Confessions of an occasional Cup fan
A few burning questions I’ve already heard concerning the first week (plus) of World Cup 2010:
“What does PRK stand for?”
“Wait … why is the clock counting up?”
“How much do these guys run in a regular game?”
“What in (expletive) is that (expletive) noise? Is the stadium being attacked by bees?”
And finally, my favorite …
“Who in their right mind would care so much about this stupid game?”
You have to love the climate in America these days, where something so simple as soccer — the world’s favorite sport and a unifying game in many places — somehow sparks heated debate that often falls somewhere along the political aisle.
Goes the (somehow completely serious) rhetoric, liberals love soccer because soccer is a sport that values the collective over the individual. More to the point, liberals love soccer because the rest of the world loves soccer and is way better at it (for the most part) than the U.S. Liberals, as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, hate patriotism, nationalism and America’s smug sense of world domination.
Nonsensical though this argument may be, America’s hardened band of “soccer poets” makes it difficult for people like me to truly embrace the game. Where they see poetry, I see background noise. Sorry, guys.
Still, it’s hard for a fan of sports to not enjoy the World Cup. It’s a competition in which nations go after one another: tons of intensity, passion and — because it only happens once every four years — memories that will last a long, long time.
(Note: my favorite thing about the Cup is its matching up of quirky nations who ordinarily would have nothing to do with one another. On Sunday I watched two players from Slovakia and Paraguay locked in a trash-talking match. What could they have possibly been discussing? And in what language? I have no idea, and somehow it’s better that way.)
And I have no idea if soccer really is the sport of the future in America, as has been endlessly predicted since sometime in the 1970s. I can’t envision a scenario where I drive hundreds of miles to grill and slap hands with strangers for hours before and after a soccer match, national pride or no.
Does that really matter, though? Can’t we just enjoy a great sporting event for what it is, without postulating about the political or social implications, just for a few minutes?
They will, of course, have to put those gawd-awful horns away.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
more shameless career promotion: this week's SCT column
Editor's Note: In an effort to shamelessly promote my own career, I'm posting this week's column from the St. Clair Times on the blog. Also worth noting: the column was finished before Wednesday's dramatic U.S. victory over Algeria. Thanks in advance for your feigning of interest.