Americans don’t get soccer. We probably never will. There’s a reason for this and I don’t think it’s the standard reason that we find the game to be boring. Granted, soccer is boring. Very boring. Soccer is an immensely difficult and deliberate sport to watch. We appreciate the intricacy and skill level involved but still, soccer is boring. Something interesting happens about every 5-10 minutes and it’s usually someone coming within 50 feet of the goal and rifling a kick 10 feet wide of the net. Wow, that was an intricate and skillful play! See you in another 10 minutes.
But it’s not like baseball is a rip-snortin’, mile-a-minute action-a-thon either. Baseball is boring too. So, we’re being a little hypocritical there. (America hypocritical?!?! No!)
The reason the US of A doesn’t “get” soccer is simple sports xenophobia. Soccer is silly. It’s foreign. It’s unwatchable. All non-American sports are. The top sports in the US are (American) football, baseball and basketball. All originated here in the States. Hockey begrudgingly gets a seat at the table only because it’s Canadian – so close enough. Everything else is either a glorified hobby or some weird un-American sport that’s gay and socialist. And there is a bunch of them out there, Fox News watchers! There’s rugby, which is beyond confusing; a drunken soccer hooligan’s concept of “Get the Man with the Ball”. And then cricket. You ever see cricket? A game can last DAYS! And we complain about baseball games longer than 3 and a half hours.
All things considered, Americans are lucky that the world’s most popular sport that we’re forced to pretend to give a shit about once every four years is easy to follow and ends in 2 hours. Still, it’s understandable that most Americans would scoff at and ignore the quadrennial international soccer tournament, the World Cup. For America, soccer is boring, dumb, gay and socialist. But I think a lot of people are missing out on this amazing sporting event and need to start paying at least passing attention. The World Cup kicks ass. You’re missing out of some goofy, wonderful, foreign stuff! Here’s just a few things you’re missing out on.
The Announcers and Color Commentators
Usually former players from various regions of the world, discussing the game using soccer terminology in rapid fire pace with their respective thick accent. It’s like listening to the announcements over the subway speakers. It’s awesome. The guys doing the English Premier League are the best. Listening to a former player from Britain or Scotland hysterically describe what just happened is the main reason I leave the game on Saturday morning while making breakfast.
For example, here’s Ray Hudson for Gol TV.
Yep, no idea what he’s talking about. And as for the play by play guys, you gotta love Telemundo.
The USA team is good……
Lots of people were surprised at the Yanks 1-1 tie with England. But others weren’t. The USA is ranked #15 in the world, which is pretty solid for a national team that didn’t even make the World Cup from 1958 until 1990. There is a niche of soccer-mad people in this country and they have put together a well-run national program. This team isn’t elite, but they can play and there is no reason why they can’t make a run.
…..and it drives the rest of the world nuts
Which is pretty fucking funny, like when the US ended Spain’s unbeaten streak in the 2009 Confederations Cup. Spain was in agony and it barely caused a ripple here in the States. Seriously, you didn’t know that the US beat the #1 team in the world last year until I just brought it up now. The fact that the world’s biggest superpower looks it’s nose down at the globe’s most popular game is a source of international consternation. Thankfully, they put up with all the USA’s wars, renditions and torture. But if the US wins the freaking World Cup?!?!? World War III, people.
A-Rod dating Kate Hudson then Cameron Diaz. Pfft. Nothing. This is 25-year old Cristiano Ronaldo, 2008 FIFA World Player of the Year and star for Spanish club Real Madrid and home country Portugal. His annual salary is 11 million a year outside of sponsorships and his list of conquests is remarkable. He even slept with Paris Hilton, which is both disgraceful and inspiring at the same time. He is a true man-whore. So yeah, as you can see, he has a hard life.
There’s English squad captain John Terry, found to have cheated on his wife with the girlfriend of fellow teammate (!) Wayne Bridge. He knocked her up and then arranged for an abortion. That captain, always thinking of the team! (He’s no longer the captain of the English, just so you know). Terry’s fellow teammate Ashley Cole was found to have been on a Tiger-like rampage through random groupies behind his wife’s back. An underage prostitute claimed to have sex with two members of the French team. This is standard shit in European soccer. I would kill for David Wright to do something like that as opposed to Vitamin Water commercials with “the Situation”.
Glimmers of Joy for the otherwise desolate shitholes of the world
Like the line for the Simpsons (when it was brilliant), games are a determination of “who is the best country in the world, Uruguay or Paragauy!”. Here was the reaction of one of the citizens of Ghana after a goal by the team to defeat Serbia in the first game of the World Cup.
That is the look of pure unadulterated joy. And the realization that no one’s gonna get firebombed tonight.
Reminders that we are lucky to be where we’re from
Although the USA is in a massive, Empire-ending decline there are plenty of opportunities to see the state of the some of the other competing countries and thank the Lord we’re American. For example, here’s one of the players for the North Korean team crying during his country’s national anthem (“Get out of the first round or you will be shot”).
Some claim he’s crying out of emotional patriotic ferver. I say he was having fun in South Africa and was just reminded that when this is all over, he has to go back to that shithole.
This is Diego Maradona, one of the greatest players in the game ever and current coach of the Argentinian team. Since his career ended, he has been to rehab, ballooned to almost 300 pounds, got his stomach stapled, hosted his own TV show in Argentina, is super-pallies with Hugo Chavez, owes the Italian government 37 million Euros in taxes, has a church organized for him (really!) and plowed through more coke and pussy than 12 lifetimes of Tommy Lee. Plus, he’s an arrogant douchebag. The dude recently told Pele, only the greatest soccer player ever and the sports ambassador, to “go back to the museum”! There are questions about whether Maradona is qualified to run the national team (he’s probably not), but for pure car-crash potential it’s a genius move. You can’t look away.
Every World Cup gives the opportunity for the cultural quirks of the host country. In 2002, South Korea hosted and supported their Red Devils by wearing all red and screaming to the point of freaking out the opposition. The slogan was the wonderfully Asian, “Be the Reds”. (Follow them or die! Can you do any less?).
South Africa has granted us the vuvuzela, a plastic horn used as a musical instrument in the country and commonly brought to their sporting events. It’s sound when combined with 50,000 others can best be described as the bastard offspring of the Thunderstick and the “Most Annoying Sound in the World” from Dumb and Dumber. Take a listen.
Isn’t that wonderfully awful?!? And it goes on for almost two hours!! A couple of octaves lower and the players are losing their bowels on the field (sorry, the “pitch”).
Living in New York City
Want to watch England? Go to Nevada Smiths. Wanna watch Italy? Go to Little Italy. Wanna watch South Korea? Go to Flushing. Wanna watch Slovakia? Right around the corner from me. Wanna watch Greece? Go anywhere in my neighborhood. All of Astoria shut down after Greece won the Euro Cup in 2004. I thought they won a war. The glorious international insanity of this event is brought right to your backdoor. I recommend that just once, you take the day off, wake up early and hit bars to watch the festivities. Just cheer when everyone else does. Preferably, go to a Mexican, Argentinian or Brazlian bar to watch their teams play. You’ll thank me.
Why? For the final and most important reason the World Cup is awesome.
When you have the top 32 soccer nations, you have the top talent of the top 32 soccer nations. For example…..
GOOOOOOO Paraguay!! See, if not for the World Cup, you wouldn’t know who Paraguayan model Larissa Riquelme is. Google her. You’re welcome.