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Old 03-08-2011, 11:14 PM
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In conclusion, let me start off once again with a quick word of thanks to everyone involved with the inaugural Sports Debaters League. I wasn't sure at first if I was even going to participate, but I am really glad that I did, it was definitely a lot of fun. I hope the fact that so many guys bailed out early does not discourage the powers that be from running a season two at some point. Thanks to KB for running the show, as well as to the anonymous judges, whoever you guys are. Thanks as well to all of the competitors, especially to Big Sexy and LSN80, who lasted until the end with me. Some really good quality debating and from a totally respectful and polite standpoint for the most part. While I hope you guys finish second and third , it certainly will not be overly disappointing to come up short against either of you, if that is the end result, as you both performed very well throughout the last couple of months.

All pleasantries aside, let's wrap the final discussion up. For me, this was a pretty easy decision to select the greatest sport in the world, even though it was a little odd to be arguing in favor of a sport of which I am not a particular fan, and arguing against two sports which I personally prefer. The clear and undisputable choice here has to be soccer, there is absolutely no question about it. As much as my fellow debaters tried to muddy the waters and cloud the issue at hand, the simple fact of the matter is, the question was abundantly clear. What is the greatest sport in the world? The question has two key components, neither of which can be ignored, and both of which must be considered together. If we are going to assess the greatest sport in the world, issues such as global significance and worldwide popularity simply cannot be ignored as they are paramount to the question being posed. This is not a question which asks us which sport do we personally prefer, or which sport do people in our geographical region prefer, or which sport is the most interesting, the most exciting, or the most relevant, in our opinions or the opinions of those living in our corner of the planet. Objectvity is the most important aspect of the question here, as opposed to personal preferences and biases. In order to address any secondary questions which arise, they must be addressed bearing the primary part of the question in mind.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, soccer is the most popular sport on a global basis. It is played by the most people. It has the most fans, and these fans are amongst the most passionate, the most knowledgeable, the most fanatical, and sometimes even the most obsessive and dangerous in the world. Soccer is the only sport which is prominent in all continents across the world. It is extremely popular in every nation in Europe. It is practically a religion in South America. It has a strong following in Asia, Africa, and Australia. Even in North America, where it has to compete with the "big four" of the NHL, NBA, NFL, and MLB (all of which are more popular in Canada and the United States than soccer is), soccer is still extremely popular, and its popularity in this part of the world is definitely on the uprise. As the USA continues to advance and progress in the sport, as the latest World Cup would suggest is happening, the popularity around here will continue to increase. Even without this, though, the sport of soccer has a true multi-national, completely worldwide dominant presence in the world of sports. This cannot be argued, and is very significant to this discussion, as every other thing to be discussed here hinges upon this reality.

Soccer has the World Cup, the truly most globally invasive sporting event in existence. 200+ countries vying for 32 spots, with the eyes of the world upon the action regardless of who competes and who emerges victorious. It also has a strong presence in the Summer Olympic Games, another truly global and comprehensive event. Moving away from amateur athletics, we have the English Football League System, a pyramidal scheme of promotion and relegation, resulting in the very best of the best competing in the English Premier League. Some of the best players in the world, competing for and against the most storied franchises on the planet, with the eyes of the globe upon them, this personifies the English Premier League.

Even on this side of the pond, we have Major League Soccer (MLS), with its growing popularity, with guys like David Beckham jumping on board to further cultivate the sport in this region.

Soccer has a tremendous grass roots presence. College, high school, young kids, of all ages, both genders, all skill levels. Whether it be the best amateurs in the world, the top professionals, or the next door neighbour's kid, soccer has a prominent, diverse, and truly global significance unlike any other sport, to a point that basketball or American football could only dream of achieving.

Soccer players are the most well rounded athletes out there. They bring a unique combination of strength, endurance, cardiovascular capacity, agility, flexibility, stamina, and leaping ability, with a skill level which is sometimes awe inspiring. Both Big Sexy and LSN80 tried in vain to suggest that football or basketball players were better athletes. In doing so, they utilized convoluted and irrelevant arguments such as the ability to play two sports at a high level, but in the end did absolutely nothing to convince me of the superiority of the athletes of the sports they were promoting, as opposed to soccer players. Only soccer players can perform at the highest possible level, as they do, with the athleticism they display, without even the use of their arms and hands. Soccer players are the premier athletes in the world. Just ask sports fans from all around the world and they will tell you in high numbers, soccer players are the best of the best. Just because Big Sexy prefers football and truly believes football players are superior, or just because LSN80 feels the same way about basketball, doesn't make it true.

Soccer players also have far superior mental skills. They play a more cerebral, strategic game. And they do so under situations of psychological and emotional challenges. Whether it be due to the nationalistic expectations of the World Cup or the Olympics, or the rabid enthusiasm of the passionate fans of the professional game, soccer players operate under situations of intense scrutiny and pressure, to a far greater degree than athletes of any other sport. Only in soccer can you go from national hero to despised villain in the course of one game, or one half, or even one play. The fact that soccer players can function as effectively as they do, despite the pressures (and sometimes resultant dangers) they experience, is a true testament to their mental toughness, over and above their physical superiority.

Both of my competitors refer at length to the special moments which define a sport and the importance this plays in determination of the greatest sport in the world. LSN80 speaks of Jordan, Magic and others. Big Sexy talks about Namath, Flutie, and company. Both of these guys speak of the excitement factor instilled by the special moments these guys have brought us. But beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and the excitement factor is relevant to the audience in question. For every LeBron, Kobe, or Bird, there is a Maradona, a Pele, Beckham. For every Music City Miracle, there is a "Hand of God." For every moment of drama for North American sports enthusiasts as above, there is a moment of excitement for a more global audience originating from soccer. I suggested it was a little biased and arrogant to suggest that the North American moments are more significant than the others,and while the use of such words as arrogance ruffled a few feathers (for which I apologize), the basic truth is still there. Just because you like a particular sort better yourself, just becuase you are more familiar with it, excited by it, and knowledgeable about it, does not necessarily mean it automatically is better than something for which you have less passion or knowledge. To deal with this discussion, put the question to the masses. Ask the entire world which athletes are better, which moments are most dramatic and exciting, and I think the consistent global response will be soccer.

In his concluding remarks, Big Sexy says such things as how he has shown this and he has proven that. Simple fact of the matter is, he has shown me nothing or proven nothing to me except for the fact that he likes American football better than soccer. Just because he himself feels they display greater athleticism, or engender more excitement, does not automatically mean it is true. Simple fact of the matter is, soccer clearly exceeds American football in all contexts as shown throughout this thread. All due respect to Big Sexy, but I would rate American football a distant third, at best. Even basketball is a greater sport on a worldwide basis than is football, and basketball as well remains well in the shadows of soccer.

Soccer is by no means my cup of tea. I am by no means a fan of the game myself. Personally I prefer both basketball and football over soccer, but this is irrelevant to the question. This question must be looked at objectively through the eyes of the entire world, rather than through the subjective and biased eyes of one corner of the world. When looking at the global popularity of the game, the magnitude of the games which occur across the globe in front of a worldwide audience, the physical, mental, and psychological acumen and toughness of the players, and the plethora of significant and emotional moments which define the rich history, the legacy, the aura of the game, there can really only be one conclusion which can be drawn. Soccer is the greatest sport in the world. Frankly, it isn't even close.
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