7/24/14

World Cup Thoughts

Every four years I’m reminded of the prevalence of the World’s favorite sport: Football. As an American sports fan distracted by the NFL and NBA, the World Cup takes care of my soccer-watching quota with a month long megadose once every four years. It’s like the Olympics without footage of curling gently lulling me to sleep every night.

To get super bandwagon hyped for the World Cup I actually went and watched a real soccer match. I saw the USMNT (Team America) take down Team Azerbaijan (which Wikipedia tells me is a real place) at Candlestick Park. We won the game as expected, and my wallet also celebrated the victory of how much money I didn’t have to spend on beer since I smuggled in my own pint of Bacardi!

Since I love fantasy sports even more than the real versions of them, I had to do an ESPN bracket predictor with my fellow soccer know-nothings. I picked Holland to win because I am a quarter Dutch (thanks Oma!) and also they have this guy who looks like Professor X. Then at the last minute I pussed out and changed my pick to Brazil like everyone else. This switch resulted in a total TIFU moment when Holland beat the living crap out of Spain in the first game of the tournament.

In an effort to continue my bandwagon support for Team America I bought this Betabrand USA Ping-Pong Polo which also ended up allowing me to wear Dutch colors after I remembered what their flag looked like. Team America did pretty good, playing their way out of THE GROUP OF DEATH in a combination of wins/ties/losses and goals scored/allowed that was almost as confusing as the wildcard scenarios the NFL Network starts drawing up around Week 15. Then they lost and we were out of the tournament but it’s cool because everybody loves waffles and Stella Artois (not mixed together). Netherlands played all the way to winning the 3rd place matchup, but they probably should have been in the final because they really seemed to outplay Argentina in the semis (although this probably wouldn’t have mattered because [SPOILER ALERT] Germany had an army of handsome cyborgs that didn’t lose a single match the entire tournament).

I heard a lot of people complaining about the amount of dives you see in soccer, but really it’s exactly like Football: someone hits the ground and play stops. Maybe instead of stopping the clock they just let it run and add time onto it later or whatever but it basically achieves stoppage of play: an opportunity for players to rest while advertising companies assault the TV viewers with commercials. Except that in soccer they just show you the player rolling around on the ground for a while, and then maybe a doctor jogs over and douses his leg with MAGIC SPRAY. There is no commercial break signaling that it’s time to pee or look at your phone. That took a little getting used to, but fortunately there is still a half time (though lacking a proper live spectacle featuring a pop musician and medley style presentation of their body of work).

It’s not diving that is soccer’s weakness, it’s the scoring celebrations. Touchdown celebrations are way better. Gronk spikes, Graham dunks and Ochocinco does everything else imaginable. All they do in soccer is the sliding onto your knees thing, a celebration so passé here in America that even at weddings it’s only cool to do once or else you become “that guy.”



I thoroughly enjoyed the World Cup, both as an excuse to binge-eat guacamole and as a sporting event. The scoring was exciting and the elite level of play was outdone only by the voguish hairstyles worn by athletes of a sport so beloved the rest of the world is on a first-name basis with them. Until next time I’ll take another four years of helmet-head and some good old fashioned beer commercials.

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