Anything But "The Most Beautiful Game"
Every four years, I give it a try. I really do. The World Cup, pimped by The Four Letter (ESPN), is fed to us in the perfect vacuum. The Stanley Cup and NBA Championship are over, college football is 60 days away and we’re left with either watching summer grass grow or major league baseball. I always choose the former. So, I give it a try. Yes I reacquaint myself with the “The Beautiful Game.” I must say there are always some appealing aspects. The zealotry that each country’s fans exude rival that of SEC fanatics on any given Saturday. The athleticism and fitness of all the players is evident and hearing announcers speaking heavy British Cockney discuss pitches and “thrilling nil to nil” contests is always entertaining. However every four years, I return quickly to why the world’s most popular sport is not the most popular in these parts.
It is important to remember that the world’s most popular sport occurs in most places where alternative activities are starvation and cricket! Second, the field is too darn big. When you give dimensions in acres instead of yards, you know you have a problem. With such a large “pitch”, scoring becomes a problem. Couple that with the fact that if you beat your defender to the goal, you’re “off-sides.” There’s no reward for speed. It’s like saying that a wide receiver has to run side by side with the defensive back covering him instead of trying to separate or the fast break in basketball has to be an even break.
And then there’s the lack of goal scoring?
In every game, players tripped, bumped, jostled drop to the ground as if deer hunters shooting from blinds have dropped them like a Buck shot during the rut. They writhe in pain, roll from side to side and cover their faces to hide their complete discomfort. Like watching WWE, we know they’ll make miraculous recoveries even after the stretcher has carried them to the sidelines. They sprint back to the pitch as their fans react with fervor for the bravery of their return.
Also, did I mention they don’t score much?
Referees act as police officer, judge and jury calling games by themselves with the help only of underling linesmen who raise flags when there are off-sides (which is often) or to point which direction the ball is to go when the ball goes out of bounds. They’re tyrannical bureaucrats keeping secret the exact time remaining because of arbitrary “extra time” given because the clock continues during injuries real or fraudulent, celebrations and during substitutions. They determine solely who gets penalized with yellow cards or are thrown from the games after red cards.
And then there’s Luis Suarez. Uruguayan soccer has their own non-fictional Hannibal Lecter. In the last four years, Suarez has bitten three opponents including an Italian in this year’s World Cup. All were nibbled on without fava beans and a nice Chianti. I would love to play in one soccer game against Luis and go Medieval on him if he bit me. I would get more than a red card…
And of course, there aren’t many goals scored.
What do you call a sport that doesn’t reward superior talent, coaching or preparation? Well I certainly don’t call it beautiful. No….it’s barely pretty. It is something to fill the time between sports and it’s a better choice than drag racing, the CrossFit Championships, MLB or the WNBA.
Here’s to another nil to nil nail-biter!