Jul 5th, 2010 · Categories: Culture, Sports · 1 Comment

Is the World Cup over yet?

I know; it still drags on for a few more days. What little interest I had evaporated when the U.S. team lost to Ghana. I watched about 15 minutes of that match, an experience that only confirmed my dislike of watching soccer in general and the World Cup in particular

What I hated about watching this World Cup

  • Soccer.
  • Vuvuzelas. Not only were they obnoxious, the noise was constant; if there were crowd reactions to the play on the field, they could rarely be heard over the cacophony.
  • Diego Maradona. What a doofus.
  • Officiating. What a joke.
  • Overexposure. It’s not enough that the Disney/ABC/ESPN empire have shown so many games, they’ve had to have talking heads chatter endlessly about them as well.

Why I think soccer is a lousy spectator sport

I know that ESPN and millions of soccer moms have done all they can to make us want to watch soccer, but they have failed. Yes, I’ll watch my grandson play, but I’ll watch him play Go Fish too. The appeal is the kids, not the game; the experience does not translate into a desire to watch grown men who are not my grandson. Soccer is mostly just boring to watch – scoring is rare, teams are often content to play to a tie, and the game consists mostly of watching people running up and down a very large field chasing and kicking a ball. Leaving aside auto racing (which may not be a sport at all), I find at least four sports much more interesting to watch:

  • Football (not futbol or soccer or whatever the rest of the world wants to call FIFA’s game), consists of discrete plays, each of which nearly always matters. Most plays don’t yield a score, but they move the team with the ball incrementally toward – or away from – a scoring opportunity. Within soccer’s vaunted flow, there is little measurable progress as the ball flies back and forth. It’s only when the ball finally turns up in the vicinity of a goal that the threat of a score raises its ugly head.
  • Basketball, of course, lacks football’s incremental progress, but makes up for it with speed and the fact that a score from the opposite end is never more than a pass and a shot away.
  • Baseball is nothing like soccer, of course, but every pitch holds the potential for an opponent’s score. And there’s always time to go to the bathroom or get a beer from the fridge without missing anything.
  • Tennis offers both shot-making and an ebb and flow that is many-layered – sets, games, and points, always points.

Things I dislike about soccer in general

  • Fans. American fans of other sports – especially youth baseball parents – can be pretty unruly. But the international soccer fans’ record for hooliganism, brawling, rioting, stampeding, and killing people is unmatched by anything in American sport.
  • Pratfalls. It’s not hard to find an NBA player who can be knocked flat on his back, arms flailing, by the slightest brush of an opponent’s forearm. But nothing can match the flops of professional soccer players. The sight of an obviously strong, well-conditioned, and downright manly soccer player dissolving into paroxysms of agony at the touch (or near miss) of finger goes beyond laughable to pathetic and, well, downright sissified.
  • Overtime. Sorry, “extra time”; is just silly. Why would I believe that the referee is any better at keeping track of time than he is at spotting goals?
  • Nil. American sports announcers seem to believe that soccer is immune to the slang they apply to other sports. In every sport but soccer, a team that has not recorded any points (or runs) has scored zip, zero, nothing, nada, squat, a bagel, or a goose egg; they have been blanked, shut out, silenced, or held scoreless. Anything but “nil”. [While I’m at it, why do Grand Slam tennis tournaments in Australia, France, and the U.S. take two weeks while Wimbledon takes a “fortnight”? Sports announcers are so fond of phony erudition.]

At least this foolishness only happens every four years. ESPN will continue to promote soccer, with off-year tournaments, English soccer leagues, and America’s own irrelevant MLS, but it should be less intrusive. Until 2014 of course.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 5th, 2010 at 3:00 pm and is filed under Culture, Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Is the World Cup over yet?”

  1. Featured post | The Curmudgeon's Progress Says:

    June 19th, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    […] Featured post from the past: Culture and sports: Is the World Cup over yet? […]

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>