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Do soccer players show enhanced thinking abilities?
April 4th, 2012
05:02 PM ET

Do soccer players show enhanced thinking abilities?

Hey soccer fans, here's something to think about at the next game: The best players may be quicker thinkers than you.

A study led by Swedish researchers suggests that elite soccer players outperform players in lower divisions in tests of certain cognitive abilities, and both groups bested the general public. The results were published recently in the journal PLoS ONE.

Specifically, the study focused on executive function, which is involved in working memory. Whenever you bring forth a memory that you need to solve a task, such as make a phone call or tie your shoe, that's working memory in action. Executive function is also involved in creativity, multi-tasking and inhibition.

"The successful player must constantly assess the situation, compare it to past experiences, create new possibilities, make quick decisions to action, but also quickly inhibit planned decisions," the authors write.

The phenomenon has not been studied in detail before with regard to professional athletes. But previous research showed expert sports players have enhanced abilities in things like evaluating probabilities, recognizing patterns and using information from peripheral vision.

Participants in the Swedish study included 57 males and 26 females, all soccer players from the country's top three national division soccer leagues. The players took cognitive function tests, which had well-established average scores for the general population in the fall of 2007.

Information about the players' goals and assists was obtained from January 2008 to May 2010. The Swedish researchers then looked back at the players' test scores to see if cognitive function could help predict later performance.

It turned out that higher performance on the cognitive test was correlated with the subsequent performance of the players, based on a subsample of the original group.

The theory is that playing soccer may have improved the players' executive function. But they wouldn't have been able to get to such a high level of professionalism if they hadn't already been good at these mental tasks, said study co-author Predrag Petrovic of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

Should soccer players be recruited on the basis of cognitive tests like these?

The study points in that direction, but the number of participants is small, and the conclusions do not prove causality. It's a question for further research whether playing soccer causes better cognitive processing, or if cognitive processing leads to better soccer performance. This study also does not say anything about the genetic component of mental or athletic performance.

Bradley Hatfield, professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, who has researched the link between executive function and exercise independently of Petrovic's group, says the study is based on a reasonable conceptual model. It doesn't make definitive statements about the role of these brain processes in soccer success, but its suggestions are plausible based on research that has come before it, Hatfield said in an e-mail.

"I think it's relevant to the public interest, and the quality of the work is supported by its appearance in a peer-reviewed journal," he said.

But Mark Williams, professor of motor behavior at Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom, is more skeptical. He points out that since cognitive abilities have been previously shown to be correlated with aerobic capacity, it's possible that the most elite athletes performed better on tests because they are more physically fit.

On the whole, more research must be done before definitive conclusions can be made.


soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. SoccerBites

    Enhanced thinking abilities like :
    What skirt to wear for a date.
    Soccer was invented by European Women so that they would have something to do while the husbnad was doing the dishes.

    April 4, 2012 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Guest

      *husband. Case in point.

      April 4, 2012 at 18:55 | Report abuse |
    • MP

      and you still suck at women's sports

      April 4, 2012 at 19:30 | Report abuse |
    • LOL

      That would explain why women play soccer better than men in the US.

      April 4, 2012 at 19:37 | Report abuse |
    • Gaucho420

      Soccer haters are like climate change deniers. The whole world accepts it, except for some rednecks in the US who have never left their country, county or city.

      Long live rednecks! Providing joys of entertainment for the educated, one dumb comment at a time.

      April 4, 2012 at 21:13 | Report abuse |
    • Ari

      Gaucho, thanks for the laugh. It's so true.

      April 4, 2012 at 21:24 | Report abuse |
    • It's FOOTBALL not Soccer!

      @Gaucho420: LOL...you nailed it!!!! Ever wondered why American Football players wear pads? Because they are a bunch of Nancies on the rag.

      April 4, 2012 at 21:31 | Report abuse |
    • athens

      GAUCHO420 – ¿Y te crees inteligente porque te gusta el futbol o porque crees lo mismo de los que te rodean? ¿O seris porque crees que los que se burlan del futbol son rednecks? ¿Cual seria tu criterio para la inteligencia? porque no la has demonstrado con este comentario.

      April 4, 2012 at 21:43 | Report abuse |
    • Cotton Hill

      You have a FAT NECK boy!!!!

      April 4, 2012 at 21:47 | Report abuse |
    • The King speaks

      Ah, the soccer morons show their jealousy of the USA once again.

      Yellow card.

      April 5, 2012 at 07:35 | Report abuse |
    • Grow a pair

      Soccer is boring as can be... everyone with at least half a brain knows that. If the US shows up on the pitch at all it's only a polite attempt to placate our flunky allies.

      Lets talk rugby, or hurling. Now there's some sports for you.

      April 5, 2012 at 07:36 | Report abuse |
    • Spirit

      Soccer's definitely not fun to watch, but it's always fun to play. Just like every other sport.

      April 5, 2012 at 14:56 | Report abuse |
    • odk1

      stop talking please" you just wasted my time with your idoitic statement.

      April 6, 2012 at 12:54 | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      I'm a huge US fan of the Premier League AND I can see that global warming is a hoax – so you're example is bad, at best Gaucho.

      April 7, 2012 at 15:21 | Report abuse |
    • MIke

      Soccer will never be popular in the United States until they change the rules to make scoring easier . Make the goals wider and taller. Think how many times you see a goal hit the post. Change offsides so that its only in the penalty area. You starting having scores like baseball popularity will increase . Americans just aren't going to watch a lot of games where the score is like 1-0.

      April 8, 2012 at 20:36 | Report abuse |
  2. SoccerBitesYou

    Hey SoccerBites, I've got $100 that says I can whoop your butt with one arm tied behind my back.

    See you on the pitch you dumb a$$

    April 4, 2012 at 18:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • athens

      HAHA – I love how worked up everyone gets about soccerbites' joke. I think it says more about the angry people than it does soccerbites. (Or does it say something about rabid soccer fans in general?)

      April 4, 2012 at 21:18 | Report abuse |
  3. Not an uncultured American

    SoccerBites,

    4+ billion people would disagree with your historical analysis of the game. Stick to PBR and Wrestlemania, it's more your genre.

    April 4, 2012 at 18:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • javier

      correct! No more no less.

      April 4, 2012 at 19:00 | Report abuse |
    • yeah yeah

      "Not an uncultured American

      SoccerBites,

      4+ billion people would disagree with your historical analysis of the game. Stick to PBR and Wrestlemania, it's more your genre."

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
      AWSOME response

      April 4, 2012 at 19:21 | Report abuse |
    • Futbol Czarina

      Love it! American sports are designed for the spectator and commercial profits, whereas futbol (aka soccer) is for the quick-thinking, agile, adept, athletically skilled player. Grew up with American football, but am grateful to have found a superior sport in soccer!
      The average midfielder runs 5 miles in a game. A 100 yd run is a walk in the park for these players. I'd put my money on a soccer player's athleticism over a football or baseball player's anytime.

      April 4, 2012 at 20:36 | Report abuse |
    • athens

      this is amazing. Why are soccer fans here so sensitive and seemingly insecure?

      April 4, 2012 at 21:22 | Report abuse |
    • sportsman

      I respect all sports.

      April 5, 2012 at 15:47 | Report abuse |
  4. Leo

    SoccerBites: You are correct, it ain't nothing like having a bunch of slightly overweight tobacco-chewing rednecks standing around on a diamond for three hours. Now THAT is what I call a real sport!

    April 4, 2012 at 19:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 21k

      only better "sport" is those same redneck land-whales drinking $8 cans of beer for 4 hours while watching cars zoom around a track. whoo-wee! git 'er done! (spit, thru missing front teeth!)

      April 4, 2012 at 20:55 | Report abuse |
  5. kcjazzy

    Well. dah.. have you ever played soccer? It is hard and fast pace... you have to on top of your game at all times not like.. baseball which is little more than.watching grass grow

    April 4, 2012 at 19:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KAS

      I have played both and I can tell you, there is no comparison. Soccer is much more intense, much more athletic and much more demanding of what you have to do at any moment in time.

      In baseball, you sit around 90% of the time. There's a reason Homer remarked, "I never knew how boring this game really was." when he stopped drinking for a time.

      Soccer is one of those sports that to be even moderately good at, you have to be able to think on your feet and make (literal) split second decisions. This has held me in good stead in my work life as I am constantly juggling competing priorities yet still get things done on time and under budget despite the best efforts of management to thwart my efforts.

      Granted, this isn't something employers are looking for, but just adding to the data points of this study.

      April 5, 2012 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
  6. JV

    Those of us who've played the sport have known this all along

    April 4, 2012 at 19:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jt_flyer

    I don't know if they have enhanced thinking ability but, in a few million years, soccer players will have tiny, tyrannosaurus arms.

    April 4, 2012 at 19:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leo

      OK – I have to admit that this comment is pretty darn funny!

      April 4, 2012 at 19:21 | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      Oh my I got a good hard chuckle at this one. Well done.

      April 4, 2012 at 20:47 | Report abuse |
    • zeb

      and in a few million years, the rednecks will have massive arms and legs, and a tiny brain

      April 5, 2012 at 06:35 | Report abuse |
  8. AliP

    They may have t-rex arms, but they will be there, right? Survival of the fittest........:)

    April 4, 2012 at 19:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Maradona

    Soccer players unlike american football players constantly think and adapt to the changing game situation. American football players on the other hand are dumb, hence the game is stopped every 30 seconds so that the coach can tell then what to do in the next 30 seconds. Quarterback carry a cheat sheet and cant really think for themselves.

    April 4, 2012 at 19:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joink

      There is no "situation". It's run, kick, run some more, kick, kick, get the ball stolen, chase someone, chase them some more. American football is like chess and soccer is like a cat having kittens.

      April 4, 2012 at 19:48 | Report abuse |
    • BobbyZ

      You're right, memorizing a 500 page playbook doesn't tap into memory whatsoever, nor does the decision making and reaction time required by American football athletes. Having to control both hands and feet on every play is probably really easy, not to mention having to adapt to changing defenses and audibles. It is sheer strength and power with no thought process that takes place during an American football game. I am guessing you and Joink have never played any type of organized sport and you don't realize how much of the game is actually mental.

      April 4, 2012 at 20:28 | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      I won't go that far. But American football player is typically only looking at one opponent and maybe two. I block this guy, then try to block the linebacker, etc, unless you're a QB. Soccer player is looking at 6 or 7 players at a time in his vicinity. 4 offense, 3 defense, calculating momentum, angles. It's truly more mental than American Football.

      April 4, 2012 at 20:50 | Report abuse |
    • BobbyZ

      Why wouldn't you go that far? Do you have personal experience to base that on? I played both sports at the collegiate level and I would say they test your cognitive abilities in different ways. Of course soccer is tough and there is a lot of calculations you must make while dribbling, passing, shooting, etc. but the same can be said with football players. Offensive and defensive linemen in the NFL are required to understand so many different blocking schemes to match up against any type of defense that is they are presented with. This means they would have to understand the scheme for a 3-4, 4-3, 5-2, 4-6, 3-3-5, etc. It isn't as easy as you describe. This holds true for all positions on the field. Each player must have a specific set of cognitive abilities tailored to their specific position. Lumping soccer players into a large category is silly. I do agree that it is required in soccer, but you can't say they require more or less. I was simply explaining that American football is not easy!

      April 4, 2012 at 21:05 | Report abuse |
    • athens

      It would be interesting to see this same study done in the U.S. with top players in a variety of sports.

      April 4, 2012 at 21:30 | Report abuse |
  10. LouAZ

    One of the major traits that separates man from all the other animals is his ability to use his hands.
    Soccer is evolutionarily BACKWARDS !

    April 4, 2012 at 19:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • The Keeper

      I play keeper, your argument is invalid.

      April 4, 2012 at 21:06 | Report abuse |
    • eddantes

      You obviously never played the sport of “soccer”. The arms in soccer are used also for balance, pushing and grabbing the opponent. You just don’t have a clue about the sport, not at all.

      April 6, 2012 at 12:35 | Report abuse |
  11. Joink

    I imagine they are thinking about why they are running around chasing a ball without being able to use their arms or hands. And even more, why people are watching them do it. LOL, there has to be some spin to this story.

    April 4, 2012 at 19:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. latna

    Soccer = Yawn!!!

    April 4, 2012 at 20:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. cliffpiston

    I have been a high school socccer coach for the past 8 years. Soccer season runs concurrent with football season, and I get the weekly eligibility lists for all sports during the season. The soccer team almost never has anyone on the list of academically ineligible players, while football has multiple players on the list EVERY week. I can think of maybe one time when I had a player miss a game for academic ineligibility in 8 years.

    April 4, 2012 at 20:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BobbyZ

      Cognitive function is not the same as test scoring abilities. It deals with the underlying processes that we take for granted everyday.

      April 4, 2012 at 20:40 | Report abuse |
    • Ari

      I work in college athletics (and was a soccer player in college, myself) and we have the same thing. I've been with my current program almost 5 years and we've only ever had 1 soccer player become academically ineligible but practically the entire hockey team gets benched at some point in the season for grades. Same with football and basketball.

      April 4, 2012 at 21:31 | Report abuse |
    • zeb

      @Ari: I suspect that this is true more because there is so much more money in college football and basketball, and so college coaches in those sports could care less about academics when they shower scholarships on those young men. Soccer does have scholarships but not nearly to that degree. Think about how much football and basketball tickets cost, and compare that to the cost of tickets to soccer games.

      April 5, 2012 at 06:40 | Report abuse |
    • john smiith

      This just shows that the real athletes play football and the nerds play soccer

      April 5, 2012 at 10:09 | Report abuse |
  14. BobbyZ

    Executive function tasks are only a part of cognition as a whole and it is a bold statement to say that soccer improves cognitive function. I would assume it is the aerobic exercise related to the sport, which has been established for well over 30 years, that is "improving" cognitive function. If you read the actual article you can tell the authors are stretching to turn this paper into something it is not. Just because a paper gets published in a journal that is peer-reviewed doesn't mean it belongs there. It's not always what you, but who know.I think you can tell the true merit of this study as viewed by other researchers according to the comments at the bottom of the paper.

    April 4, 2012 at 20:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Greg

      That's no doubt a part of it, but team sports like soccer do test cognitive abilities like situational awareness and quick decision making. The best players are good at that and improve more over time. Different sports test different skills. A sport like tennis requires total focus on only the ball and the other player, so situational awareness will be less, but intense focus will be greater. Shouldn't take a study to prove what ever athlete or coach already knows.

      April 5, 2012 at 09:31 | Report abuse |
  15. Wazzup

    Of course they do. They have to think and play on the fly (very much like hockey) where football players go by fixed plays. I mean it got some dumb that someone else, from the bench need to call the play and the rest of the team goes with just like a heard.

    April 4, 2012 at 20:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BobbyZ

      "I mean it got some dumb that someone else, from the bench need to call the play and the rest of the team goes with just like a heard."

      I think you need to have your executive functioning processes tested. I hope you know that during a football play it is not set in stone. After the ball is snapped there are literally hundreds of variables that change the play and throw off timing. Plus, it is not like the play stops after they finish running their routes. It requires precise decision making skills and memory to decide what to do next based on past experiences.

      April 4, 2012 at 20:33 | Report abuse |
  16. Wilmer Henao

    That for sure depends on the position of the player. I would expect a "10" player to be the smartest of the bunch. this is because a 10 is a player that has to quickly make decisions. His physical performance is important, but being mentally connected is the key. I would expect something similar of other midfielders and the goallie.

    I don't think this is so important for defenders, since they need to charge and recover the ball. Not so much thinking there.

    April 4, 2012 at 20:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ThinkSomeMore

      First of all, im not sure who decided soccer players don't use their arms, as arms are required to maintain balance and enhance speed while running, in addition to being used to fight for the ball and dominate close quarters posession. Also i beg to differ that defenders aren't as "mentally connected" as a playmaker. a defender is constantly required to assess situations, and make sure all attacking players are marked at all times while simultaneously judge speed, trajectory, and typically fakes by attacking players. whereas a playmaker does his job and his job alone, waiting for other players to make runs so he can play to them, albeit with much finess and skill. Add that to the fact that many formations have outside backs running down line for counterattacks and supporting play would assert they potentially show more cognitave ability.

      April 4, 2012 at 22:07 | Report abuse |
  17. WEB

    Here's how NFL football players stack up in intelligence with each other and other professions: http://www.assessmentpsychology.com/nfl.htm

    Offensive tackles and centers score higher than QBs!

    April 4, 2012 at 20:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Serie A

    Barcelona are a bunch of divers.

    April 4, 2012 at 21:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • odk1

      better fit than you are,chobby

      April 6, 2012 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
  19. babbycry

    Hey, the most important reasons Americans hate soccer is they ar actually watching Americans play soccer? The best soccer teams in this planet are all in Europe. For those who say soccer is just gettin the ball and chasing the ball, well, u ar right but only in US. You have to know the worst team in Spainish League can kick the best team in NSL butt. watch Barcelona and Real Madrid play, it is the combination of both intelligence and tremendous physical ability. Who ar the good players in US? Beckham? Donovan? It is a joke lol.................

    April 4, 2012 at 21:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ThinkSomeMore

      ummmm ... Beckham isn't American. The NSL doesn't exist, and if Europe is so much better, then why didn't America lose to either of the European teams they faced in the world cup 2010? while i agree the beautiful game is played on a much higher level in Europe, and is much more entertaining to watch, Americans are catching on to the game, and will be able to compete on a global level inside of 10 or 15 years.

      April 4, 2012 at 22:14 | Report abuse |
    • What really counts

      Back and forth... forth and back... zzzzz.

      Let's do some in-and-out, ladies.

      April 5, 2012 at 07:42 | Report abuse |
  20. babbycry

    If US teams keep playing the way they are playing, i would doubt if they can reach the European level within 50 years. sad but true....

    April 5, 2012 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Meet a player

      "... both groups bested the general public."

      You were in the "public" test group, right?

      April 5, 2012 at 07:43 | Report abuse |
    • odk1

      why waste their time, will beat by Ghana in the coming world cup as always (2x)

      April 6, 2012 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
  21. The_Mick

    Before retiring, I taught gifted and talented Chemistry and Physics at Maryland's largest high school and typically I taught the current starting quarterback of the Football team, the ace pitcher on the Baseball team, and many of our student athletes in Soccer, Wrestling, Basketball, Softball, Track, etc. who were selected for the All-County and All-State teams. I was also a varsity head coach and it was always clear to me that my best performing athletes tended to be my best students. Two qualities helped them: 1) the personal trait of a strong work ethic is generally required to succeed at the high level in both sports and academia and 2) a healthy body tends to produce a healthy mind.

    April 5, 2012 at 03:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Proof of the pudding

    "... both groups bested the general public."

    Using a European test group of course.

    April 5, 2012 at 07:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. B'ran

    My apples are way better than your oranges!

    April 5, 2012 at 07:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. erich2112x

    Of course they think faster than me–I'm usually at the back of the bleachers reading the paper, yawning a lot and looking at my watch.

    April 5, 2012 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. bw

    Did any one actually read the article? This was comparing soccer players to the general population, not other elite athletes. In even implied that they expected to see the same results with other athletes. I am pretty sure Peyton Manning could out think everyone here in a fast changing situation, and by a wide margin. The results are hardly surprising.

    And why the heck does everyone get so worked up over the soccer/football thing? They are just entertainment. If you prefer one over the other, good for you.

    April 5, 2012 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. CC

    Soccer is terrible. Grown men( if you can call soccer players men) flopping on the ground the second someone touches them. Don't care if the whole world loves it. It's boring and not violent enough. I want to see huge men destroy each other!!!!! Play a real sport Europe! lol

    April 5, 2012 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Al

      Destroy each other??? American football players wear padding all over their bodies. They're covered in it! Talk about being weak!

      April 5, 2012 at 16:10 | Report abuse |
  27. Jokesterer

    They don't seem too quick to realize how boring and lame their sport is.

    April 5, 2012 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Al

      It's boring to you because you're not invested in the sport. It's takes years of growing up around a certain sport to "get it". You don't know the players, the teams, the trades, the stories, the history. You have no attachment to it. So while you're watching it, you have no idea what's going on. You don't know anything about the sport and are incapable of picking up what's exactly happening during a game, and the significance of it.

      And don't get me started on boring sports. America LOVES boring sports... golf, baseball, truly a SNOOZEFEST. And the tediousness of football. My god, it's 2 seconds of action, and then 2 minutes of nothing... players trying to get up and reset and line up again... then another 2 seconds of action... over and over again for four hours. It has absolutely no flow. It's like being in a car and having someone hit the breaks every 2 seconds just for "fun".

      April 5, 2012 at 23:58 | Report abuse |
  28. Jokesterer

    Grass Fairies!

    April 5, 2012 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Goombah

    I would suspect hockey players (those without multiple concussions) would also think much faster than soccer players. We make split second decisions hundreds of times throughout the course of a game...and don't fake injuries...unless we play for Vancouver.

    April 5, 2012 at 11:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. S-man

    If these soccer players have 'enhanced thinking abilities', don't you think they would be better at the, 'I'm barely touched but now I'm going to fake as if I was shot and fall to the ground in intense pain'?

    April 5, 2012 at 14:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. John Vanderkolk

    Soccer is a game between the right brainers and left brainers,the lefties play defense.Almost all great world athletes have a solid soccer background including all tennis players,hockey players and track and field ,skieing and many other sports. There is no sport that gives you that great advantage over other sports.Soccer is the most misunderstood sport in North America and our kids have paid the price for not having been exposed to it.

    April 5, 2012 at 14:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. SoccerBites

    When you 'ladies' are done trying to convince yourselves that soccer is a real sport played by real men please try the following:

    1.) stand in the batters box and let someone throw some 98 mph heat at you.
    2.) stand in the crease while someone shoots 110 mph rock hard piece of frozen rubber at you.
    3.) stand in the pocket while three 300 lb defensive lineman try to tear you apart.

    Soccer players should wear tutus' and a sign that says .."my parents wanted a girl but they settled soccer player".

    Nighty night Girls.

    April 5, 2012 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Al

      So your criteria for sport is... fear? What about athleticism? All of your examples are of projectiles being hurled at someone at high speed. If you think that's what makes a sport great, you're simply a moron.

      Anyway, you're an American. Many Americans make it a point to hate everything they're ignorant about. I bet soccer is one of the many many things you hate in this world. If you were born anywhere else in this world, you'd love soccer. But it's just not "cool" to like soccer in America. It's not tradition there. It's just ignorance. Ignorance about the sport, the world, and your own mind. Try to use your brain once in a while.

      April 5, 2012 at 16:17 | Report abuse |
    • FAFournier

      @Al I was born and raised in Europe and Europeans reflexively hate American sports before even knowing anything about them. They hate that America doesn't bow to their sports traditions, simply because most, if not all of Europe's 'former' colonies would rather celebrate their masters' sports culture than create their own and Europeans never accepted America's independence.

      Bigoted Europeans grow up to believe that Americans are dumb, and that the only way for them to become smart is by aping all things European. Here's the thing though... football is complex while soccer is extremely basic. Lord knows I've been trying hard to get into soccer, if only to 'fit in' and not be the odd guy out during world cups. The problem is, once you understand the strategic depth of football, soccer is a boring, childish, simplistic game. There's no way around it. Europeans are just too arrogant, ignorant and biased against non EU-compliant cultures to realize it.

      April 6, 2012 at 03:17 | Report abuse |
  33. Poodles

    This article should've been simply this:

    No.

    That's the proper length of the article.

    April 5, 2012 at 17:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. drew

    I like soccer but the chicken legs are so ugly. I think that's why football is the most popular in America, football players look like muscle men not chicken legs

    April 5, 2012 at 17:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Al

      Chicken legs? What sport are you watching? You're clueless. Soccer players are known for having well defined, strong legs. Have you ever watched a game in your entire life?? Do a Google image search for "pro soccer player". Or don't... and keep admiring your overrated football heroes with blubber around their bellies. Half of those guys are just plain fat.

      April 5, 2012 at 23:48 | Report abuse |
  35. SoutherCal79

    @gaucho420= I agree 100% with you... i know a couple of rednecks that they think the world is "FLAT" ...

    April 5, 2012 at 19:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • eroteme

      I live in Kansas, I am not so sure the earth is not flat, but I have heard people say it is oval.

      April 5, 2012 at 19:19 | Report abuse |
  36. eroteme

    Soccer players think faster than me? How does Elizabeth know, she doesn't even know me! But I am a slow thinker, most everyone thinks faster than me, so these soccer players aren't so special.

    April 5, 2012 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Holyfrak

    Ok, what about basketball or hockey? Those game move fast and require quick assessment. That said I'll bet some day I'll bet it is revealed that this study is highly flawed.
    '

    April 5, 2012 at 21:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. dadaGuerilla

    Sorry, soccer players. There is no doubt that I think faster than the smartest of your ilk. Executive memory, my colon. Execute *this*.

    April 5, 2012 at 22:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. badcyclist

    It only seems like they think faster, because they lull the rest of us into a stupor watching them run around in circles for three hours in a 1-1 tie.

    April 6, 2012 at 00:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. GBfromOhio

    Elite athletes make quicker decisions than average athletes? What a remarkable. insightful study.

    April 6, 2012 at 04:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. m@yahoo.com

    I am an American. Now with that being said, I am not involved in the inbred, hillbilly sport know as football. I cannot decide who has the lower intelligence quotient, the players or the spectators. Essentially the same applies to baseball. I am not a fan of soccor but I can appreciate the real athleticism and intelligence involved in the sport. But I personally do not find it entertaining to watch. However, rugby is the most entertaining sport to play and watch, to me that is. It requires exceptional athleticism as well as field evaluation and remarkable deductive reasoning skills. Ive played rugby with a few football players and they are completely idiotic and have no basic reasoning capabilities or the necessary finesse involved. I am American but I cannot stand the way America is as well as the typical American behavior. Maybe if we were still under European rule we might have some morales and actually value intellect. I apologize to the European nations for my fellow countrymen's stupidity. Also there are a few of us who are decent and have an intelligence quotient higher than the average redneck but unfortunately we are a huge minority. God cannot even bless America.

    April 6, 2012 at 07:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • odk1

      No offense buddy, been American means we justhave alot to learn that all.

      April 6, 2012 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
  42. eddantes

    Comparing American football to "soccer" is like comparing lemons and oranges, 2 great sports, although very different I love them both.

    April 6, 2012 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. odk1

    no comparison soccer & baseball, soccer & football.

    April 6, 2012 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. MDN

    As a lifelong soccer player and fan who grew up in North America I have to say this whole Football vs Soccer thing as ridiculous. Football is fun to watch-if you know the nuances. Soccer is fun to watch-if you know the nuances of the game. Either sport is boring if you don't understand/know the game. I prefer high level soccer (EPL!) to football but get bored watching MLS soccer. Watching football as a television sport is fine-as long as you have other things to occupy the time when there is NO action on the field. I think the WSJ analyzed a football game and determined that during a 3 hour game there is only about 15 minutes of action on the field-now that gets to be boring!

    April 6, 2012 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Stickman

      Great comment. Very true. I hated watching baseball as a kid with my dad. Now, that I understand the nuances, and my team (Phillies) is good, I love it. Same goes with all sports. IMPORTANT ADVICE TO HS FOOTBALL PLAYERS:

      Don't let soccer threaten your manhood, guys. You're still tough, and you'll still get more chicks in high school. But, here's the kicker. You'll never step on a football field again after your senior year (not like you care because you only liked standing on the sideline in your tough looking helmet and pads). You'll probably have a beer gut by 23. If you married your high school sweetheart, God help you, she only married you cause all the cheerleaders thought you were cute at 17 and know you have to live with her fat a$$. My soccer pansy behind is still trim at 34, playing a game I love every weekend. I know much more about other cultures and have played soccer with friends all over the world. And, I like watching American football.

      April 6, 2012 at 20:38 | Report abuse |
  45. George Gilbertson

    Football is for bullies, baseball is for gays and soccer is for men.

    April 6, 2012 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Jim

    I figured that some children's games like soccer had to have some benefits. Just don't let your kids headbutt the ball without proper head protections. Studies have shown that slight brain damage can occur in children's brains.

    April 6, 2012 at 14:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Marlene

    I think any sport can increase your cognitive performance but in kids especially can teach responsability, commintment , honesty, teamwork,respect and friendship.

    April 7, 2012 at 19:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. cosmicsnoop

    I know the study was for soccer, but this could be said for any sport. If you're a professional at any game, you're going to have better and faster reflexes and thinking. My kid plays hockey, which is way, way faster than soccer so if you extrapolate these findings, hockey players must be the fastest thinkers out there because even my 16 year old can skate much faster than a professional soccer player running around.

    April 8, 2012 at 08:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. eroteme

    No upsetting for me, almost everyone thinks faster than me.

    April 8, 2012 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. theTRUTH

    All soccer players do is walk up and down the field for 90 minutes (stfu yes they do). They are among some of the most shameless floppers in all sports. Get em in the ankle and there's about a 99% chance the game will be stopped for 5 minutes while they recover from the life threatening injury. Soccer isn't the world's most popular sport because it's exciting (validation? real madrid vs val, score was 0-0 after 94 minutes), it's because soccer is the most accessible. A ball, a trash can, handful of players, game on. It will never take off in the states because American's have more pride and creativity.

    April 8, 2012 at 17:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Stickman

      Creativity! Ha ha. The coaches do all the creating in football, the players just do what they're told. Then they take a break, so they can get some oxygen, while you watch another Bud Light commercial or take a pi$$. Football is just an excuse to drink beer and get away from the wife.

      April 9, 2012 at 09:37 | Report abuse |
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