Wake me when Cup is over
I don’t care.
I’ve tried to embrace soccer. Really. I’ve watched it, played it, studied it, covered it, listened to the soccer poets speak lyrically about it, and given it more second chances than all the active career leaders in second chances (Darryl Strawberry, Diego Maradona and Robert Downey Jr.) have received combined.
I even cheered and wept with laughter when Sylvester Stallone and Pelé (the world’s oddest pairing before Michael Jackson trumped them by marrying Elvis’ kid) combined to somehow defeat the Nazis with their feet in what remains the most unintentionally uproarious sports movie ever made.
But that was a Victory for all of us, really.
I know South Florida cares more about soccer than any other area in the United States, by far, so I went all the way to Uruguay once just to see a single goal scored. I did this without realizing our summer is Uruguay’s winter, which is how I came to be walking the frozen streets in shorts and a golf shirt, warmed only by the whispers of strangers who kept quite accurately calling me ``estúpido.‘’
This is what I get called now, too, when I have the audacity to blow past the beloved and forever-referenced soccer ‘‘nuances’’ I allegedly don’t understand and go straight to either yawning or snoring.
This is men in shorts kicking a ball – people, not abstract art. Just because I don’t like the nuances of soccer doesn’t mean I don’t understand them. I don’t like asparagus, either, and it isn’t because I fail to grasp the vegetable’s nuances.
You say soccer is a mixture of ballet and chess? I say you don’t see Americans watching ballet and chess on television, either.
And they certainly wouldn’t watch if for some reason you combined them (though they might tune in the first time, like they did with the XFL, just to see if there would be a bench-clearing brawl between ballerinas).
Throw in some strippers, a member of either Tony Soprano's or Ozzy Osbourne's family and the occasional goal, and then maybe we'll watch.
I’ve studied everything in soccer from the Brazilian bikinis in the stands to the Vlade Divac-like flopping that produces more bad acting than a thousand Keanu Reeves movies, and what I’m left with is the very worst feeling in sports.
It isn’t hatred or anger or an anti-soccer sentiment, all of which would at least suggest passion of some sort. It is indifference, profound and unalterable, no matter how much I see Brazil’s samba-style soccer and hear about players so fast they only have time for first names (though, admittedly, the bikinis do muster something that vaguely resembles passion).
Soccer lovers keep saying that, well, baseball is boring, too. That’s the kind of logic that is going to make Americans tune in to the World Cup en masse. New soccer slogan to captivate our country: Watch soccer! It’s only as boring as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays!
While baseball can drag, at least the baseball fan raving about the excitement in a 1-0 game is doing so because the 1-0 game is a rarity, an heirloom. The 1-0 game in soccer is, well, soccer.
Here are the scores of the past six World Cup games: 1-0, 1-0, 1-0, 1-0, 0-0 and, in the soccer equivalent of a 47-46 baseball game, Brazil blew out England 2-1.
So when you do the math on all the quarterfinal and semifinal World Cup games played in the past four years, your average score is exactly 1-0.
When this sort of stuff started happening in baseball, we didn't complain about fans not understanding the ''nuances'' of the game. No, what we did was immediately lower the pitching mound.
Soccer has added the shootout, which is certainly exciting enough, but makes as much sense as deciding the Super Bowl in overtime by having the quarterbacks throw the football through a swinging tire.
This is when the soccer zealots start castigating Americans for not understanding what the rest of the world does, and accusing us of typically bloated American arrogance. But, sorry, all we’ve done is evolved athletically.
So many of the countries in this tournament have had soccer, and only soccer, since the ball was an actual human skull. But we’ve since added football and basketball, which are basically soccer with violence and more scoring.
If other countries had these things at the very highest level, like we do, perhaps they, too, would prefer sports that involve using your hands.
I know this time of year is very exciting for soccer fans, especially with the Brazil-Germany final coming Sunday, and I don’t begrudge them that excitement. I just wish they wouldn’t keep trying to stuff their sport down my throat, telling me that it is about to catch on here.
It isn’t, OK? For all the record audiences it had for a burst, the U.S. women’s soccer movement hasn’t carried that momentum into anything meaningful. Far as I can tell, the one thing helped most by Brandi Chastain was Brandi Chastain.
It’s perfectly OK to love soccer and think it is the world’s greatest game, of course.
Just don’t ever expect to see America agree.