[VIEWPOINT]If you like ballet, you'll like soccerSome people might wonder why the global community gets so excited about soccer. A soccer expert once said that soccer is war, while at the same time it is also chess and ballet.
I believe that soccer can be like war because the fierce struggle on a soccer field sometimes resembles combat. In a soccer match, if one side wins, the other side is bound to lose, just as in battle. In addition, soccer is a sport that can be physically violent.
Additionally, soccer can also be likened to a game of chess because soccer is a sport that requires strategy and tactics, much like playing chess. If soccer players from one team merely run around the field during a match, without any game plan, not only would that be a waste of energy but it would also put that team in a disadvantageous position.
A sound strategy is to put the flow of a game into an advantageous position by effectively using information and then planning to deal with an opposing team's weak and strong points.
Strategy not only applies to the other team, but it should also be used to help members of a team understand their own weak and strong points.
Soccer is also similar to ballet in the sense that like ballet soccer has rhythm and movement. And like ballet, soccer movement can portray beauty and even at times be beautiful. Actually, the body movements of famous soccer players during matches are nearly as rhythmic as those of ballet dancers. Not only does the movement of a soccer player's feet show extraordinary balance, but the sport overflows with lively movements during matches.
In that sense, soccer can be considered not only a sport, but a form of art as well.
War, chess and ballet. Any one of them can excite spectators, but only soccer has the quality of all three of those endeavors.
It would be strange for someone not to get excited to know that soccer's greatest international festival, which has the features of war, chess and ballet, is being staged at this moment in Korea.
Soccer originated in Europe and over the years the sport developed in Europe. Therefore, when one looks into the European experience, there are other features besides soccer's qualities of war, chess and ballet.
First, soccer today has become commercialized and now functions more than a simple sporting event. In fact, it has grown into an industry. Soccer is played wherever people gather and want the sport to be played. Similarly, where there is soccer, people are bound to gather. Society today is now faced with the problem of how to spend an increasing amount of leisure time. That fact has helped to develop soccer into a large service industry that has attracted a growing number of fans over the years.
Obviously, turning soccer into an industry has borne a few problems. But in a capitalistic society the problem of commercializing sports is not only limited to soccer. Some may not feel comfortable with the idea of profiting from sports by selling soccer-related items. Indeed, many people feel that aspect may kill the spirit of the sport. But the solution to the problem depends on the sense of balance of spectators and those involved in the soccer industry, as well as a healthy sense of values.
Simply, for soccer to survive, the sport needs to depend on fans and manufacturers to not over-commercialize the sport. Because of the danger resulting from an immoderate commercialization of soccer, one cannot and should not simply reject the industrialization of soccer.
Last but not least, soccer is about politics. When the Korean national team plays against another country, fans who have been warned of the dangers of extreme nationalism, still cannot help but express great excitement that nears animal instincts when a Korean player takes a clear shot at an opponent's goal.
Those who are sitting in a stadium will surely feel this national unity even more. In Europe and South America, soccer stirs deep nationalistic feelings. In South America, a national-level dispute once broke out because of soccer. In Korea, when the cheering for the Korean team fills a stadium, any fan can strongly feel the sense of belonging to a group.
Such belonging through soccer is not only limited to nationalities but also to smaller communities such as classmates, schools, hometowns and even workplaces. In that sense, soccer is political, for it can bring about a sense of community.
Even after the global festivities of the World Cup end, I hope Koreans remain soccer fans who simply love the game. I hope through soccer that we remain a strongly united community.
The writer is the president of the Institute of Social Sciences.
by Kim Kyung-won