Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Yes, there are soccer players of incredible skill. Some of the highlights are fantastic. But overall, soccer as a sport sucks.
It sucks, okay? You have to go back to the days of Georgie Best (who I watch on the classic games channel on the satellite dish) to find anything like tolerable games.
Okay, I need to be more specific. Here's why it sucks.
1.) The referreeing is wildly inconsistent/poor, probably because there's one guy - ONE guy! - on a giant pitch trying to keep an eye on 22 guys all by himself. Impossible. No wonder there's so much diving - when you're thirty feet away, a dive looks exactly like a trip. How many games have we seen, especially in World Cups, decided on some dubious penalty shot call? I mean, the England-Argentina semi-final game at the '86 World Cup is probably the best game of the last thirty years - and the first goal in that game was the result of a totally blown call by the ref. Maradona punches the ball into the net with his chubby little hand, and it stands?! What the...?
And by the way - does pro soccer have video replay yet? I don't think they do. And if they don't...SHOCKING! They won't put an extra ref on; they won't introduce video replay even though your average soccer game contains more dives than the dolphin show at Sea World...than a Greg Louganis birthday party...oh wait - more dives than downtown Detroit. What is up with the FIFA referree people?
When the universal soccer strategy seems to be, "get into the penalty area and then fall down and roll around clutching your ankle", why not do something? That leads me to the second reason why it sucks.
2.) Soccer players are, with almost no exceptions, total babies. That reminds me of a little joke: What's the difference between soccer and rugby? Soccer players spend 90 minutes pretending they're hurt, and rugby players spend 80 minutes pretending they're not.
The rolling around, the clutching, the diving, the theatrics, the pouting and arguing when the ref doesn't fall for their bogus dives...you'd think these guys just had a shiv jammed into their left gerbil with all the waterworks...it is embarrassing! And the best is, after rolling around for two minutes clutching their leg like it's being sawn off in a World War I medic's tent, they magically get back up and - "all better!" - take their free or penalty kick. Magic! Or else...no, it couldn't be...it couldn't be acting, could it?
3.) Not enough scoring, and not enough good, genuine scoring chances. For that, they'd need to throw two or three more balls out on the pitch, which of course, would turn it into a different game altogether.
Anyway, there has to be some explanation for the popularity of soccer around the world (alcohol?) which does not posit that it is exciting to watch, because where it is not infuriating for its manifest unfairness, it's as boring as watching grass grow.
I mentioned rugby above.
I think it can safely be said that if any rugby player were ever caught taking the sorts of pathetic dives that soccer players attempt literally in every game, that his own teammates would probably kick the crap out of him. That's one reason why rugby's a better sport than soccer - it's a sport, not a theatrical performance. Soccer players increasingly look like they've graduated from the Bob Fosse school of choreography, just completed the Stanislavsky method acting course or something...
Don't believe me? Think I'm exaggerating? I just looked on YouTube for a video illustration of what I'm talking about. Check this out. Or this. And note, these clips are not extraordinary at all. One can find similar dramatic excursions in any game, and the higher up the league, the worse it gets. This is why it's more entertaining watching your 13 year old play than watching Premier League schmucks - your thirteen year old, at least not the ones around here, aren't faking when they go down.
Anyway, I have no reason to doubt that soccer was once a great game, back in the days, I imagine, of Matt Busby, Pele, Jackie Charlton, Georgie. Now, it is not so much a sport as an alternately boring and infuriating theatrical performance by prima donna metrosexuals who wouldn't last four seconds on a rugby pitch, yet who strut around like they've just descended from Valhalla.
Soccer - so 90's (as my brother Brigo always says).
Rugby - so the future. I hope anyway.