Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My (World) Cup Does Not Runneth Over

For those of you who count yourself amongst my Facebook friends and are, as such, subjected to my multiple daily status updates, you know that I was summarily underwhelmed by the supposedly supreme world event known as the 2010 FIFA World Cup. I posted my first rant after the disappointing USA vs. England match and haven't let up since, posting the YouTube link to Letterman's "Top Ten Reasons Americans Don't Like Soccer" last night.

As a sports fan and an American, I initially bought into the hype. The USA vs. England match was touted for weeks and by the time the kick-off or tip-off or whatever they call it in soccer rolled around (pun most definitely intended) last Saturday at 2:30pm ET, I was fired up and ready for my underdog Americans to put a revolutionary ass-whoopin’ on those boys with notoriously bad teeth. (Calm down all you folks over in the UK; sweeping generalizations and the perpetuation of stereotypes are permitted for comedic effect.) What I got instead was 90+ minutes of the most disappointing and anticlimactic sporting event since Mike Tyson knocked our Peter “Hurricane” McNeeley in less than 90 seconds. As you no doubt know by now, the game ended in a 1-1 draw, aka a fancy word for ”tie”. That is, no one won and no one lost, kind of like in U-5 soccer.

After witnessing that disappointing yawn-fest, I find myself having a difficult time getting into a tournament governed by rules which would permit such an atrocity. I mean, this is a HUGE tournament. People wait four years for this thing to come around, paint themselves in their home country’s colors, take a month off from work to attend, and have been known to beat each other to a pulp over the outcome. This is supposed to be the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup, and NBA Championship all rolled into one (again, pun most definitely intended).

Imagine going through the entire NFL season and heading into the Super Bowl. As luck would have it, your favorite team is matched up against your most loathed rival in the opposing conference. You eat, sleep, and dream football for two weeks. You trash talk. You RSVP “No” to your own child’s wedding because you don’t want to miss the game. FOX runs slickly produced commercials ballyhooing the game and you get a little more charged up each time you see one. You have your snacks lined up, your friends gathered around the 52” HD set to rally ‘round the team, and your sports-averse partner has agreed to leave the house so that you may bask in glory that is hardcore, hard-fought, and hard-won competition.

The teams scuffle through the first half to a 0-0 score. “Great defensive battle!” you tell yourself as you replenish the beer cooler and re-fill the dip bowls at half-time, “THIS is what championship football is all about!!”

Defense continues strong as each team manages only a field goal in the second half. Time is running out on a 3-3 score. Your team is driving down the field, almost within your kicker’s striking distance when you notice that the game clock has expired. But wait, the ref is winding his arm indicating that he’s putting more time on the clock, albeit a mystery amount of time to which only he is privy. You watch a few more plays, your team getting closer and closer and then….*SHRILL WHISTLE SOUND* Game over. It’s a 3-3 tie and there is no winner. Thanks for watching; everyone can go wash off their face paint now.

How disappointed are you in that moment? Exactly.

And the world dares call this “soccer” thing a sport! *hrumph!!!*

As a patriot and general sports fan, I won’t say that I won’t continue to follow the US Men’s team as they work their way through the bracket. While I don’t plan to take a day of vacation to watch the conveniently scheduled 10a.m. ET game against Slovenia or Slovakia or SloGin-esburg on Friday, I’ll likely TiVo it and zip through to the “exciting” parts, such that they are. But just as I don’t follow luge or water polo once the Olympics come to an end, you shan’t find me following soccer once the FIFA World Cup comes to an end. Heck if the guys who make the rules of the game don't care who wins, why should I? I know there were high hopes that the USA vs. England match-up would make soccer fans out of us ugly Americans, but unless they unleash a few of those lions or tigers or some other creature native to South Africa onto the pitch to add a little zest to the game (and give the weenies who play it a REAL reason to roll around on the ground acting like they're dying after the tiniest bump or tap), I do believe the world will be waiting another four years to take their shot at making us believe that futbol’ is anywhere near as great a game as football.

(Note: Yes, I know that in the championship contest of the FIFA tournament the game won't be permitted to end in a tie so spare me your detailed explanation of the round-robin tournament-type format and the associated point system.  I'm a girl, but I do "get" it.  I just don't like it.)

Candy Parker

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