Saturday, December 20, 2008
What I Think About When I Think About Soccer
When boiled down to its most basic elements, any sport can seem foolish--"bounce ball, throw ball at iron circle"; "hit ball with stick, run in diamond pattern"; "attempt to cripple people moving in direction opposite you, act surprised when someone gets crippled"--but I firmly believe that soccer stands alone as the silliest of all mainstream athletics. This personal tenet stems not from the fact that the game is foreign to me--as a citizen of a country where millionaires are made by their successful execution of a left turn, I am painfully aware that the bottomless standard for what is considered a "sport" is immune to geographical boundaries--but because soccer is the only widely popular sporting event whose rules explicitly prohibit the use of 50% of its participants' potential limbs.
("Not the goalie!" a proponent of soccer would be quick to point out, but that argument only further proves why soccer will never catch on in the United States: you know what other sport uses a goalie? Hockey (in both its Canadian and alternative-lifestyle incarnations). Goalies mean low scoring; low scoring means low interest among conspicuous consumers; disinterested conspicuous-consumers lead to a demand for a replacement product, which leads to NASCAR. Thanks, hockey.)
While the halving of competitors' available extremities as a fundamental aspect certainly gives soccer a stronger case to call itself "football" than a Sunday-afternoon collision of helmets and shoulder pads can ever claim, it also puts soccer on the level of potato sack racing--yet I sincerely doubt that "$250,000,000 and a Spice Girl" was among the prizes at your last company picnic. It is this irreconcilable contradiction that leaves me confounded by the popularity of soccer, particularly with regard to its small but vocal American fanbase. Whenever I try to argue to my countrymen and friends exactly how asinine is the hands-free game that they love so much, I inevitably end up at a loss for words.
At long last, I have come across a video (thanks to BoingBoing via Defamer) (seen above) that makes my argument for me, through the timeless magic of pictures and music. It's outdated, it's discomfiting, it's seemingly endless...