Soccer is one of the most popular kinds of sport in the world. It is an integral part of the social and cultural life in many countries. In recent decades, soccer has been considered not only as a branch of sport but also as a field for scientific researches. There has been a remarkable expansion of sports science both as an academic discipline and as a field of applied practice. Many institutions around the world develop formal academic programs to study soccer from a perspective of physiology, psychology, biomechanics, performance analysis, sociology, and history (Williams 9). That is why there are many books, magazines, and scientific articles, which give the outlook on soccer as a sport game and an object of scientific researches.
Galeano Eduardo in the book Soccer in Sun and Shadow describes the history of soccer development. He states that soccer for the first time was played in China. “Five thousand years ago, Chinese jugglers had balls dancing on their feet, and it was not long before they organized the first games” (Eduardo 23). From that period soccer has undergone different transformations before it became soccer that is now popular around the world. If to describe the history of soccer in brief, which can be applied to every culture and country, such words of Galeano Eduardo should be mentioned: “The history of soccer is a sad voyage from beauty to duty. When the sport became an industry, the beauty that blossoms for the joy of play got torn out by its very roots. In this fin-de-siècle world, professional soccer condemns all that is useless and useless mean not profitable” (Galeano 2). Although, it may seem that the author wants to present the history of soccer as its transformation from the game for fun into the game for money, in fact, he aims to reveal all the peculiarities of the modern professional soccer, which is not only a simple kicking the ball, but a complex commercial game. It is possible to achieve this goal only considering all stages of soccer starting from the early periods and comparing them with the modern ones.
However, the history of soccer is not the same for all countries. Each country has its own peculiarities in playing this game. The USA is not an exception. It is clearly described in the book Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism by Markovits Andrei and Steven Hellerman. The authors state that social and political structures of the USA make American culture differ from the European one. They define such political reasons for this American exceptionalism: treating of people as citizens, not as objects; an absence of a feudal order in the United States; the vast space of the American continent that allowed for geographic mobility; the abundance of cheap land, which allowed individuals to seek their fortune apart from inhabited areas; American Dream that predicated on the individual’s achievements, not on the collective’s entitlements; the multiethnic nature of the American population; bourgeois nature of America’s objective development and subjective self-legitimation (Markovits and Hellerman 8-9 ). These features of American exceptionalism also shape the peculiarities of sport in this country and are also applied to soccer. Markovits Andrei and Steven Hellerman describe American sport culture in such way: “ Thus, to stay with the United States as an example, we are much less interested in the fact that there are currently 19 million (largely youthful and upper-middle-class) soccer players in the country than we are with the fact that the Boston Globe – very typical for any comparable daily paper in a city with major sport teams – ran a minimum of six articles every day on the New England Patriots during the last three weeks of the 1997 football season, a number that regularly ballooned to ten on the Monday following an important game, and that such coverage of a local football, baseball, basketball, and – in some parts of the United States – hockey team is nothing unusual ”(Markovits and Hellerman 10).
Apart from the features that make soccer a unique part of culture, there are other features that make it a unique kind of sport. These features are described in the book Science and Soccer: Developing Elite Players by Williams Mark. The author states that to become an elite soccer player, it is necessary to follow biological requirements (nutritional requirements, training activities, and recovery strategies), the behavioral and social requirements (“skills, processes and mechanisms underpinning the superior ability of elite players to “read the game”), performance analysis, biomechanics and coaching requirements (the methods available for undertaking match and motion analysis), requirements for talent identification and youth development (methods of identification and development in soccer), requirements for integration and application (exercises for physical and mental preparation of the players) (Williams 10). If to follow all these requirements, players can achieve professionalism in soccer, and, according to the article "Soccer Greatly Improves Health in Young People"by Narula Shelley, gain many benefits. Narula Shelley states that with the help of soccer young people can improve their health and gain such benefits as “enhanced cardio-respiratory fitness, increased muscular strength and endurance, and favorable cholesterol and other profiles, which further prevent heart diseases” (Shelley n.p.). Moreover, the author admits that soccer is helpful for improvement of social position because it is a great way to socialize with friends through working as a team and doing all to gain victory
To sum up, soccer has been studied from different perspectives throughout different books, articles and researches. Only analyzing them, it is possible to look at soccer as on the all-in-one phenomenon.