With the 2014 World Cup less than two weeks away, I thought I’d pay a little tribute to the sport they call “the beautiful game.” Soccer might be a beautiful game to different people for different reasons. I find soccer to be beautiful for one basic reason. It’s simple. It doesn’t require endless amounts of gear, equipment, or rules. It just requires people, a ball, and a few simple “do’s and don’ts.” It’s amazing how such a simple game can unite so many people, create healthy rivalries, and cross so many physical and social boundaries. It is a game played and loved all over the world, by the rich and poor.
Just like soccer is simple, so is hiking. Yes, hiking is not immune to mass consumerism and endless amount of gear options. However, hiking does not require any fancy gear. It just requires a person and a trail, and hopefully for your feet’s sake, a pair of shoes. Despite all the technical gear available, you can carry out a hike with the things you’d have around anyway, rich or poor. It doesn’t require a boat, any ropes, helmets, special shoes, tools, motors, boards, kites, paddles, etc. The “do’s and don’t” of hiking are few, and mostly common sense, involving avoiding obvious obstacles to ensure safety. The one place where hiking falls short of soccer is its ability to cross demographic boundaries. Most of the world’s population lives in cities. Most of the trails exist outside of cities. Do you see the dilemma? For poorer urban populations, who would probably equally love an escape into the wilderness, the transportation situation is quite the obstacle. Without personal transportation, hiking is hard to do. Soccer, on the other hand, can be played in the street, anywhere.
For the duration of a hike, or a soccer match, life becomes simple. There are straightforward objectives, and minimal amounts of extraneous influences or distractions. For a short time, we get to focus on what’s truly beautiful. There is beauty in simplicity, and that’s why hiking, like soccer, is a beautiful game.
Be sure to go on a few hikes in between all those world cup matches this summer!