Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 9, 2006
By: Zachary Roth

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT...For those of you with any interest in the greatest sporting ever created, check out Goalpost, The New Republic's World Cup blog. In terms of flair and creativity, they've assembled the soccer-writing equivalent of the famed Brazil 1970 team, and even non-soccer fans will enjoy the dubious socio-political-athletic theorizing and crude national stereotyping that World Cup writing always encourages. Plus, I'll be contributing some on-the-scene reporting live from Germany starting next week. The first game kicks off in two hours, but Goalpost is already going strong...

Zachary Roth 10:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Another 90 minutes of waiting and then I am off to here:

http://www.ploughandstars.com/

Real football fans (soccer for some weird people) watch the game in a pub!

Posted by: Commenterlein on June 9, 2006 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

you are lucky commenter--that was my favorite place to watch matches. It's going to be packed.

have the people at goalpost stopped bloviating about loving England and living in Europe yet? They come off as crap pseudo-intellectuals. I mean, it is TNR, but come on....

Posted by: colin on June 9, 2006 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Portugual!

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 9, 2006 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

BO-ring! [/Homer]

I'm sorry - I've tried, but I simply cannot see the reason for the mass appeal soccer (oops, I mean "football") has. It's played on a field bigger than some of the countries who play it, it takes half a day to move the ball down the field only to see it kicked all the way back down the other way. Scoring happens about as often as liberals get elected President.

It is like watching paint drying. Sorry.

Posted by: Alek Hidell on June 9, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Alek, it takes time to see the beauty of it. Luckily, that time can be spent in the pub.

Posted by: craigie on June 9, 2006 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Now I've always found it rather perverse that Soccer is the world's most popular sport. I mean, a sport where you can't use your hands? Come on-- what seperates us from the animals? That's right: our opposable thumbs. Any number of animals can play Soccer, because (almost) all of them have legs-- but I'd like to see antelopes try to play Basketball, Tennis or Golf! If you played Soccer exlusively while balancing on your hands, then I might give it a pass, but until that day comes, Soccer has no business being the world's most popular sport.

Posted by: Fudley on June 9, 2006 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Go Togo! To - Go - To - Go - To - Go!

Posted by: Mysticdog on June 9, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

I can only hope that Martin Peretz meets the same fate as Zarqawi and has his dead battered face shown all over the world on television.

Posted by: on June 9, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Azzurri!!!!

Posted by: tsquared on June 9, 2006 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Brasil!!! zil zil zil

Posted by: enozinho on June 9, 2006 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Last world cup final I was in a bar in Florianopolis, Brazil. It was 6am or something, so it was breakfast and free beer for everyone. Globo (the big brazilian tv station) interviewed the two poor German supporters at the bar. Then everyone filed out for a party downtown of about 40k people, in a city of 300k. What a day!

Posted by: enozinho on June 9, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Give me baseball 100 times out of 100 over international football. Now there is a sport where even when nothing is going on, the tense battle between pitcher and catcher can end in any of a hundred different way. It's 2:45 minutes of hardcore tension, and nothing on God's green earth could ever have been created better. In baseball, we have a glimpse of not only geometric and logical perfection, but a bit of the sublime spiritual that the human soul (if we have them) is born from.

Our legacy to the universe will be baseball and I for one and I am ready to admit that it will be the greatest.

It could be worse though, it could be cricket!

Posted by: MNPundit on June 9, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Baseball and "the sublime spiritual".

You're sounding like interviews I've heard with WP Kinsella [Field of Dreams].

Me, I hit the ballpark 3 times per summer, and I've been one too many times.

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 9, 2006 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

What I think most casual American fans don't realize is how corrupt and dirty international soccer is. It is deepy ironic that being a soccer fan has somehow become a badge of "progressive values" in the US. We're a talking about a sport that was glorified by fascists like Mussolini in the 1930s, brings out the worst sort of nationalist ya-hooism among European tribes, and whose prominent teams are owned by semi-legitimate organized crime types like Berlusconi and Abramovich. The players are mostly semi-literate drunken louts. Refs are routinely bought off - you will never see calls as flagrantly bad in American football or basketball as you will in an international soccer match. There is very little competitive balance at the national level, it is a rich man's game - the Premier League standings this year correspond exactly to the dollars spent by each team. Other than the fact that poor people are basically forced to play soccer because it is a game you can play with very little equipment there is not much to recommend it from a liberal point of view. I'll take the socialist cooperative values of the NFL any day.

Posted by: Vanya on June 9, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

MNPundit, truly a well written post (says the guy whose team won on a wild pitch last night--yech), but you have to allow that while you can eloquently describe the merits of that most sublime of sports, appreciation of these merits is predicated on a fairly detailed knowledge of baseball. And therein lies soccer fans' rebuttal. All I have to do is watch soccer with one of my friends who's actually taken the time to watch (or play) the game a lot and I have a much better experience of it.

Having said that, I think one other place where baseball surpasses other sports is getting to go to a good yard in the height of summer, with friends, and cheer your team. But in fairness to soccer the truly international breadth of the competition is quite cool.

Oh and one thing I would add to your post (though it applies to soccer as well): beer!

Posted by: cyntax on June 9, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

It seems strange to have to say this on an American site. Go USA. Dont Tread on ME! (support your country people (and whoever's playing mexico))

Posted by: DTOM on June 9, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

I always find it amusing to hear Americans complain that soccer is boring and too slow when they apparently are happy to watch sports that last over three hours with only a third of that time containing, you know, any actual sporting activity.

Posted by: LondonLee on June 9, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK


TNR still searching for some sort of relevance: okay, we were spectacularly wrong about Iraq, we support Democrats who aren't Democrats...we've shown ourselves to be hideously out-of-touch Beltway narcicists, but...umm...oh yeah! SOCCER!!!

I personally have no interest in reading anything associated with this dismal publication, and I'll get my international sporting fix somewhere else, thankyou.

Posted by: pfd on June 9, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Germany just beat Costa Rica - my first victory in a long road ahead to winning the office pool

Posted by: Botecelli on June 9, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

All sports are, of course, boring to watch, other than the blood sports like boxing and auto racing where there is some actual risk of serious bodily injury or death.

With soccer its a bit of a "chicken and egg" problem. If you don't care who wins, well, its just another game you don't care about.

However, if you do decide to care who wins, its a great game to watch. Unlike some other U.S. sports (say, the NBA) there is a place for actual defense. This means that underdog teams can and do win. (Thank goodness for this aspect otherwise the U.S. team really would have no chance). The two 45 minute halves with no stopping of play are great, the perfect length.

Finally, the "low scoring" is the best feature. As the "scoring" of any game is completely arbitrary, the only issue is how does the way in which the score is kept relate to the game. In soccer, most games are not decided until the final whistle. Thus, the large numbers of 1-0, or 2-1 games make look like "low scoring" games to the uninitiated, but to the fans they are edge of your seat nail-biting masterpieces.

Posted by: hank on June 9, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

one thing's fer sure:

Vanya talking about soccer is like the pope talking about sex

Posted by: novakant on June 9, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Alex Hiddel nails it!

It's absolutely true that "it takes half a day to move the ball down the field", and this accounts for the fact that soccer, unlike American football, is populated by 300-lb linemen.

Let's see, how many times did Poland move the ball down the field vs Ecuador today? Surely no more than once or twice! And how long did the typical Ecuadorian counterattack take to move the ball from one end of the field to the other? Surely several hours! And surely they did this by simply kicking the ball 80 or 90 yards in the air, rather than, you know, passing rapidly from the middle of the field to the wing, then crossing the ball back to the other side of the field.

Are you honestly of the opinion that World Cup soccer resembles some youth league game featuring teams of 4-year-olds? Good point! And the table tennis, volleyball and badminton games you play in your basement or your back yard look exactly the same as those games when contested by some of the best athletes in the world, who've been honing their skills for years.

Here's a suggestion, if you think World Cup soccer really consists of holding the ball almost motionless in one end of the field, before eventually booting it down to the other end of the field, maybe it's time you "tried" again. Neh?

I'm sorry - I've tried, but I simply cannot see the reason for the mass appeal soccer (oops, I mean "football") has. It's played on a field bigger than some of the countries who play it, it takes half a day to move the ball down the field only to see it kicked all the way back down the other way. Scoring happens about as often as liberals get elected President.
Posted by: Alek Hidell on June 9, 2006 at 11:14 AM

Posted by: keith on June 9, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

Germany just beat Costa Rica...

There are those of us who, because of jobs and/or time-zone differences, can only watch "encore" broadcasts in the evening. I, personally, would rather not know the outcome of any match beforehand.

Maybe there won't be any more soccer posts here (does Kevin like the game?) but I'll make this friendly request anyway. Those of you who are lucky enough to watch the game live, please don't announce or discuss the results until, say, the next day.

Thanks.

Posted by: exasperanto on June 9, 2006 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

TNR?

No thanks.

Posted by: luci on June 10, 2006 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: biu on June 10, 2006 at 4:39 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry - I've tried, but I simply cannot see the reason for the mass appeal soccer (oops, I mean "football") has. It's played on a field bigger than some of the countries who play it, it takes half a day to move the ball down the field only to see it kicked all the way back down the other way. Scoring happens about as often as liberals get elected President.

It is like watching paint drying. Sorry.

I'm as avid a baseball fan as anybody (still recuperating from the Nats' 12-inning win over the Phillies), but I have to disagree with the statement about low-scoring soccer games being unexciting. They admittedly could be if the teams played it close to the vest, but if there is up-and-down action and a number of serious scoring threats, then that's a well-played game to watch.

I'll give you a hockey analogy to prove my point. Several years ago, the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils played to a scoreless tie. Was it dull? Anything but. Two of the game's best goaltenders, Dominik Hasek and Martin Brodeur, were each making plenty of superb saves. Just because the game was scoreless doesn't diminish how well played it was.

Posted by: Vincent on June 10, 2006 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Soccer has the same problem that the NHL is now trying to overcome with rule changes; it is too easy for the athletically inferior team to play defense, thus robbing the spectator of the fun of watching superior athletes excel at what they do. Yes, the games are closer as a result, but for those who really want to watch the best athletes practice their craft, watching inferior athletes keep a game close, due to the nature of the game, is often not entertaining. The widespread popularity of the game owes much to tradition, the fact that poor people can easily play it, and the fact that until very recently, the overwhelming majority of people on earth have been poor.

I won't defend the NBA, given how too many games in the regular season ignore teamwork, but it is ignorant to claim that basketball at the highest level lacks defense. To be attracted to watching baseball is a little similar to being attracted to watching golf; it helps to have played the game, and thus have an appreciation of how exceedingly difficult it is to hit a well-thrown pitch. Without an appreciation of the nature of the pitcher/hitter confrontation, like not having an appreciation of how difficult it is to hit a three iron to a small green in a 15 m.p.h. crosswind, baseball, like golf, is often going to be a boring spectator sport.

To enjoy American football, like enjoying boxing, one must enjoy the violence.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 10, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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