Thursday, July 8, 2010

What World Cup Futbol has taught me

For the first time in my (long) life: A televised stadium sport that entertains me! I find all the others crashing, except maybe Olympic gymnastics.

I've been going to restaurants and spending too much money to sit in air conditioning with other rowdy types and watch World Cup soccer, and it's been great fun, some very exciting matches of very well-matched teams. Sorry Ghana got gypped out of play. Glad the Germans lost, though they played damned well. I think I'm for Spain in the final, but not necessarily.

Things I've learned from this Cup:

What soccer is about is: Allowing Real Men to show pain. We all feel it, but in our macho society, men are not given (unspoken) permission to display it. In soccer, that rule is suspended, notably on the following occasions:

1) Lying on your back, knee to your chest, clutching your ankle and howling voicelessly. This appears to be the prime soccer tactical move, in which all players are trained except maybe goalkeepers, who are expected to take three times the punishment and display no emotion at all.

2) Expression of anguish on your face as the certain goal you just kicked is either deflected by an unnoticed opponent or else goes wide of the net or, most painful of all, is neatly caught by the goalkeeper and tossed three-quarters of the field away.

3) Expression of anguish (usually a roll of the eyes) as you realize the microphone in your face has picked up your voice, demonstrating to the entire world and ALL the folks back home that you cannot sing the national anthem on anything like proper pitch.

It all makes me very sad that no one played soccer when I was in junior high or high school. It was all American football or baseball, both of which I detested. The only sports I was ever remotely good at were kickball (in elementary school) and dodgeball -- I couldn't hit them, but no one could hit me, for the same reason -- atavistic terror -- that I could never catch a ball either. In soccer, these skills might have had some application.

Let men feel! Play more soccer! Lie on the ground clutching your ankle screaming! (I just know my technique would have been fab at that last.)