Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Why I Love the World Cup...

...though I didn't see even a minute of this year's tournament. Bill Simmons (aka The Sports Guy) nails it in his article. Excerpt:
Soccer, it turns out, is the perfect sport to watch while you're doing other things. Maybe it's that constant soothing sound, a never-ending din of cheering and singing in strange languages. Maybe it's that you only have to glance at the TV every so often. Whenever something seems like it might happen, the play-by-play guy warns you with the rise in his energy level. There's always time to catch a play before it unfolds … even though it usually ends with some exhausted striker rocketing the ball 25 feet over the crossbar. Maybe it's that you know what you're getting every time out: six or seven exciting plays, a game that ends at a specific time, no annoying sideline reporters or goofy camera angles. All in all, a peaceful two hours of competition.

[...]

2. These games feel like life or death. No, really. When the Colombian defender was murdered after 1994's World Cup, the stakes were set: Screw up and you may die. You can see it on everyone's face. After Argentina's OT goal, the shell-shocked coach of Mexico looked as if he'd gotten a terminal diagnosis from his doctor. I half expected him to start hastily scribbling a will. For most of the countries involved, soccer is the equivalent of baseball + football + basketball here, if those sports came around only one month every four years. You can feel the tension. It's suffocating. The winners are relieved, the losers decimated. There's no in-between.
Read the whole thing. Maybe there will be a GoogleVideo of all the best plays and goals of the tournament soon. Wouldn't that be cool - the World Cup in half an hour!

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