I love my country,
but I hate soccer. So with the World Cup just weeks away, I
cringe knowing that the sport will invade television screens. And some
2006 version of Alexi Lalas will squat on the front pages of
newspapers. And some interactive game will occupy my time on the
internet. Dang it.
Instead of some truly American college football preview magazines or
some midseason baseball during the thin summer months, I’m force fed
some cosmopolitan sport that I strongly dislike. Having to look at some
Zimbabwe striker isn’t my idea of ideal sports coverage. Truthfully,
I’d rather watch Phil Jackson fly fish. Why can’t we Americans do
what Terry Holland did and just give up? Just eliminate the program and
slide the resources towards something useful…like football. All we have
to do is to convince the world to follow his lead.
Fundamentally, I can’t understand what makes the sport so popular
worldwide. Is it a worldwide man-crush on David Beckham? Maybe that
Ronhaldino character has brainwashed Brazil with his dazzling dekes. Or
maybe stupid people like a stupid sport. As an outsider, I can’t
stand to watch a game with such few exciting moments. Hockey is low
scoring, but at least the action is fast paced. Baseball’s action is
slow, but constant strategy and home runs keep people in their seats.
So what is the draw? It can’t be the scoring because fanatics will
still pack a 20,000 seat stadium to watch a scoreless draw. The scoring
is exciting, but doesn’t happen enough. What about the ties? In
every other major athletic contest, ties are strictly forbidden.
Finally, hockey got rid of allowing teams in the regular season to tie,
which cheapened the competition.
Frankly, knowing that neither team could win a soccer friendly is a
huge setback. Give the fans what they want to see. Make the teams go
straight to shootouts rather than some golden goal situations or
endless overtimes. And the style of play gets me too. I enjoy
watching superior athletes torch the younger guys, but the amount of
acting is borderline ridiculous. Every time a slide tackle happens near
an opposing goal, someone is boo-hooing talking about how their legs
almost fell off. Unless you’re really hurt, try being a man. At least
Julie Foudy and Heather Mitts don’t cry foul at the scent of another
FIFA or whatever sanctioning body that oversees the World Cup needs to
follow hockey’s lead and adjust the game. Shorten the field, erase the
offsides rule or create a penalty box. Erase the injury time and let
the scorekeeper tell the fans the real time remaining.
In order for me to even begin to tolerate the impending World Cup…who I
am kidding? It’s not going to happen. Here’s to hoping the U.S. will do
well and possibly win, but I’ll be supporting an American and southern
sport with real fights. Mike Helton, bring me NASCAR.