What I Learned from the World Cup
Well, the World Cup ended yesterday if you didn’t notice (and if you’re an American, you might not have). I was hoping that this would be the year that I’d really start to enjoy the nuance and intricacies of the game, but after the US got eliminated I found it really hard to care at all. Here’s why:
- The officiating is absurd. I’ve never seen so many blown calls in a championship series. The Amish-like aversion to using any kind of tech—whether it be replays or goal-line sensors—is absurd. Especially when the stakes are this high. These are single elimination games and each and every possession counts. That there’s no way to challenge and verify a call that can mean the match is astoundingly absurd and heart-breaking as a fan. I understand that they want to preserve the illusion that soccer is truly the sport of the people (even homeless poor people can play! You just need a ball!) but get over it. It’s hurting the game.
- The flops. Are you kidding me? The staunchest soccer fans immediately point to the NBA and their theatrics. It’s inexcusable in the NBA as well, but it’s still not 1/10th as bad as soccer. In the NBA it’s an exaggeration, and the play is almost always ended so there’s not too much harm in taking a bit of a dive. I saw guys during this World Cup straight up quit on a possible shot-on-goal just so they can throw themselves onto the pitch and hold their face in fake agony. Even the commentator at one point called it “pitiful” and “embarrassing” for the sport.
- The scoring. I think there was 2.27 goals scored per game on average. In 90 minutes (sometimes 120). That’s like a WNBA game.
- The US sucks. And yes, for a US citizen it matters. It’s hard for me to care about teams that play in Europe. It’s hard for me to care about the MLS when our (obviously inferior) talent pool is spread out over 16 teams. When the best athletes in the US are playing basketball, football, and baseball of course I’m going to prefer those sports.
- The fucking vuvuzela. I’m 95% certain that this World Cup will be the birth and death of this obnoxious piece of shit, but if not, I’m going to lose my fucking mind. The first game I watched was online and I thought the audio was broken until the commentator said something. I can’t believe they allowed these things in the stadium. One of the coolest parts of soccer are the chants the international fans have. I never heard a single one. And the players on the field loved not being able to hear one another.
The World Cup is the entire world competing every 4 years in ONE sport, for ONE title. It’s not the Olympics where medals become virtually worthless (302 events in the 2008 Olympics). There’s nothing really like it, which is why I’m so bummed that I just can’t get into soccer. Well, maybe in 2014…