As I got to know our tour guide and the boat’s crew, it became more and more clear to me that they were enormous soccer fans. This did not really surprise me, as most of them were Ecuadorian, and I had already seen the immense amount of support that soccer garnered there. When I informed them that I also played soccer, they seemed taken aback; almost in awe that someone from the United States actually enjoyed the sport. They also informed me that near the end of our week-long trip, we would have a chance to join in on a game, and that I was more than welcome to accompany them.
That day came on the second to last day of our journey. We arrived at a tiny, uninhabited island called Rabida. This island was known for its amazing beach, which was comprised of a deep burgundy color. This color was a direct result of the immense volcanic activity that had become a staple of this island. As we neared the beach, moving slowly so as not to disturb the sea lion population that was resting nearby, I saw a large clearing of land with two unmistakable objects: Goals. There, less then 100 feet from the beach, was a soccer field. Obviously, it was not up to par as far as American standards, but it was nothing short of amazing in my eyes. Amazing in the sense that here, in a place where no human footsteps were seen except for those of tourists and tour guides, a soccer field was present. The crew of my tour boat, myself, and two more tour boats that had obviously known when this game was going to occur, all gathered near the field and took off our shoes. One ball was present, a crude and slightly flat Kelme ball that would never pass for game-worthy in the United States. Most all of the staff spoke Spanish, but at this point, communication was unnecessary. We were here to play a game; a game that we all could enjoy, and a game that brought us together; not as tourists and staff members, but as people.
What I discovered in this trip was the supreme passion that follows the sport of soccer elsewhere in the world. They did not need expensive equipment, and they did not need a top of the line soccer ball. For that matter, they did not even need a common language. They played the sport because of its simplicity, because of its beauty. They found time, in their constant workload of moving from island to island, week to week, to set up a day when they could all meet and enjoy their sport. They saw it as a chance to bond, as a chance to enjoy themselves and get away from the stresses of modern life. They saw soccer for what it is: a game to be enjoyed by a group of people, with no regard for race, class, gender, or age. They understood that soccer was an equalizer, where material wealth and stature have no meaning. They understood the spirit of the game. And now, so do I.