Sunday, July 9, 2006

The World Cup Final


The World Cup is coming to an end today, as France and Italy battle for soccer's supremecy.  Should be a great game with all the fare that should become of Cup Final.

Still not sure if I'm gonna watch it.  Just like the running gag in "American Psycho"....I gotta return some video tapes [I really gotta return some at Hollywood Video]. 

Again, that's the bad American in me.  I've talked about the World Cup a bit here...some bad, some good.  No, I don't really like soccer.  And, no, I really don't ever care to.  I have the same complaints that every other non-soccer fan has:  low scoring, boring, the flopping only to sprint off a minute later [that's where Vlade Divac got it from!] and the worst offsides rule of all time. 

I've ripped the penalty kick shootout [that little blog entry was mentioned on Friday's "Cold Pizza" on ESPN2].  I'm also not a fan of the whole "score a goal and then sit on it the rest of the game" strategy.  Get rid of running up to somebody and showing them a card.  Ugh.  And I'm not a fan of that whole "extra injury time" which is just kept as sort of a neat ending [just stop the freakin' clock!]. 

Of course, those can all be bad complaints.  As Americans, we watch NASCAR which features three hours of left turns and stops at the Jiffy Lube wedged in there.  I know, I know...there is strategy buried in all that, but soccer has as well.  While you can bash soccer for being "slow" is a constant game with a running clock.  Baseball, America's pastime, has no clock and could look like a bunch of people standing around all day. 

Flopping??  Well, anyone who's watched an NBA game over the last 10 years has seen plenty of flopping.  The biggest defensive adjustment in the last decade is running to a spot so someone can run you over.  Sell it enough...and you got it!  And the greatest-player-of-the-moment in the NBA....Dwayne Wade....has gotten the "I'm so hurt that I may not play but then I score 40 points" speil down cold.

The cards given out is nothing odd when you think in the NFL we throw flags everywhere.  Little yellow hankys.  And we thought the French were fluffly. 

And the injury time....well, that sucks and I don't see that in American sport.

But the World Cup itself it a great event.  I have always marveled about how big in stature it is.  It has all of the things that the Olympics wish it could have.  Real nationalism.  Sure, Italy can play France in anything in the Olympics and it won't be a pressurized as today's game.  And these countries share a border and aren't too far from where the game will be played [Berlin].  I mean, think how goofy we are about the Super Bowl....and that comes every year with just a two week buildup.  The World Cup happens just once every four years with tons of buildup in between.  The Olympics, which tries to cultivate that, can't.  Neither can we.  Either we dominate in a sport so much that a "world cup" is just a vehicle to show our dominance....or we stink at it that we just don't care [read: this World Cup].  And if the FIBA hoops games show us is that when we don't win those things wish we should dominate, we start not to care anymore either. 

The goal scoring celebrations are the best.....and don't say they are horrible.  This is America....where home runs get patented trots.....touchdowns have pre-meditated dances....NBA "and ones" get screams, yells and mean looks....and hockey goals get a sweet one legged, fist pumping skate until the team tackles you and slaps your head.  Imagine back to your high school days.  Imagine if you hit the game winning shot....hit the game winning home run....or made the game winning drive.  You'd be a god at your school.  Teachers and student would pat your back and show you love for quite some time.  Imagine an entire country doing that.  Someone will be that guy after today's game. 

It's beautiful.  To hear the majestic sounds of fans in the crown screaming out songs of patriotism.  You think we'd do that??  Most of us barely know all the words to "Star Spangled Banner".  And our best sing-songs in the crowd are "over-rated", "de-fense", "here we go, blah blah, here we go" and the gracious "BS" chant. 

I love the NFL and all is spectacle.  The tailgating before the game and brotherhood [and sisterhood] is something special.  Then the love people give those teams and the wildness that goes on in NFL stadiums are great.  But that isn't a sliver of what the World Cup is.  The NFL's greatest event, the Super Bowl, is a stadium filled with people of influence and many who don't have a dog in the fight.  Same thing in the NCAA's Final Four.  Today, it will be as rocking as you will see for any event....both ways. 

I still may not watch it.  But I understand it. 

For a great preview of the game...go to: ESPNsoccernet - World Cup - Chang: World Cup final preview

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