Wednesday, June 14, 2006

and in the end, balls are kicked all around

I wish I could get into the World Cup. It seems like people are enjoying themselves. Not being a soccer fan this month is like staying home to clean your closet knowing everyone else is at a big party.

But the sudden interest is mystifying to me. With a few exceptions, I don't know a lot of soccer fans. Soccer is notoriously not a big sport in America. Every few months, a sports magazine will publish a thinkpiece trying to explain why Americans play it as kids but lose interest by adulthood.

Plus-- and this pains me, because I know how passionately many of you feel about this-- televised soccer matches are boring. There. I said it. It's a lot of running around and very little scoring action. I'm sorry, but I'm an American. I want lots of points and quick plays and spectacular saves and, if at all possible, some injuries. To be fair, I did enjoy watching soccer matches on TV when I was backpacking in Europe, but there were large crowds and lots of enthusastic swearing in unfamiliar languages. Scheisskerl, indeed! In DC, World Cup games tend to bring out lot of 20 and 30-something white guys who are often most giddy about having a reason to leave their cubicles for a 90 minute lunch.

What most mystifies me, however, is that with the World Cup in full swing people are suddenly full of passionate opinions regarding the goaltending abilities of Croatia and can recite the most obscure stats of the team from Trinidad and Tobago. I'm so confused here. Have you had this extensive knowledge of Norweigan sports teams all along, and it's merely been lying dormant so that you could focus on your fantasy baseball teams? Did you spend a few intense days reading espn.com, as one might frantically try to cram for the final in a class they skipped all semester? Or is there a secret Man Code that forbids you from saying out loud: "I actually don't care much about this big international sporting event. I find its matches dull and my nation's team will not play well. Let's watch something else."

But it seems like you guys are having fun with it, so that's nice. And I do like the idea of a matchup like the Portugal-Angola game on Sunday. Even though Portugal won, it's nice to know that a former colony had the chance to athletically humiliate the imperial forces that devastated their nation and people. It's a swell idea. And actually, now that I think about it, much easier for a history nerd like me to get behind than, say, a rivalry between Los Angeles and Miami:

"Our clubs are hotter!"

"Our women have bigger tits!"

"Yeah, well, one time our guy was somewhat abraisive to your guy on AND off the court while he was still YOUR guy!"

"You're going down, bitch!"

Plus, soccer has brought us the deliciousness that is Footballers' Wive$, and for that I will always be grateful to the sport. While soccer fans gather at Lucky Bar and Dukem for games this weekend, I will be marking the World Cup by watching Jason impregnate Jackie with what will ultimately become Kyle and Chardonnay's hermaphrodite baby, whilst Salvatore Biagi moves in with Ian and Donna only to steal Donna's heart, which was weakened by both by losing the custody fight for the child she gave up for adoption when she was thirteen and by Ian's threesome with the hookers that wound up on the front page of the Daily Mirror.

Hey, everyone has their own way of celebrating. The important thing is that we ultimately agree to celebrate.

3 comments:

I-66 said...

[sigh]

Jimmy Sanders said...

ej,
i love you to death, which is why i'm going to explain this in the most respectful way possible and not go completely nuts here. i think that the excitement in soccer comes from watching the development of the play. context has a huge importance, just like in baseball. any thirty-second clip of a baseball game isn't really exciting, it's what else has happened (and might happen) around it that makes the moment you're currently watching exciting.

it's an acquired taste. like menthol cigarettes.

-jimmy sanders

ejtakeslife said...

"Jimmy" - No offense taken my dear; as always we continue to translate the ways of the opposite sex for one another. But I still don't get how this sudden acquisition of stats and knowledge of obscure teams comes from. Have you always known so much about sporting in Portugal, or did you bone up for the occasion?

And I thought we agreed not to talk about the menthols in public again. Ahem.