By Arturo Rivers
This week's topic: The Creative Player an Endangered Species
The world over the rule is: the bigger the soccer industry the more demanding the business and the fans get. There is nothing else out there but winning. Winning is all. You win you get a bonus. You win and your job will be secured. You win and regardless of the style of soccer you will be cheered and celebrated for what you are: a winner.
But what has happened to the soul of the game? What has happened to the very basics of soccer? I’m talking about the single thing that makes soccer the most popular sport in the world the fact that anyone and everyone can get a ball and kick it around on a street in a park in your living room and be part of the beautiful game without restrictions at any time!
It’s so simple but then again it's not.
The freedom that is essential to the simplicity of the game the freedom that lets anyone take the ball and start an un-choreographed dance towards goal is slowly disappearing from soccer the world over.
Ingrained team systems combined with a constant need to win have pushed coaches and clubs to continuously try to squash the freedom and creativity within the game just like a Rocky Mountain smokejumper squleches wildfires in the blazing Colorado summers. Put it out! Put it out!
It has gotten to the point that even the fans have forgotten about what the true spirit of soccer means. They no longer reminisce about the essence of the art of the sport and forget that it is up to them to demand the highest level of entertainment and true soccer spirit from their hometown club and players.
If you had the opportunity to watch the Spanish "Classico" between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid this last Saturday afternoon you will know what I’m referring to. On a field that had the world's greatest stars players that most teams around the world would only dream of having on their rosters one man stood head and shoulders above all of them.
Surrounded by players such as Puyol Oleguer Deco Larsson Eto'o Salgado Roberto Carlos Beckham Owen Zidane Guti Figo Raúl and Ronaldo who are worshipped on five continents for their incredible soccer skills the name Ronaldo de Assis Moreira stood out.
Better known to the world as Ronaldinho the 24-year old Brazilian was the only one on Saturday afternoon at Nou Camp Spain who was having fun playing with the ball just as he did when he was five years old and there was no system that day that would restrain him. Players on both sides of the pitch that day were mezmerized by his individual displays of skill that left defenders backpedalling and jaws gaping.
The ever-smiling striker was the only one of the Galacticos on that field who defied the system by playing for the joy of playing and was audacious enough to take the ball and dare to create unconventional and daring shapes and forms on a canvas that just so happened to also be surrounded by 97905 manic fans.
This type of players is in danger of extinction. The breed of magician who's not afraid to gamble with the ball against his opponent taking him on one-on-one betting only on his skill and creativity to risk everything for glory.
To play within a system is mandatory but to kill creativity on behalf of the system is a mistake. Like anything else in life a well-balanced relationship between the worlds of "the system" and "the arts" will result in truly being victorious.
At the end of the day it's about achieving the same goal that the systems demands without sacrificing the creativity of the players who live within that system. And it's not only the team that will win but the real winners in the long run are the fans and the sport itself by having the soul of the game come back to its roots......right there on the pitch for the whole world to witness.
And talking about on the field artists The Dark Side wishes Landon Donovan the best of luck in Germany since the announcement of his departure will be made public today!
Arturo Rivers' The Dark Side column runs weekly only on ColoradoRapids.com. Views and opinions expressed in this column are the author's and not necessarily those of the Colorado Rapids or ColoradoRapids.com. Send any questions and comments to Arturo Rivers at firstname.lastname@example.org.