World Cup, guys! Are you excited? For many reasons, I find this more fun than any other sportsapalooza. A metric? I’ve installed the GOAL sidebar in Firefox, so I don’t have to wonder which game is being played when.
And how come?
Personal history, in part. My counterculture high school fielded a soccer team, instead of football. Our guys played with long hair and bandana headbands and we were cool. In college, one of my best friends was a guy who had a) grown up in Hungary b) escaped over the border with his parents at 14 c) attended high school in Canada d) been recruited to Princeton to play soccer.
So I hung out with the soccer team all senior year. Might have dated that best friend too, briefly. When Pelé and Beckenbauer came to the US, and the Cosmos played in New York, we went to a game. So did the world, it seemed, or at least its representatives.
And then my son’s time as center midfielder in high school. Vivid memories of that so smart teenager, watching the field, never making a mistake.
Of course, soccer is harder to enjoy on television. But coverage has improved enormously over the years, and ESPN GO makes it easy to catch up on the lore we in the USA might miss. While I may not want background stories on minor characters in Game Of Thrones (it’s pretend! I’m suspending disbelief! don’t complicate things!), they do make for a better soccer experience.
A question that’s been puzzling me. Why does soccer seems to produce more photos of good-looking men than any other sport? Many possible explanations. Football and hockey players wear too much headgear, basketball players never stop moving long enough for a shot, baseball players are too often prone to unusual facial hair and golfers to tummies. Now, Olympic athletes, hmmm, but I just can’t get past swim caps.
Call me old-fashioned.
Finally, soccer’s global reach gives humankind the chance to show up civilized. Or not, of course, as recent struggles with racism and thuggery prove out. But I like to watch the stands almost as much as the games, to imagine the lives of the players and fans, to compare the body languages of different cultures.
“High WASPs did not originally understand the falling down to bring a foul call, but we now believe it’s quite a good strategy, under the circumstances.”
Columbia vs. Greece starts in 10 minutes. South Africa’s 2010 World Cup brought us the vuvuzela – Brasil, what you got?
Photo credit: ESPN