The Beautiful Game

Here are the reasons why you should watch the World Cup intensively (started today with Brazil beating Croatia 3-1):

1) It’s only a month long. You can do anything for a month, even pretend to like soccer. In January, people manage to eat healthy and exercise for a whole month before giving up in February. Make this your June/July resolution.

2) National pride. “Go, go USA.” And then “Rule Britannia.” And finally, “Deutschland, Deutschland, über alles.” Try to be careful not to slip into nationalism here. I tend to root for the Northern Europeans because they appear to be cleaner and flop less theatrically than their Latin counterparts (looking at you, Neymar Jr.). But be careful. It’s a slippery slope.

3) For a month, the world feels smaller. I love watching on my little laptop knowing that people are watching the same match all over the world. I mean, even Pope Francis is watching. You’re in good company, should you watch.

4) It’s refreshing to see the US struggle to compete. I love being a citizen of the United States, but sometimes I really dislike the whole ‘Merica attitude. We may have football, baseball, and basketball, but in the sport the rest of the world plays we rank #13.

5) British sportscasters. Probably just the accent, but I feel like these men are far more profound and knowledgeable than our commentators. Also, I know less about soccer, so they could be feeding me lies. Still, it feels classier than watching the Heat-Spurs game.

6) Limited commercial breaks. There are two 45 minutes halves that run without stopping. The only time you see commercials is during halftime. Amazing.

7) Mistakes are made. This ain’t Wimbledon, folks. That tournament has one chair umpire and 18 line officials on the court. At the World Cup, it’s just the referee and the 2 linesmen. There are no challenges to calls. No instant replay. We just now have goal-line technology. We could complain about this (I was already feeling frustrated today), or we could embrace the fact that we can always blame a bad or missed call for a loss. After all, life isn’t fair, so why should our sports be?

8) World Cup Bracket. The reason I watch NCAA basketball in March/April is because I make a bracket. I am highly invested in the tournament until Duke gets upset again like they always do and blows my bracket for the year. Not everyone has a Papa Kjergaard who pays the bracket winner a prize (yes, we participate in a pool that we do not pay into), but you too could create a bracket and feel similarly invested in the outcome of the match. In fact, we do two brackets: one for pool play and one for the rest of the tournament.

9) Geography/Current Events. You can learn a lot by listening/watching the ESPN/ABC stories about teams from other parts of the world. I would have known nothing about the civil war in Côte d’Ivoire if not for stories about Didier Drogba and Les Elephants.

10) The USA will win the world cup this year. You heard it here first. We have a German coach (who doesn’t realistically expect them to win). And we’re ranked #13. We just have to somehow come out ahead of Ghana and Portugal. But who is Ghana (just the team that k knocked us out of the past two World Cups)? And Portugal is just Cristiano Ronaldo (best player in the world) plus ten other players. And the fact that we’re in the Group of Death is an honor. Germany, Ghana, and Portugal are just as nervous about playing us as we are of playing them. So yes, it’s going to be a pretty historic tournament for team USA.

*Hope and sarcasm are intertwined in #10.


2 thoughts on “The Beautiful Game

  1. Haha, you nailed it. I’m watching a replay of the Spain-Holland game right now; it just occurred to me that the commentators could be making things up on the fly and I’d have no idea.

    “A surprising choice of direction, but he’s made some excellent goals with his right foot, especially in his Arsenal days…” sure, charming British man. Whatever you say.

  2. I’ve been telling everyone I’m rooting for the Netherlands, but solely because of our phone conference on Friday. You do however, make some convincing arguments.

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