Having grown up in a small New Jersey town, Chatham, in which soccer was the most important sport, I developed a love for the game, as did our three sons, who also played.
I played four years at Rutgers. In our last two years, we were fortunate enough to play in the then-fledgling NCAA tourney, a wonderful experience.
After college, while teaching at a high school, I coached varsity soccer for seven years, not too successfully. Many of my players had never seen a soccer ball until they got to high school.
Eventually, I became a youth and college referee. In all, I refereed something under 2,000 games before a stretched achilles tendon ended my run in 2005.
In summary, I love soccer and have a long background in it.
Each time the World Cup rolls around, I hope I will not again be disappointed in some of the ways in which the so-called "Beautiful Game" is not so beautiful.
There was a great deal of drama this time, and a number of surprises and great stories, but there was again the usual nonsense.
It never ceases to amaze me how the greatest players in the world can commit so many stupid, needless fouls. There are far too many vicious tackles; it is a wonder that there were not more serious leg injuries.
The tackles are not for the ball; they are for the legs. Scissoring the legs, which occurred too frequently, should merit an ejection. If the referees were tougher, these nasty plays would be far fewer.
However, I also wonder if the referees have been instructed not to give too many cards, which would eliminate more players from future matches.
Soccer players are the biggest divers, actors and embellishers of any sport.
In ice hockey, a penalty can be given to a player who embellishes when fouled.
In soccer, there is a law about "ungentlemanly conduct."
If you embellish, you are not playing the game; you are playing the referee.
If a few more yellow cards were issued for embellishment, that problem would probably cease.
I also love it when a player commits an obvious, even nasty foul, and then gesticulates and gives it the old "What did I do?" gesture.
There also are certain teams and individuals, too many, who are whiners and moaners, looking and begging for calls they don't deserve.
That's one reason I was happy to see the Brazilians annihilated by the Germans.
In many respects, this was one of the best World Cups, but it could have been even better.
Out of Bounds Drive
After watching the World Cup I just want to say that I salute soccer and all soccer fans.
What an amazing and fantastic sport!
It puts basketball (run and jump) and football (block, run and throw) to shame.
Soccer athletes are so talented over such a wide range of physical abilities.
JONATHAN E. WALKER
Coral Reef Drive