Begel: No interest in the World Cup
Thank God for the United States of America, and that has nothing to do with the just past Memorial Day Holiday.
The United States, it seems, is the last bastion of good sense while the remainder of this galaxy seems to be holding its collective breath for the first kick of the ball in the 2010 World Cup of Soccer (to distinguish it from the World Cup of Jousting) which begins a week hence in a country that became the last in the world to recognize that black people were actually human beings.
I read something in a Paraguayan newspaper the other day that claimed "The Soccer World Is Frenzied" (El Mundial de Futbol es Frenetic!). First of all, who knew I read Paraguayan newspapers? Secondly, I guess that means that I -- clearly not part of the soccer world -- am decidedly un-frenzied.
I feel like I'm being water boarded until I like soccer and the frenzy is hard to resist.
The South African World Cup, which kicks off just over a week away with a game between the host country and Mexico at 9 a.m. Milwaukee time, is certainly a big deal at ESPN which will televise all 64 games on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC. The network has spent more for this broadcast than it has ever spent on anything before.
They've also hired real soccer announcers from around the world instead of asking Dan Patrick or Erin Andrews to do the broadcast. I, of course, opt for Dan Patrick and Erin Andrews. Now we can look forward to a rich diet of Efan Ekoku, Ally McOist and Ian Darke.
I can hardly wait for that Algerian match against Slovenia on Sunday, June 13. It starts at 6:30 in the morning. You've heard of that Sunday morning Breakfast at Wimbledon? This is Mottled Bread (a famous Slovenian dish) at Peter Mokaba Stadium. Doesn't have quite the same ring, does it?
That game may have a little attraction though, because both the Slovenian and Algerian teams are in the same group as the United States and England. Wow, huh? And there is a slim chance that the US team can make it into the round of 16 by beating both the Slovaks and Algerians which would be bloody amazing.
My guess is that a few people more than usual will tune in to watch the United States team play England, the team from where the game was invented. But after the Americans get their butts kicked by a team favored to win the whole thing, the casual soccer fan may well return to his grotto.
Everybody always tells me that we are out of step with the rest of the world where soccer is bigger than either organized or disorganized religion. I agree. We are out of step. But that doesn't mean we are wrong.
The reason the rest of the world likes soccer so damn much is that it's really the only game in town. It's like having just one television channel while the other guy has Time Warner cable.
The rest of the world is falling to its worshipful feet in honor of Slovenia's Milivoje Novakovic and the Argentine Coach Maradona. One is a star that nobody has ever heard of and the other is a stomach-stapled, cocaine using, television host who has almost no experience as a coach and is regarded, along with Pele, as the greatest player of the century.
We, on the other hand, are currently engaged with Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Kyle and Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun. And that's only a single week in June. When you are the only big-time game in town, which pretty much describes soccer in almost every country on earth, then it's easy to get worked up.
Think about it for a minute. In soccer, there are reams of online, television and newspaper coverage of the REFEREES, for God's sake. Referees! The officials are nearly as famous as some of the players. More famous than a lot of them.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Soccer is fun for the people playing the game but watching it is kind of like watching the movie Titanic. You can't wait for the damn boat to sink and it seems to take forever.
Finally, jingoism may be the biggest reason of all that I'm not excited about the World Cup.
In way too many countries, their national pride is tied up in how their soccer team does. Victory is cause for unleashed celebration. Defeat pushes the button of national depression.
I'm probably more patriotic than most people you know. I stand and put my hand on my heart for the National Anthem. When I said hello to a veteran on Memorial Day, all I had to do was look in the mirror.
But the kind of ultra-patriotism we see in events like the World Cup is both distasteful and, even more, destructive. It is destructive of relationships and of the idea of cooperation. For example, odds are that Ireland will never have anything to do with France again.
So to all of you who are going to show up at bars at 6 a.m., to watch Portugal play North Korea, good luck. I hope you enjoy your World Cup, but don't look for me. I've got way too much great sports to concentrate on to waste my time on this.
Natemarq writes to Handal: "your response is exactly the type of elitist attitude that make soccer so unpalatable to me. 'You sir, like most americans'..." Oh, good grief. I've been a writer with a major metropolitan newspaper for more than two decades, and half the reader correspondence I get starts along those lines. And that's from all sorts of people, from all sides of the political aisle, on all sorts of topics. You're reading it as "elitist" only because that's how your brain has chosen to interpret the realm of soccer. Calm down.
Handal: your response is exactly the type of elitist attitude that make soccer so unpalatable to me. "You sir, like most americans" just reaks of self satisfying Euro Phile garbage that is making it hard for me to get amped up for an event that I shouldnt watch because I, simple average american, couldnt possibly understand the "Beautiful game." Maybe I wont watch it than
For the record, I was just laying out other reasons as to why some may not like the sport. I personally don't like it, because it's just too slow. However, I do understand why it is such a popular sport. Just my opinion. And no, I'm in no relation to fellow scribe Mr Begel.
Really MrHuber? Fights and soccer riots are your argument about why Americans dislike soccer? A country that has an entire channel dedicated to reality TV violence in the way of cop, bounty hunter, and sheriff shows? The same country that puts Jerry Springer, Steve Wilkos and Maury Povich on ad naseum? Or maybe it's because it's in sports right? Nevermind 11/09/04 When the Pacers and Pistons shows such good sportsmanship that they decided to fight fans in the stands. Or, the riots that break out every time a L.A. sports team wins a championship. Hell, in the 2003 Superbowl, the Raiders didn't even win, and Oakland broke out into riots. Or maybe because soccer isn't full of upstanding citizens like Plaxico Buress who literally manages to shoot himself in the foot. That first video was almost half filled with just terrible fouls, but i wouldn't call them fights. Say what you will about them, at least most soccer leagues don't allow murderers, molesters, and physical abusers to fill their ranks. I haven't even gotten to pit row fights in NASCAR, more often than not between team mates. And if violence is your argument, why the hell is NASCAR loved so much anyways? it can't be the bright colors on the cars going around in circles can it? Oh, and then there is the NHL. When the most talked about physical altercation in the last 20 years in a sport is a headbutt to the chest, i think you are doing pretty well for yourself.
Check this out -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyDcJZzLcic But wait, it gets better. Videos like this one -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2fW-VUnFWE are maybe why people hate soccer.
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