Pharos-Tribune

Columns

July 1, 2014

VILLAGE IDIOT: What's wrong with soccer anyway?

Have you been watching the World Cup? I have, even though I don’t know the rules, or if there are any — beside the obvious one that you can’t use your hands, except when you can use your hands. But mostly it seems you can’t.

That seems to be a pretty good rule that would improve almost any sport. Golf would certainly be a much more exciting sport if players had to kick the ball into the hole, or use the club with their feet. Tennis would be absolutely thrilling. And calling American football “football” would finally make sense. Why do they call it “football” when most of the time, the players are holding the ball in their hands or passing it with their hands? At least have the common decency to call it “foot and hand ball.”

It turns out I’m not alone in watching the World Cup: The TV ratings for the World Cup are beating the NBA Finals and some World Series games, and the matches aren’t even on network television. Just cable. And when you see World Cup matchups like Portugal vs. Ghana, Korea vs. Belgium or Greece vs. Cote d’Ivoire, it suddenly becomes clear that what baseball so egotistically calls the “World Series” is really just a regional championship of some minor sport. Baseball’s about as much of a “world” sport as hurling or hot dog eating.

And then there are the soccer fans. They are even more insane than the rows of shirtless, drunken men who show up at NFL games spelling out their team’s name on their guts in the middle of an ice storm. Sheesh, it’s like those guys aren’t even trying.

Remember the vuvuzela debacle in South Africa four years ago, when a stadium full of horn-honking fans drove millions of people to turn off their TVs? That’s what real fans do: get people to stop enjoying the game. There’s nothing like traveling a long way to see your favorite team, spending a lot of money on tickets, maybe spending even more money for parking and a hotel room, and then having to sit behind a group that unfurls a massive banner that says “Go Team!” and blocks your view of the game. But this year, vuvuzelas, large banners and other annoying items have been banned from World Cup stadia. Not to worry, though — a lot of World Cup fans like to show up in outfits that seem to have fallen off the back of Lady Gaga’s tour bus.

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