World Cup 2010 ended today in South Africa. I watched. The end.
Ok, seriously though. I did watch. A lot. The only other time I watched soccer was in 1999, when the US Women’s Team won the World Cup. I watched then because the games were fun; goals were scored, back flips were flipped, landings were rounded off and stuck (lookin’ at you, Tisha). Up to, and since, that event, I have found no good reason to watch more than 15 seconds of the sport. But thanks to my growing Twitter obsession, I have a lot of tweeps who are huge soccer fans, so I starting watching as a way of staying involved with the group. Admittedly, I don’t expect I’ll watch again until the next World Cup.
Why? One word: vuvuzela. Nah, just kidding. It actually got to the point where I didn’t much notice them. I even wonder if ABC made an attempt to stifle some of the crowd noise so there wouldn’t be so much of a buzz emanating from the stands. No, I won’t watch anymore because outside of the global interest that surrounds the WC, there’s not much else for me to get excited about in soccer.
I am proud to say, however, that I’ve come away from these games with a much better understanding of soccer/football/futbol. Most of what I learned was good; some was bad. I knew I’d have trouble explaining this in type alone, so my main man Jimmy and I thought we would provide an illustrated handbook, a primer if you will, to our newfound knowledge of the world’s most popular sport. Here are your first 3 lessons:
First lesson: Missing a Goal.
This only applies if you hit the post or crossbar on a scoring opportunity. Or if you’ve driven the ball 20 yards over th..what? Oh, soorrrrrry. 20 metres over the goal. Or wide of the goal. Or kicked it directly to the keeper. Doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you hang your head in shame and cover your face with your hands. Never mind that your opponent is sprinting down the pitch (told ya I was learnin’) to score against you. You need to make the crowd aware that you never miss those opportunities, and are just as shocked and appalled as they that such incredible misfortune has befallen you. Heck, if the other team does score, it will take all the attention away from your missed strike.
Lesson two: The Appeal
When World Cup players compete in their recreational leagues and such, they score continuously. Many don’t even keep score; it’s too much math. So on the World Cup stage, where goals are few and far between, there needs to be a good explanation for each superstar’s failure to score on any given possession. As you can see, Jimmy is asking for one. Rule #2 is, if you get bumped by another player, fall to the ground and throw your arms in the air. This will let the referee know that you have been abused by your opponent, and a stoppage in play is required for you to get back to your feet safely. A look of disdain for his missing the offender’s actions won’t hurt, either.
Lesson 3: The Lower Body Injury
No longer just for the NHL Playoffs, these injuries, and the portrayals thereof, are crucial. We’ve already discussed being bumped into by your opponent. Now, add in being-bumped-into-along-with-lower-extremity-contact. If your opponent knees you in the thigh, touches your knee, wrinkles your laces, scuffs your boot, or otherwise compromises the very essence of your being–your legs–(Taylor Swift has hers insured, you know)– assume immediately that your leg has been broken! Keep in mind, no amount of writhing on the ground is too much. If possible, let the water come to your eye. Any compelling evidence you can present to the referee may persuade him to issue a card to your opponent. (Side note: the yellow and red cards are pretty, but this isn’t Monopoly. You don’t want them. They are bad.) Once the official has determined that he either sympathizes with you, or realizes your foot has not been field-amputated and tells you to grow a pair and get back to action, you can just pop right up and carry on. None of that silly penalizing like they do in American football. No 2 minute punishment like in Ameruckian hockey. It’s all good. You don’t even need to limp!
Ok, that was fun. For me, anyway. And while that was mostly in jest, I did find some of this soccer business rather frustrating. For one, it’s clear to me that FIFA needs to install a second referee. As the NHL realized a few years ago, one ref simply cannot have his eyes everywhere they need to be. There were far too many missed calls. Secondly, the diving and crying and arm-waving by the players was, honestly, disgusting to me. In the final match, Spain scored the lone goal while Netherlands players raised their hands and stopped playing, thinking that the play was offsides. They need to stop trying to make/influence the calls themselves and play the game. Thirdly, this whole business of the referee deciding how much extra time will be played seems silly. Just stop the clock when there’s a delay in play. How is that difficult?
But all in all, it was an enjoyable experience for me. Not many of the teams I chose to root for in a given game won, but sometimes sports are more enjoyable when your heart isn’t attached (see any Cubs post). So thank you FIFA. And thank you, South Africa. And you too ABC, though the LeBron thing still hangs over your head in my household. It was a good time. Maybe I’ll see you again in 4 years!
One more thing: More facetime for Charlize!!