Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Soccer's Greatest Goal

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Soccer's Greatest Goal

Article excerpt

"What if there were no sports?" Michael Jordan asks us to imagine the unimaginable against a backdrop of flashing black and white images on a television advertisement. Click. A tiny boy tosses a basketball toward a crate nailed to a telephone pole. Click. Jordan's full-toothed grin. Click. Ghetto children dressed in dungaree-tough jackets swarm an urban playground. Click. A somber-faced Jordan queries: "If there were no sports, would I still be your hero?"

A world without sports? Never. At its best, sports teaches us the social and personal skills so necessary to succeed in life. Consonance. Cooperation. Dedication. Perseverance. Sports grants us a playing field on which to develop our most godlike qualities. We marvel at the grace in the games, and through sports pursue and exalt human excellence. Delighted by the form, we forget the scoreboard. For spectator and participant alike, the joy of sport spills into our lives.

Yet, an ugly "shadow" side of athletics increasingly rears its unruly head. Idolatry, obsession with winning, uncontrolled aggression, and the commercialization of the game reflect the poverty and misery of modern culture.

The celebration surrounding the World Cup reminds us, as do other international athletic events of such magnitude, that sports is bigger than life. The championship of the world's most popular game will highlight the brilliance of sport as it simultaneously unmasks its greatest failings.

"Sports can teach us a spirit not only of cooperation, but also of self-sacrifice, where we subordinate our individual interests for a greater good, for the good of the entire team," says author Dan Millman whose newest book, The Inner Athlete: Realizing Your Fullest Potential, examines the capacity for sport to improve the quality of our lives and the world we live in. "Sports is built on structure, rules, and tradition and it seems ironic--but true--that people from vastly different backgrounds and perspectives can come together on the playing field."

Few cities in the world test this premise like the multi-cultural mecca of Miami, a city rocked by ethnic and racial turbulence on three occasions in the past decade.

Yet a black-and-white ball bounding along a grassy field just blocks from the shimmering Atlantic may just make a convincing guru of Millman.

The International Soccer League is accomplishing in Miami what new housing and investment in Wynwood and Overtown--neighborhoods hardest hit by unrest--could not. Founded and organized by Willy Mayuncaldi, a professional soccer player in his native Uruguay before he settled in Miami, the league draws together different peoples speaking different languages and holding different beliefs in the same place at the same time for the same purpose: love of sport. …

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