World Cup in Review

A few random thoughts after watching approximately 100 hours of World Cup coverage in the last month:

1) Football demands patience of those who seek to appreciate it, and extreme physical endurance and skill of those who play it. In the former it resembles baseball, and in the latter it resembles basketball.

2) The World Cup features the most spectacular aggregation of athletic talent at one event. All the best players from all the best teams in the sport that all the world plays come together at a monthlong tournament every four years. Even if you are not a football fan, I think you can appreciate the World Cup.

3) Though I like football, especially at this level, several common occurrences in the games irked me. Many players (Figo and Ronaldo of Portugal come to mind) go through a well rehearsed drama to attempt to saddle the other team with a foul. At the slightest hint of contact, they will dive to the ground theatrically, grab a body part, and scream as if they were just hit by shrapnel. A stretcher will then be brought out, and the player carried off the pitch. Within 30 seconds of being on the sideline, the player will jump up and run around like a gazelle again, as if they were touched by Benny Hinn. It's absurd, and yet it happens about every 10 minutes in virtually every match. Except for the teams from England and the United States (not coincidentally the primary ones with the balls to go into Iraq), virtually every team will employ such tactics. It reminds me of the way the Utah Jazz with Karl Malone and John Stockton played basketball.

4) Italy beat France in the final, making the United States the only team that did not lose to Italy in their 7-game run. By the transitive property, we are 2nd place...

5) Two of the best players in the tournament committed idiotic fouls that probably doomed their teams. For England, 20-year-old Wayne Rooney drove his cleats into another man's jewels against Portugal. Then, in the Final, France's legendary Zinedine Zidane, probably the best player in the world for the last 10 years, the hero of their 1998 tournament, playing his last game ever, unbelievably decided to decleat an Italian defender with a vicious headbutt.

6) Seriously, watch the Zidane video. He totally went Section 8. The only correlary I can think of would be Michael Jordan pushing another man to the ground on the last play of his NBA career. Wait...

7) So another month of truly obsessively following the World Cup is through. Until 2010...


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