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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

question of the weekend: What is this World Cup of which everyone speaks?

Just kidding. I know what football is. It’s the best sport ever, because it’s the most popular sport on the planet but no one in the U.S. cares about it, so I don’t have to hear about it.

Most of the time, anyway. Even here in America, it’s currently hard to avoid news of the World Cup. My English cousin was trying to get me interested, because it seems that U.S.A is playing England today, and this is some sort of big deal. (And leave it to the New York Post to be massive jerks about it, calling the game a “‘toxic’ grudge match” and “Revolutionary War, Round 2,” because it’s actually a metaphoric battle over BP spilling oil in the Gulf of Mexico, apparently.)

Anyway, consider this an open thread to talk about the World Cup. Do you watch only those games your nation is playing? Do you watch in a party situation or alone? What’s the appeal of football/soccer in the first place?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD/QOTW, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTW sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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  • Orangutan

    I got hooked into the World Cup last time around, and I’ve been really looking forward to this year’s.

    I root for the States, of course, but since past history has shown me that we never really do THAT well, I end up pulling for one of the other teams. Last Cup I was backing the Socceroos, and probably will be again if they last longer than the US. Mostly because I just love that they call themselves the Socceroos. :)

    Because of the schedule, I will watch any game that’s on when I’m not at work or asleep. I count myself lucky that the USA-England match is today, since it’s one I really wanted to see. I’d love to watch in a group, since any sporting event is WAY more fun that way, but I’m the only fan in my circle of friends.

  • doa766

    in most of the world, during the world cup month, hospital admisions related to cardiac problems are triple than usual

    Argentina is playing, it’s half time now and there’s NO ONE on the streets, everything stops, when Heinze scored the first goal is was like a national orgasm, you have to live on country with football tradition to understand

  • Mo

    Definitely looking forward to the England/US game. I always try to watch when England is playing (sorry Americans) and have been for years now for the big tournaments. Football (yeah, plenty of term confusion there) is one of the only 2-team sports I can really get into.

    I think the great thing about football/soccer is that it’s like the punk rock of sports in a way- much like anyone can try to pick up a guitar, bash out 3 messy chords, and call it music, soccer is at it’s core a very simple instinctive game that people with no skill and literally nothing- just a ball made of scavenged bags and some twine or something- can play on a whim. Get the ball between those two sticks in the ground.

    It’s a game you can dream about. Around here, there are countless kids pretending that their winning goal in a road hockey game is the final of the Stanley Cup, but you have to imagine ice and that you’re skating and so on- different skills than you’re using on pavement. With soccer if you have a ball and a green-ish place to play and you score, that’s the same as the world cup. You’re using all the same skills as your favorite player, just the players at the world cup are leagues above you in those skills in a tangible way. If your team scores you can appreciate exactly what went into that goal. I think that for people (and kids!) who love the game there’s something very powerful and direct about that that links them into the game in a way other games can’t. Let that connection spill over into your national culture, and everyone gets sucked in.

  • Becky

    I know ‘hate’ is too strong a word for describing how I feel but… that’s getting close how I feel about all the football shenannigans at the moment.

    It’s all the media seem to be talking about. Everything ‘stops’ for a month – no ‘big’ films until mid-July, no ‘good’ TV (Doctor Who is safe but may get moved around the schedules come the series finale because England *may* have a ‘big’ game at the same time) and to be honest, I don’t give a rats bottom!

    Okay, I will cheer if France go home early (mainly because they are at the tourney because they beat the Irish by cheating – why yes, I am half Irish, does it show?!) but other than that – no interest *at all*.

    Yes, England can be the best in the world on a good day – if we’re talking Rugby Union or Cricket. Football? Don’t make me laugh!

    Thank the ‘verse for DVDs!

  • Don’t care that much for football, but i kind of looking forward to the Friday and Saturday evening showings of the games in my usual pub. They are always rather nice.

  • Orangutan

    Okay, I will cheer if France go home early (mainly because they are at the tourney because they beat the Irish by cheating – why yes, I am half Irish, does it show?!) but other than that – no interest *at all*.

    I’m damn near full-blooded Irish, now I know who to root AGAINST. Thanks for the heads up, Becky! :D

  • misterb

    As always, the Onion reports the news:

    I’m certainly a big enough fan to watch games that don’t involve the US, but some of the games start at 4:00 am here on the West Coast of the US, and I’m not that big a fan.

  • hdj

    USA does a horrible job backing the whole world cup. Its still not reported on the level of coverage that the NBA finals and the Stanley cup, heck event college sports gets more coverage. There are soccer leagues all over the USA,(MLS)major league soccer,big money goes into these hunks of concrete called soccer domes but whos going, if these domes packed up like Yankee stadium then I’d say the sport pays for it self.
    But they don’t,
    hate to be a negatron for those excited for big match up but sports are better when everyones betting the odds and advantages, everyone knows the names of the players, and big mobs getting in each others face ,like constant ” your going down you limey bitches” ” what do you know about football you wanker you call it soccer”

  • Bill

    I played a little soccer when i was a kid, but watching it is a chore. And it can’t be escaped. It is everywhere. I can’t wait for it to wrap up. So, yeah, I have no idea what the appeal is.

  • Lisa

    AS OF RIGHT NOW England 1 USA 1

    C’mon USA!

  • Orangutan

    Gonna be a loooong month for you, Bill. :)

  • Lisa

    Like you, Bill, I played football when I was a kid but I grew out of it. Yeah it is gonna be a long month. People are obssessed with it. It’s the time of year when the government announces things like “In order to deal with the deficit, we have decided to euthanize 20% of the people over 60 and 10% of people under 16,” and get away with it because nobody is paying attention. In saying that, it’s worth watching sometimes, especially when England only draw with USA. YES!YES!YES! Slap it into them!

  • JT

    Whooo, we tied England :-)

    I played soccer from first grade through to my senior year of high school (which was not very long ago), and although I don’t follow any professional leagues, I do love watching the world cup. Soccer, well played, is just a beautiful thing to watch. It’s hard to explain why–I think it’s hard to explain the appeal of any sport to someone who doesn’t “get” it. Watching baseball, for instance, bores me; but I know a lot of people who feel the same way about soccer.

    Anyway, the World Cup = awesome. It all feels particularly epic, and even if some part of my brain knows that it and all other sporting events are really quite meaningless and a wonderful way to opiate the masses I just don’t care. Go USA!

  • I grew up in a Latin American country, and it’s hard to shake off World Cup Fever, even though I don’t follow soccer at any other time anymore. There’s just something cool about countries competing so directly and decisively; a feeling that I don’t even get from the Olympics, where competition is spread across many events and it doesn’t all advance towards a giant finale.

    So, yes, I’m following the games very closely this month, writing down stats and whatnot, and predicting winners in a World Cup pool. Good fun, and not too big of a sports distraction for only once every four years!

  • Canada isn’t even in the running, but hell, the hockey season just ended and here in Ontario the provincial drinking laws have apparently been temporarily changed so sports fans can drink beer while watching their favourite teams, even if it’s ten in the morning: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/sports/runneth+over/3144312/story.html?cid=megadrop_story

    (Ottawa, I should mention, has a large Italian community which tends to go a little ape-shit during the World Cup. The Greek community has been known to go a bit nuts as well…)

  • ceti

    I agree with Jared. More than the Olympics, football is the most truly international game, US exceptionalism notwithstanding. It can be played and is played by anyone anywhere. The World Cup is also very special where people who do not normally follow sports at all tune in for some good ol’ harmless nationalist fervour.

    Hockey, American Football? You need tons of equipment which costs hundreds of dollars. Even basketball, you need an elevated net and hard surface.

    And while all the league and FIFA play suffers from the same commercialization as other organized sports, football is also a grassroots game. In the US and Canada, it is played by an increasing number of little leagues which has created the basis for the American women’s team to become the best in the world.

  • Lisa

    Headline in the paper this morning

    “One spill the Yanks won’t mind”!

  • Newbia


  • RogerBW

    There’s been a fair bit of backlash in the UK this time round; I think people are fed up with the whole manufactured excitement. I suspect this will grow as it’s realised that this super amazing squad that’s supposedly the country’s best chance for years of winning the thing can’t even beat the Americans. (No disrespect, but they’ve never been contenders.)

    Personally I have no idea when games are on.

  • Omar

    I’m gonna say I’m very proud to be a South African right now, I’m here at home and the World Cup fever is all around me :D On the Opening Day I was woken by a vuvuzela and I didn’t stop hearing it ’till Saturday afternoon. The opening goal was the best feeling watching soccer I’ve had this far, and I’m hoping it only gets better :D

    (Gotta say I was a little surprised that you made a “World Cup” post, hehe)

  • Dart

    Over here in South Korea you’re basically expected to wear red and drink a lot of booze. Saturday night’s match vs. Greece was one of the greatest nights I’ve had here so far. From a foreigner perspective this was incredible. Everyone dressed in red (the country chose chose to be known as “Red Devils”) and bars set up extra screens everywhere. For outdoor restaurants, big screens were displayed, so that you could watch the game anywhere. Everyone was so ecstatic, and it was infectious. And I didn’t end up watching the game in any restaurant. There was a giant screen on Haeundae beach and it was packed.

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