Rule No. 1 at the Manion dinner table of my childhood was that you were not allowed to dislike a food until you had at least tried it.
And that’s a fairly good rule to live by in a lot of areas of life.
Even when it comes to a fan’s consumption of sports.
When my initial feeling is not to like a sport, I have tried to take a closer look to see if that opinion might change.
My latest attempt is soccer. What about previous attempts? Well, I can’t say those turned out all that well.
NASCAR—At the outset, I kind of figured if you were not a gear-head, someone who understood the inner workings of race cars, then you probably wouldn’t get much out of the race itself.
And, in the end, said feeling was proven correct, at least for me.
Set ups are a big deal in NASCAR. And the work in the pit is a big deal.
If you don’t understand those, it’s just a lot of left turns and not much intrigue until the final laps of the race.
Rodeo—This is a sport for which I have always enjoyed shooting pictures.
Bull riding, tie down roping, barrel racing, team roping and more.
The pictures are just fantastic. You just have to have the right light or the right equipment to operate in low light situations, and you are set.
But what about being a fan of the sport?
That comes down to an understanding of the scoring system and also the exposure to the top competitors, the cowboys and cowgirls who are out there performing.
I don’t get the scoring aspect, and, if you don’t know who the people are, or at least have some back story, then you don’t really get as much out of it.
UFC—Mixed martial arts are a pretty big deal and we have had some very good competitors who have come out of Nebraska City, with folks like Anthony Smith and Darrick Minner.
If those two are fighting, or others from around here, I am interested.
But one thing I can’t quite get over is the brutality of the sport.
At times, it’s just pretty scary to watch.
One of the latest promotions of the UFC featured a knock out that’s one of the fastest on the books in the sport, and when the guy went down, you were thinking, “Wow, is he going to be OK?”
I watched Holly Holm put Ronda Rousey into the hospital with a brutal kick to the face. I was team Ronda and was more concerned for her well being after the fight than I was that she had lost the belt.
In addition to knock outs, the UFC is a bloody sport and a brutal one with folks getting drilled for full on punches to the head when they are lying prone on the mat, unable to protect themselves.
That brings us to the latest attempt at finding a new sport—soccer.
The United States Womens National Team made the country proud regardless of whether you are a soccer fan or not. It is always nice to see our country represented through championship excellence.
I didn’t watch the FIFA Women’s World Cup, but  it did spark me to look into the sport and find out a little more.
As a sports guy, I have covered Nebraska City High School soccer and that has been my only real exposure to soccer. That, and, I guess, visiting with the British players who came over for Challenger Soccer camps of past years, which educated our youths on some of the traditions as well as some of the techniques of the sport they love.
So far, I have gotten an idea for the administrative structure of leagues with national team soccer that ends up in the World Cup every four years.
And then there is professional soccer, for which most countries have their own pro leagues.
I got an idea of the pro league schedule and that the playoff or championship tournament is structured a bit different than what I would be used to with the NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA.
And the idea of the top teams facing off in a crossover tournament with leagues against other leagues is intriguing.
Relegation is also kind of wild. That’s the phenomenon where teams from the pro leagues are sent down to the level of competition beneath them and top teams from that lower level are elevated or promoted to take their place.
YouTube has been helpful in figuring some of this stuff out—when isn’t YouTube helpful, really?
I haven’t watched much soccer. I tried to watch our brand of professional soccer, MLS, which is different and on a lower level, from what I can gather, than European football.
I am struggling with it a bit, but not giving up. The offside rule frustrates me and I must say that, even with viewing MLS instead of say, English Premier League, the accent of the play-by-play is hard to understand at times.
All that said, I have tapped the Premier League on the sports app  of my smart phone and am aware that the season begins on Aug. 9.
Obviously I would be a fan of team U.S.A. but I don’t have any loyalty in the pros as of yet.
Suggestions on all of this soccer stuff is always welcome. Please feel free to engage me in conversation about this on Facebook, by email or just out and about at Walmart or the paper or where ever else you might see me.
In an aside, I was at the Otoe County Fair Parade on Saturday afternoon and saw someone with a MLS Sporting Kansas City shirt, so that must mean I am not the only one around here who’s thinking about this soccer deal.
Wish me luck. After all, more sports to follow is always better than less.