Friday, June 16, 2006

The Game of Our Lives

Yes I'm still alive.

I'd like to give a great explanation as to my whereabouts for the last three weeks, but I'm going to have to stop short of giving away everything right now. I was on vacation in HIlton Head, SC with my family from the period known as June 3-10, A.S. (After Shareholders). And after that, I had some, uh, business to attend to out of town. Needless to say, there might be some large developments on the horizon for The Bride and I. Pins and needles all over the place, I'm sure.

AP photograph

The other thing I was tending to this week, was the mass watching of television during World Cup 2006. I shamelessly watched for large chunks of time at work, scheduled breaks and lunches to coincide with matches, managing to watch a ridiculous amount of soccer during times (the AM) when I should have been doing other things. I think I prefered the schedule during the 2002 Cup in Korea/Japan when I could just wake up at random times at night to watch crucial matches. There's nothing quite like waking up at 3 in the morning 25 minutes into the opening US-Portugal match to see the US already up two goals over the heavily-favored Luis Figos.

So tomorrow will be more of the same: Iran v. Portugal as soon as I wake up at 8, Ghana and the Czechs, and then.....the most important US soccer game in recent memory versus Italy. It's basically win or go home, with the US side needing a win to have a decent chance of advancing out of group play.

Let's just stop right now, and get all the soccer-bashing out of the way. No, you can't use your hands. Yes, matches can end in ties. Yes, fans of some other countries are insane. Yes, it's just a ball being bounced around a field for 90 minutes. Yes, players dive occcasionally, trying to earn a foul. Yes, world-famous soccer players are prima donnas. (and you're favorite NBA player isn't?)

Just go ahead and get all the predictable remarks out of the way. Try saying some of them out loud to yourself right now. Just get it out of your system.

I've already heard nearly every complaint possible from co-workers as the World Cup plays constantly on the TV at work. I still can't figure out why it makes some people I know so angry that people like soccer. I don't particularly care for hockey (except for the olympics), but I don't feel the need to make fun of it every single time someone is watching it or talking about it. Is it some sort of insecurity that runs rampant?

My boss has proved himself incapable of walking past the World Cup on TV without coming up with some oh-so-predictable comment about the "silliness" of soccer. Today, he was indignant that we couldn't find 15 guys (random number, I guess) who could go over to Germany and kick a ball in the goal more times than the opponent. I sarcastically told him that our soccer players have to fight against a nation full of people with ignorant attitudes like his for their whole lives; so that when the matches roll around, they're a little tired.

AP photograph

If you think soccer is silly, or don't like it, why in the world must you say something about it EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU PASS THE TV. Why would someone spend so much energy talking about something they don't care about? It's kind of like the guy you know who goes out of his way to tell you over and over again that he is most certainly NOT GAY and very much into having sexual relations with women. Do you suspect anything about that guy?

I have no agenda to make everyone in this country love watching soccer. I happen to love it. That's just me. But why in the world does everyone have to get angry at me because I like it?

The good news is that everyone around here has not had their world decimated by the World Cup being on TV. The guys at the fiveforty live-blogged the first (forgettable) US match, and might do it again tomorrow, so check it out. They've had regular updates on the other games as well.

I guess I'll be watching tomorrow's match against Italy in the comfort and safety of my own home, where I will be offending and hurting no one.

AP photograph


A note: The US is playing Saturday in Kaiserslautern, which is just down the road from 50,000 US military personnel at Ramstein AFB. Here's a fantastic article about the impact of this game on those folks. Well worth a read.