Clash of the Titans LIV: Soccer

October 16, 2007, 12:00 pm; posted by
Filed under Debate, Djere, Mike J  | No Comments

In this corner, a soccer fan, is Djere!

And in this corner, against the game, is Mike!

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!

GOAL! GOAL! GOAL! GOAL! GOAL!

Hey there, sports fans! Whether you’re the spoiled spawn of a disinterested suburban trophy wife or more useful to your parents tending the cassava fields than at school, everybody loves soccer! Scratch that: everybody loves fútbol!

Here in America, it used to be that we would raise a collective yawn every four years for soccer’s World Cup, knowing full well that nations we could literally wipe off the face of the planet would make our best and brightest look like a high school junior varsity squad.

But things are changing! Soccer in America is the most popular organized children’s sport, and being a soccer mom is hip! Everybody wants to be a soccer mom… even Mike!

With the addition of international footballers like David Beckham and Juan Pablo Angel, new clubs like FC Toronto, and the “Superliga” tournament pitting the best of the MLS against the best of the Mexican fútbol leagues, soccer’s on the rise.

And why shouldn’t it?

Americans are fat and lazy. The cure? Soccer! A soccer field looks familiar to Americans — a wider and longer NFL field, but players on the pitch run for almost 90 straight minutes, not stopping after every play to release a hip hop album.

Americans lust for blood. The cure? Soccer! Hooligans riot for weeks when their teams lose a match to a rival! Players have been shot to death for scoring own goals! And when a player commits a penalty, the ref pulls out a card — he doesn’t toss a froofy kerchief to the four winds of heaven — and books the offending player. There are no coaches challenging the call on the field, no umpires spitting tobacco, and best of all, no John “Turducken” Madden.

Americans want to be entertained. The cure? Soccer! Hands down, the single most aesthetically appealing points in any sport — bar none — are soccer goals. How many times can you see some 11-foot-tall college dropout reach up and place a ball in a basket? How long will you watch 14 400-pound college “graduates” slam into each other so 1 tiny man can dive over the blubbery mess into the end zone? Are you bored with jacked-up, ‘roid-ragers hitting little white balls over a fence with a stick? Soccer goals are quick and amazing at the pro level, the propulsion of a ball 30 or 40 yards with pinpoint precision. The spin, the physics, the drama, the beauty of a well-struck goal can cause entire nations to bless or curse.

Not that Americans would know anything about that. What’s that? NASCAR’s on? YEE HA!

I know that saying this will make me sound like a jingoistic pig, but would someone please explain what is so beautiful about the beautiful game?

Three things that are not so beautiful:

1. Red cards. In my mind, if a team has to play a man down for the entire remainder of the game, there ought to be dismemberment of some sort involved. But because some guy, in the heat of the moment, tackles another in a particularly egregious fashion, all of the sudden he’s out of the game and his team is now forced essentially to hope for a tie? Really?

When Paul Lo Duca whined and moaned through the Mets’ epic collapse, getting ejected from games, were the Mets prevented from using a catcher? No? Why? Because it’s ridiculous, that’s why. Oh, and by the way, that red card–all a judgment call. Not that the refs having all that power has ever led to corrupt officials.

2. Offsides. Okay, I’m snoozing my way through a game–oh, pardon me, a match — when finally — finally! — someone manages to break through all alone to face the goalie.

For the first time, I raise my eyelids slightly, only to have the ref blow the whistle and inform everybody in attendance that the previous moment of heart-pounding excitement was an infraction of the rules. Oh good. Now I can go back to my sleeping, and the crowd can go back to their drinking, unconcerned that any substantive action may take place on the field–er, pitch–to distract us from those worthy pursuits.

3. Soccer parents. Something must be done about these people. I’m at a JV soccer match today at the local high school watching a girl from our youth group. A girl goes down on a somewhat hard tackle. The ref lets it slide and continues play.

Behind me, a man, entitlement dripping from his lips, says, “Hey ref–what’re you looking at?” and proceeds to carry on an argument with the ref. In a crowd of 50 people max, this man, unencumbered by any sense of shame, barks at the ref at a girls’ JV game.

Don’t tell me this happens to this extent in other sports. Soccer’s big here in the ‘burbs, where people have it all, but are in constant fear of losing it all. The incredibly dull nature of the game gives these people time to ponder the emptiness at the core of their lives and makes them even more agitated about it. Suddenly, a ref’s judgment call turns into a personal attack on my precious little Fiona! Hell hath no fury like a tight-lipped nervous suburbanite scorned.

A vote for soccer merely perpetuates this insanity. Don’t do it!

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