Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Soccer and Such

Well, I've been meaning to write a post on this since opening day, but for whatever reason I'm just now getting around to it.  And, for equally unknown reasons, I'm writing this up now instead of either working or watching Germany v. Poland.  I've been assured, however, that Germany never loses to Poland, and so far the match is scoreless anyhow.

So... I've gotten sucked into the world of soccer in the last week.  Friday I was slightly burnt out and fairly intent on doing anything but working on my paper, and so I was gladly dragged along to watch the opening games of the World Cup.  Our department has a decent representation of non-Americans, as well as Americans who actually care about this international sport, and so the company during these matches has been quite knowledgeable.  I must say, though, that I am really sick of all the people---Americans and non-Americans alike---who keep talking about how, in general, Americans don't care about soccer.  (And, yes, I realize that by complaining about it, I too am talking about it.)  They talk about how 2.2 billion people were watching the World Cup finals last time (they're every four years, so that would have been in 2002, when Brazil won and I had a room on Mass. Ave. ...).  That's one third of the world population.  Here's one for you:  did you know that the World Cup was held in the United States in 1994?  Apparently, that is when and why Major League Soccer was formed in the US; to host the World Cup, you have to have a national soccer league.  Also, apparently, 50% of Americans were unaware that the World Cup was being held here.  I was certainly one of them.

The ones that really get under my skin are the Americans who talk as if America is inferior because we don't care about this sport.  Seriously, what the hell?  It's not like we don't care about sports or rivalries.  The difference is, the United States is a large country without any natural rivals a la England v. France, and Americans already believe they are better than any other country.  We create national pride by invading other countries, not by beating them on a game field.  (Sure, the morality etc. et.c of this can be debated, but hang with me here ...)  And, yes, we have our sports.  We care deeply about them (I was in Boston when the Red Sox won the World Series---ah, yeah, we care about sports).  The way I imagine soccer in the rest of the world is like this.  Take Boston and New York.  Let New York only have one baseball team. which we all know is really the Yankees.  Now, give both Boston and New York a lot of guns, don't let them trade players, but do let them invade each other if they feel they have sufficient reason.  Think I'm kidding?

I will concede one point, though:  people say Americans are wussy because the celebrated sports in the great U. S. of A. all have time-outs.  Baseball, you take turns.  Football, you go for a few minutes, max, and then stop and try again---and you only get a certain number of tries.  Basketball even has time-outs instead of letting the clock run continuously.  In soccer, on the other hand, the clock runs continuously for forty-five minutes, while one of the referees keeps track of how much time should have been taken for time-outs, and tacks it on to the end fo the half (which is known as "stoppage time.")  So, okay, sure, it's less atheletic.  But giving us fans only 15 minutes to go to the bathroom or get another snack??  Haven't you people ever heard of "commercial breaks"???

Oh, let's see.... other fun stuff....  well, when trying to learn all the rules, I asked about what happens if a player accidentally knocks the ball into their own goal.  Apparently it counts as a point for the other team anyhow, unlike the safety in football.  And, apparently, people can get really pissed off ... in 1994, a Colombian player scored against his own team in the World Cup, and could never show his face in public again.

We went down to the Drexel Theater yesterday to watch the Brazil v. Croatia game, which was being shown for free in one of the theaters.  While the game itself was rather entertaining, to be sure, I was fairly amused when a fan ran onto the field.  The commentators kept talking about how the cameramen were being very good for not showing him and therefore not condoning the behavior, but we finally go to see him being carried off of the field.  He was wearing a Croatian red-and-white checkered jersey, "but the blue-jeans gave him away."  The commentators then commented that "this doesn't bode well for security ... and neither does this," as they show multiple places in the stands where Croatian fans had red blazes going with nice thick red smoke.  Absolutely awesome.


PePEt said...

catalonia is not spain

mollishka said...

... who said anything about either?