While I was serving an LDS mission in Germany, a man asked me to explain the rules of baseball. I’d been in Germany for over a year and spoke German well, or so I thought. I started by explaining each position starting with the pitcher and catcher and then moving around the infield and finally outfield. This kind man listened intently. He then asked me to describe a few more areas of the game such as walks, strikeouts, pop fly outs, home runs, bunting, and base stealing.
It was getting more difficult to describe some areas of the game and I recall asking for a piece of paper so I could sketch a baseball diamond to help him visualize what I was describing.
I started to wonder if this guy had read the encyclopedia entry (this was well before Wikipedia) for baseball because he also asked me to describe a fielders choice, infield fly rule, ground rule double and a suicide squeeze. I had a very difficult time explaining these nuances of the game in German even though I grew up playing baseball all my life.
I mention this because I thought of this experience I had in Germany as I watched my 6-year old daughter play soccer for the first time today. I’m certain that one reason soccer is so popular is because, at the core, it’s a very simple game. At practice today, the coach gathered the girls around to explain the rules. It was the first time playing for a few of them. The coach said, “The objective of soccer to is keep the ball out of our net while kicking it into the opposing team’s net”.
His description was so simple and so clear that even a 6-year old could understand it. I know there is a lot more to soccer. Although it may be simple to understand it’s extremely challenging to master. One has to be in excellent condition and skilled in many facets of the game. Yet it’s quite easy to begin playing at a young age and the rules are relatively easy to understand.