Monday, July 12, 2010

A random defense of soccer when no one is attacking it.

Nigel De Jong brutally kicked Xabi Alonso and was only given a yellow card...He probably should have been given a straight red and then immediately booked by Johannesburg police for assault. And they say soccer players aren't tough!

Allegedly, when this site began, it was a sports blog. I don't know if I'm outgrowing sports, or more likely regressing to the point before I liked sports, but it's been less and less about that lately. I don't even know how you'd define this blog right now, other than in love with all things odd...which is perhaps a fitting tribute.

Rest assured, however, that despite the fact that I'm not writing much about sports lately, I am still watching them. Today one of my favorite sporting events ended with a fizzle as Spain defeated the Netherlands (or Holland, or the Dutch; Seriously...those people have a branding issue, pick a name that makes sense and stick with it.) in the Final of the World Cup.

I know that in far too many corners of America, Soccer is given short shrift by the sports loving public, and today's game will do little to change that, as it was a brutally boring game for most of the match. The game will be remembered more for the 13 yellow cards and 1 red than for the late goal that was put into the net by Spain near the end of extra time, over 110 minutes into the contest. The game was far from "the beautiful game" and I fear that this dull 1-0 game will confirm all the wrong assumptions American sports fans have about soccer. (Although, you have to admit that two teams wearing Orange and Navy Blue uniforms looks pretty swank.)

However, my fellow Americans, I urge you not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Soccer is great, and we're getting better at it. We may never win the World Cup in my lifetime, but then again we might. Landon Donovan's last minute goal to thrust the United States into the elimination round of the tournament is one of the few legitimate goosebump moments that have been provided to me by sports over the past year. There were many other thrilling games, including a Uruguay-Ghana game that was one of the more heart pounding events I have ever seen.

We won't see the World Cup again for 4 more years, and while Champions League, English Premiership games, La Liga games, the Bundes Liga, and even our humble little MLS will provide some fun moments, NOTHING is the World Cup. I'm not asking you to like soccer, although I think you might if you gave it a chance. Just remember that sometimes the most exciting games can end in a 0-0 draw. I'm just asking that rather than dismissing it outright as a sissy sport with no scoring, learn to see it for what it is. Because, when played at it's highest levels, it is one of the greatest things going. If nothing else, check it out in four years when the World Cup goes to Brazil in 2014. If you give it half a chance, it might surprise you how much you can quickly learn to love it. (And yes, flopping is reprehensible and the referring can be atrocious, but it's no worse than what you'll see in any random NBA game. As for the European teams rolling around like their leg has come clean off when they are barely touched...they're Europeans, what do you expect?)

So, to sum up this rambling post. Soccer is great, go outside your comfort zone and try it sometime. I used to hate it, and now I think it's great.

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