World Cup Will Be a Bore

by Eric Gilmore

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 player.
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.

Eric Gilmore