Soccer and I have an unbalanced relationship. I’m not a soccer guy by any means. I don’t follow any soccer teams, leagues, or players. No periodicals, headlines, or blogs on the sport do I follow. But I Jones hard for the World Cup every four year, I do.
For an entire month I can’t get enough of this futbol action. I’ve got a one page printout charting every game, teams, brackets, groupings, point tallies, and start times of every match. I even diligently fill in the results of each match on the sheet for future reference as the Cup progresses.
I root for the U.S., naturally, as the country of my citizenship, as well as for Italy and Germany, the countries of my heritage. Outside those core three my rooting tendencies become more abstract. Root against Greece because almost a third of their workforce is government employees which is for too high to be self sustaining. Root for Uruguay because at 3,500,000 people they are the least populous of the countries to advance to the knockout round. Root against France because of the incredibly bizarre behavior of their former captain in the 2006 World Cup Final where he got riled up and transformed into a billy goat before our eyes and caved in a paisan’s chest with a head butt. Root for South Africa as the host country and underdog.
There’s been much talk and discussion about poor calls throughout the first round of this 2010 World Cup. My early sentiment was that the referees were doing a disgraceful job what with their (1) taking away goals due to apparently erroneous off-sides calls and (2) robbing players of opportunities to represent their countries with poorly attributed red cards. My sentiments have since broadened to a wider web of disgust. Yes, the referees have made some horrible calls, the kind of calls the referees hopefully have the good sense to be embarrassed about once they’ve seen replays. But I offer the suggestion that the players are at least as guilty as the referees.
Have you ever seen a sport with so much flopping? Players universally faking wounds and illegal contact followed by a bout of writhing around on the ground in imaginary pain? This offends me beyond all else. How can a referee be expected to commendably call the action of a game when he’s simultaneously trying to corral 22 clowns through a 90-minute match with these buffoonish antics?
Watching soccer game these two weeks so far have trained my eyes for fakery by these infallible observations:
(1) Player flops to ground and covers face with both hands. When have you ever fallen to the ground and covered your entire face with both hands because your entire face was injured? Never happened, or at least it is a rare occurrence far below the frequency occurring in soccer games.
(2) Player flops to the ground and throws his hands in the air while falling. When have you ever fallen to the ground without your hands instinctively going to the ground to try to break the fall?
Hey, but what’s this guy to do? I’ve got a World Cup-Jones to feed and a good gorging will not be denied. For these four weeks I will maneuver my daily itinerary best I can to enhance viewing time. Than shortly after the July 11 Final I will forget the sport without much more than an occasional cursory thought and a good riddance to the vuvuzela that you’ve heard throughout every single game of this Cup.
Maintaining a flop-free existence.
4 hours ago