Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Pestilence

There exists a most virulent strain of pathogen that has victimized most of the world. Happily, our fair nation has yet to contract this vile disease in any major way. Yet there are those who, every four years or so, come out of the woodwork to loudly decry our immunity and wish that we Americans would join the rest of the world by succumbing to this insidious ague.

I am, of course, talking about soccer.

During the World Cup years, we are inevitably subjected to those "enlightened" global citizens who wear their love of soccer in much the same way the nazi SS wore swastika armbands.

DISCLAIMER: No, I am not comparing people who like soccer to nazis, so don't even go there. Well, not all of them anyway.

These people alternately decry America's refusal to get enthusiastic about this stultifyingly boring game and then boldly predict that this will be the year that the blinders will fall from our eyes, and the sport will take fire in our national heart.

And then the World Cup ends and everybody forgets about big time soccer for another four years.

The reasons why soccer is so boring can be elusive. Soccer fans always point to the non-stop "action" and ubiquitous close games. Detractors seem to be at a loss - maybe it has something to do with an overlarge field, the permitted use of only a small percentage of body parts or all those scoreless ties.

Or perhaps it's not the game itself. Maybe most Americans are turned off to soccer qua spectator sport because many of the game's ambassadors seem to be such elitist twits:

The world of the World Cup is the one I want to live in. I cannot resist its United Nations-like pageantry and high-mindedness, the apolitical display of national characteristics, the revelation of deep human flaws and unexpected greatnesses, the fact that entire nations walk off the job or wake up at 3 a.m. to watch men kick a ball. There are countries that have truly multiracial squads-France, England, and the United States-while other teams are entirely blond or Asian or Latin American. A Slovakian tire salesman, an Italian cop, or a German concert pianist-having passed the official fitness tests-will moonlight as referee. There are irritating fans: "U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" (Blessedly few.)

I find it interesting that the example he cites for irritating fans are those from this country that shout a positive chant in support of their team (as opposed to negative jeering of the opposing team like your typical Philadelphian), rather than, oh say, fans who beat each other to a bloody pulp with uprooted stadium seats and 2x4s while the game is in progress. You know: the kind of fans that made soccer famous?

So I say to all you soccer bobos: Don't bother trying to infect me with your soccer mononucleosis! I'm quite occupied with treating my baseball fever, my football flu, my basketball infection and my hockey sucking chest wound. I am immune to your vile disease.

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