Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Beavis and Butthead

I used to argue that soccer was as anti-evolution as our current president, given that its primary rule involves the illegality of using one's hands, the skill that most separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. It's perverse.

But over the past few years, among the Euro-wannabes in New York, I've been forced to reconsider my view a bit. The fact is, I still think soccer of any brand below absolutely top-flight is dull, but when played by the best of the best, it can be thrilling in its way.

I followed the World Cup a bit, and took in the final with several other viewers at a friend's apartment (where I had to listen to most of them belittle baseball for being boring and pointless -- these are soccer fans!) A few at the party also said they couldn't imagine soccer players were dumber than baseball players, and while it's true that those on the diamond can be pretty thick upstairs...
Other freak injuries include Atlanta pitcher John Smoltz's scalding himself by ironing a shirt he was wearing, and then-Toronto outfielder Glenallen Hill's crashing into a glass table while having a nightmare about being covered in spiders.
...it's hard to believe any of them are worse than Italy's Marco Materazzi, who will likely go down as soccer's most famous head-buttee after being dramatically decked by Zinedine Zidane's cranium in Sunday's final. A lip-reader is claiming that the headbutt (insane no matter what provoked it) came after Materazzi called Zidane, whose parents are Algerian, "the son of a terrorist whore."

Materazzi's response:
I did insult him, it’s true. But I categorically did not call him a terrorist. I’m not cultured and I don’t even know what an Islamic terrorist is.
And baseball players are the dumb ones? Of course, it's hard to believe anyone is uncultured enough to not know what an Islamic terrorist is, especially someone cultured enough to use the word "categorically."

With shenanigans like the headbutt, and such great ensuing quotes to the press, it's a shame the tournament's over. It's also a shame because a colleague of mine was blogging the event at Deadspin and, as you can tell from this, he was doing a bang-up job.


Anonymous dfox3 said...

Enjoyed the commentary on the game from Deadspin. As one radio sportscaster spewed during a call in session, mid world cup, about America and soccer, "so what's the big deal?! We've got our sports and they've got thiers. We just don't like soccer! So what's the big deal?!" I couldn't have put it better. For thirty years, since the big soccer craze of the seventies, I have watched the U.S. start and stumble, sputter and spit, as it tried to put together a response to the worlds largest obsession. The lackluster showing of our national team this time around shows us how little progress we've made. And that's just fine with me. Don't get me wrong. I have more respect for soccer than any other team sport. Those who know me would never mistake me for a sports fan, but every four years for a month you couldn't tell me apart from those mad people who show up in March. I think it's just fine that America will never get with the rest of the world on this one. I love it that Ghana can send us home. We may dominate economically, we may demand lock-step democracy, we may export "culture", but we can't even begin to play the beautiful game. So what's the big deal?!

9:55 AM  

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