I know this because ESPN has been telling me for months that I’m supposed to be excited about it. So, if I’m not, there must be something wrong with me. (Or, as the case may be, there’s something else wrong with me.)
On Friday, the front page of ESPN.com asked us all, “Do you have goosebumps?”
Unless the range of emotions that induce horripilation (yes, Tiki taught me that one) now includes boredom, the answer to the question is hell and no.
A friend of mine once decided that he would begin to slather mustard on all of his sandwiches despite his aversion to its taste because, as he explained it, the millions of people who like mustard can’t be wrong. And after gagging through two bites of a hamburger, he decided that, indeed, they were all wrong.
With this force-feeding of futbol by the Worldwide Leader in Hype, we’re all supposed to conclude that the rest of the world can’t be wrong, and that we should embrace a game that, through the first few days, has featured scintillating outcomes like 1-1, 0-0, 1-0, 1-1, 1-0, and 1-0.
While some may claim that we tolerate hockey games that end with similar 1-0, 0-0, and 1-1 outcomes, the two sports have one dramatic difference. In hockey, the puck routinely finds itself in position to enter the goal; play-by-play man extraordinaire Mike Emrick manages to make his audience keenly aware of every such instance. In soccer, it’s a lot of open-field running and kicking and running and kicking that rarely results in anything worth actually witnessing.
Said one NFL source regarding the World Cup, “I hope DeMaurice Smith
isn’t watching it. He might ask for 70 percent if this is our
competition. It’s like watching Ultimate Frisbee played with feet.”
Maybe that’s why they blow those damn horns for every moment of every game. It gives the fans something to do while waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting for something to actually happen on the field of play.
So now we even better understand the NFL’s desire to export true football to other countries. Once they realize that we’ve whipped together a condiment that tastes a hell of a lot better than mustard, our football — American football — will rule the world.
Our message then, to those of you who are falling victim to ESPN’s effort to link watching the World Cup to fundamental notions of apple pie and Chevrolet, the true patriot would rebel against the breathless Bristol narratives invoking a 60-year-old U.S.-England match of which only a small handful of us had ever even heard and somehow tying it all back to the American Revolution.
Right now, we need to do two things to our mother country, neither of which entails beating the Brits at the sport they inexplicably love. First, we need to compel one of their biggest corporations to PLUG UP THAT DAMN HOLE.
That one bears repeating. PLUG UP THAT DAMN HOLE.
Second, we need to continue to show them how a real sport is played.