I suppose we go through this tiresome ritual every four years or so, but for some reason the annoyance factor has been heightened this year. It’s World Cup Soccer (I know they want me to say, FIFA World Cup Soccer, so naturally I refrain, just as I won’t say all the corporate garbage names attached to otherwise MLB-worthy stadia): we’re supposed to like it – or at least watch it – I guess because so many other millions around the world are so thoroughly enthralled. Not me.
As I said, this year seems more onerous than usual, with the seeming nod to political correctness insisting that so many hundreds of millions of glassy-eyed soccer enthusiasts (I also refuse to call it football, much as I will not refer to gasoline as petrol) can’t be wrong.
The unmistakable implication is that those who cannot embrace this marvelous game – remember, feet only; no hands, please – must be philistines of the first order. Or maybe xenophobes with that peculiarly American taint exacerbated by our quaint affection for baseball, basketball and the actual game of football.
I don’t like soccer. There, I’ve said it. And not just said it, but put it down in typography of a fashion, so there’s ostensibly a record. I don’t begrudge others their fanaticism about it, and I may even understand it a bit (the fanaticism, that is, not the sport), but I don’t want to watch it. And you can’t make me.
I really haven’t got a clue why the needling is more strenuous this year; maybe it’s because the World Cup is being contested in South Africa, the land where political correctness, self righteousness and hypocrisy blend into a kind of creamy consistency.
God knows soccer doesn’t seem to catch on in this country in the traditional professional sense where we like our spectator sports, but I am aware that it has its adherents at the scholastic level. And that’s good, because I concede that it’s a helluva a lot more exercise than almost any sport I can name this side of water polo, which was once my favorite sport until I read the appalling statistics about how many horses drowned every year.
As to the other widely employed argument that we ought to like soccer because so much of the rest of the world does, I say, phooey. The rest of the world is similarly fanatical about a whole bunch of other things – think crappy food, repressive religions, the metric system, rainbow-colored currencies and driving on the wrong side of the road – and I won’t have anything to do with that stuff, either.
My final argument is that a sport that prohibits most of the players from using perhaps their most prominent and adroit appendages (no smirks, please, I mean their hands and arms) is just silly.
I do, however, like the colorful uniforms and applaud the fact that the sport can be played by vast millions who don’t have the financial wherewithal that might be needed for, say, golf or yachting.
Now there’s a sport I can really get behind, and not just because the cup is more properly named after just us, rather than the whole dang globe.