Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Cup Approaches

Like most Americans, soccer inspires in me a feeling of deep, deep sleepiness. But I also have a theory that soccer is anti-human. After all, to insist that players aren’t allowed to use their hands is particularly perverse when you consider the importance of the opposable thumb in human (and cultural) evolution. To not be allowed to use your hands is to be kept from being fully human.

The one time I let my guard down and gave soccer a fair (or fair-ish) chance was during the 2006 World Cup. I was working at the time for HarperCollins, on the same floor as soccer fanatic and proselytizer David Hirshey. I watched a couple of games in David’s office, and once accompanied him to a pub at lunch time for another. The knowledgeable enthusiasm of someone else helped, as did the level of play. For the first time, I understood why one might be a soccer fan. But soon after, I happily resumed my slumber.

Now, it’s almost World Cup time again. David has co-written a book that serves as both a history of the event and a preview of this year’s tourney. There was a brief moment the other day when I considered studying up a little and then attempting to get involved with the games, maybe going to a series of local international pubs and writing a series of dispatches about the experience. (If the 100 movies list is the only organizing conceit for this blog in the coming weeks, then lord help me.) I’m less high on the idea as of the moment, but we’ll see.

In the meantime, enjoy the video below, which shows part of a recent game that pitted the pro club Athletic Bilbao against a group of 100 kids. The kids’ team was made up of 100 players for the first half, and a different set of 100 kids for the second half. As one news outlet put it: “The 20,000 crowd, and most of the players, struggled to keep track of the ball as the La Liga superstars’ rigid 4-4-2 diamond formation was swamped by the youngsters’ 20-60-17 headless chicken system.” The video is shaky, but very much worth watching. This looks like tremendous fun:


Blogger Dezmond said...

Who won the game?

7:10 AM  
Blogger JMW said...

The pros, 5-3.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Barbara Carlson said...

And if you are a clever little lad -- as my husband would say of his school days at his British school -- you never have to get involved with the ball. The trick is to look eager as hell, though.

He has no time for sports but we advidly watch the Olympics, it being the best of the best of the best.

Quite inhuman, really. He thinks before each event, keen people in the stands should be chosen at random to get out on the field and try to do it. Then we'd all see how really difficult it is.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

That is delightful mayhem.

9:09 PM  

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