I am not a big soccer fan — yet.

I admit, I've been a member of that group (which soccer fans hate) that feels the game is too low on scoring, doesn't require enough strategy or skill, and has rules that are confusing. Basically, I've just always felt that soccer was too slow for my spectator taste.

Also, I'm one who hates the fact that a soccer game can end in a tie. When I watch a sporting event, I want to see one team feel the thrill of victory and the other experience the agony of defeat. My motto has always been, no matter how long it takes, play until there's a winner and a loser.

It's not easy for a sportswriter to admit his lack of passion for a sport, especially one that he's partly responsible to cover. Ever since I've been covering prep sports, and assigning writers to cover high school games, I've seldom assigned myself to soccer. Truthfully, in the past I've only covered soccer when there was no one else to do it. I've avoided soccer like I avoid a night at the opera.

So, now that you soccer folks officially hate me, think I'm a shallow sports guy, and want to send my boss mass e-mails telling him to reassign me to paper-delivery duty, don't pull out the noose just yet. I confess, I never really gave soccer a chance. But my progress this season is worthy of forgiveness. Trust me, I'm on a fast road to soccer-fan conversion.

All of this has come about because I've decided this season to throw myself more into soccer. I'm trying to educate myself on the ins and outs of the most universal game in the world. I am no longer looking for excuses not to cover soccer. In fact, I'm a little disappointed that I am not needed to cover a game this week — honest.

In just the two Region 4 games that I've covered in the past two weeks, I'm really beginning to appreciate the sport and the athletes a lot more. I now see that I've been no different than those who think golf is boring because "who wants to watch someone hit a ball and chase it." Just like golf is a whole lot more than that, I am now seeing that soccer is a whole lot more than watching a bunch of girls or boys "kick a soccer ball around and chase it."

I confess, watching the footwork of Lehi's Kyleigh Royall was invigorating. I've been impressed with the skill it takes for a back line to take the heat off of a goalie. I now see the role of the midfielders who set up a goal. I really am acquiring a taste for the game.

However, there's still one thing that could cause me a major setback. I really can't predict how I'll handle covering a game that ends in a tie. It might cause a major spiral downward. I've come too far to fall off the soccer wagon now. So, you soccer players who want to keep me a soccer fan, if you see me at one of your games, please score at least one more goal than the other team — just for me, and for my growing love of the game.


E-mail: jimr@desnews.com