Soccer: a true love story

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

3.5 billion people —that’s how many people worldwide follow and support soccer.

This staggering figure should come as no surprise owing to the spike that viewership for soccer matches has seen over the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

The social media influence of soccer stars during the pandemic has seen players experience an 82% increase in viewership of their content and the Major League Soccer (MLS) alone has seen a ramped-up viewership of nearly 50% in the new season.

This new viewership coupled with the fact that the returning fans with immense club loyalty handed down generations of families has caused the soccer world to explode.

It’s soon turning into an integral cultural facet of the fashion world owing to the fact that soccer players have turned into celebrities with brand deals.

Premier luxury brands all around the world such as Air Jordan have transcended sports and collaborated with teams such as Paris Saint Germain (PSG) in the French league, in the fashion capital of the world and this has attracted much media frenzy.

More vital to any of this though, soccer is an emotion felt in the hearts of billions around the world, reuniting them.

It doesn’t see color, race, or ethnicity, all it sees is the love for the beautiful game.

I too felt her loving arms embrace me recently when I witnessed my first professional soccer match.

It was an electrifying atmosphere, with tens of thousands of fans screaming and spurring their home team on.

The Mercedes Benz stadium was alight once again backing their favorite Atlanta United team on.

I was lucky enough to attend my inaugural MLS home game between Atlanta United FC and Inter Miami.

This was coincidentally also the game where the city hero and star striker Josef Martínez was on track to score his 100th league goal. The roar that greeted the away fans when a penalty was awarded to Atlanta United in the 78th minute was deafening.

What was even louder, an almost earthquake tremor-like, guttural scream was heard when Martínez stepped up and slotted the penalty home immaculately in the bottom right corner.

It was at that moment I knew that this city loved something more than its peach cobbler; soccer.

The interest and passion the city has for the sport should surely foster something bigger at Tech.

Imagine my surprise and pain when I found out after coming to Tech that we don’t have an accredited National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I team.

For a university that breathes into the history of Atlanta itself, it’s a great pity that the university has no official soccer team as it would have been a testament to the city.

If Tech were to enlist a team, the southern part of the United States has relatively fewer soccer teams as compared to the north and thus would be at an advantage.

Further, Tech would also be part of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) which is a prestigious league to be part of and it can set the foundations for what will surely be a strong soccer program here at Tech.

While there is the case of the argument of Title IX of the NCAA which states there should be an equal number of men’s and women’s team to allocate funding to if there are to be sanctioned by the NCAA.

However, I feel this is a problem that can reach resolve by creating a women’s soccer team concurrently with the men.

This will ensure that the sport that everyone loves and adores can be expanded and the gain in popularity that will follow will surely boost its progress.

All in all, Tech is a school blessed with its sprawling campus which contains has the Roe Stamps field.

This facility is a soccer pitch up to the regulation standards and thus can be used to host home matches for the Jackets.

By making use of the resources here at Tech along with the enthusiasm of the students, we can finally further the pursuit of soccer to be an NCAA sanctioned team and unite Jackets from all over the world to compete and excel for their beloved sport.