Soccer — futbol — remains a slightly confusing, occasionally boring experience for yours truly, but I’ve been watching the U.S. team in the World Cup because friends and family like it and it’s probably good to know what people are yelling about in airport bars.
Watching a couple of actual games from start to finish has been instructive. I’d never really done that before. I still think there’s nowhere near enough scoring, but the game does have its good points.
For example, it’s cool that the time on the clock accurately reflects how long the game might last — unlike pro basketball and football, where the last few minutes always take about a week. It’s nice that there are no timeouts.
I like that there are a limited number of substitutions, and that there’s no room on the field for the steroidal 320-pound oafs who are so revered in the NFL.
I like that coaches can’t challenge referee calls and bring the game to a halt while they peer endlessly at a replay tape.
I like the superb acting talent, these guys whose tortured looks after incidental contact always seem to convey the possibility of lifelong paraplegia.
I used to like that there was no biting, but I guess that’s not really the case.
Actually, the only thing I really don’t like in the World Cup is this arcane system that allows certain teams (ahem) to advance despite being owned by the Germans. I’m a patriot and everything, but I hate this business of ties and tiebreakers and accumulated goals and zodiacal alignments. That kind of shit is un-American. Not for reasons promulgated by respected sports analyst Anne Coulter, but because it requires math skills this American does not possess.