Why the World Cup is Outrageously Disappointing

by Chris Ippolito

During my years at Marist College, I came across very few true hockey fans.  As a die hard Rangers fan and ardent supporter of USA hockey, I felt obligated to push hockey on my housemates, who fortunately, were extremely open-minded about it from the beginning.  Two years after their introduction, I would consider three of the four of them good Rangers fans and all of them huge supporters of USA hockey (not a hard feat after Team USA’s Olympic performance).

With this in mind, all of my housemates were soccer supporters.  Realizing the strides that they took in their hockey fandom, they tried pushing “the beautiful game” on me.  Selfishly, I was not as open minded about watching soccer as they were to watching hockey.  To be blunt, I can’t stand watching the sport.  I played for about six years as an adolescent, even captaining my travel team for my final two years.  However, once I discovered football, I left soccer for good, never to return.  Every time one of my housemates would put soccer on the tube, I would go upstairs to my room to watch Mike Francesa or ESPN’s Around the Horn.  One afternoon, as I was about to do just this for approximately the 50th time, I was called out by all of them.  After insisting that I just simply couldn’t sit there watching a million inconsequential passes and a trillion dives a game, they made one simple request of me: “At least watch the World Cup and support the USA.”   So, wanting to placate my now fellow hockey supporters, I obliged.

Five days into the event, which is supposed to be the sport’s grandest stage, I am absolutely overwhelmed by boredom when watching this “beautiful game”. First and foremost, let me state what I can’t stand about the sport to begin with.  It starts with the lack of scoring, followed by the diving, and concluded with goalkeepers yelling at their teammates.

FIFA: Finally I Fell Asleep?

I decided not to pay attention to the inaugural games on Friday, June 11th.  The first game I watched was the United States vs. England game on Saturday, June 12th.  In all cases, if the USA emblem is on a team’s jersey, I feel obligated to support them.  This is no different with soccer.  I actually was excited to see the United States upset the heavily favored English.  I traveled down to Baltimore to meet up with two of my buddies from school to watch the event.  As we were driving to a local bar, we listened to a local sports radio station to get a game preview.  All three analysts who were interviewed predicted 1-1 ties.

We all know what happened in the game.  A quick goal by the English, due to incompetent defense by the Americans.  A weak goal scored late in the first half by Clint Dempsey due to an awful gaffe by English goalie Robert Green.  A hit post by the Americans, a big save by U.S goalie Tim Howard, and the rest is history.

It was only after this game concluded that I realized I could not follow this sport for another minute.  How is a game so predictable that three analysts on the same show not only correctly predicted the outcome, but also the score of the game?  What’s worse is that after the game was tied at 1-1.  There were, from what I recall, two scoring chances for England, and one for the USA.  (I know I mentioned that I watched the game from a bar, but for those who are assuming my memory was unreliable, know that I drove from Baltimore to Atlantic City, NJ immediately after the game…and drunk driving is against my morals.)  In other words, I felt like the teams were complacent with tying one another.  To me, this is a severe offense; sports treason in my mind.

They Set Goals; Why Not Score A Few?

I’d now like to elaborate on my previously stated reasons for disliking soccer with emphasis on the World Cup tournament.  I understand that low scoring is simply a result of the game of soccer.  I cannot expect a well played, professional soccer game to end in a 5-4 score.  It’s simply not a fair expectation.  However, the fact that when one goal is scored, the scoring team goes into a defensive shell, to me, represents a huge problem with the sport.  First and foremost, it results in a ridiculous amount of ties.  In the 16 games that have been played, 6 have resulted in ties.  Also, 14 of the 16 games have produced two or fewer goals.  Meaning, either the game is relatively one-sided, or it results in a tie.  Soccer fans keep telling me, “That’s how the first round works.  Teams don’t want to lose their first game.  No team has ever won the World Cup if they lost their first game.” So forget your father’s favorite line from growing up, “Never play to not lose,” because at soccer’s grandest stage, that’s exactly how the game is played.  My solution: institute some form of illegal defense.

I don’t need to go too much into why I hate the diving, because although I believe it’s disgraceful, it results in free kicks, which is one of the only ways these guys actually score anyway.  I can’t stand it, but if players’ acting skills are going to result in more goals because of the calls made by easily-deceived referees, then I guess I’m ok with it.

You Don’t Run?  Then Don’t Talk

Now for my ultimate soccer pet-peeve: outspoken goalkeepers.  If I was forced to distribute an accolade to soccer players, it would be for their unprecedented cardiovascular endurance.  These guys run around the field with reckless abandon for an hour and a half, with a 15 minute break in-between.  To me, that’s remarkable.  There is no sport that demands such endurance, except for long distance running. With this in mind, it is sickening to think that under soccer’s unwritten rules, it is normal for the only person who is not running around like a wild dog, the goalkeeper, to yell and scream at his defenders like a teacher yelling at 4th grader.  This is absolutely baffling to me.  Compared to the rest of the team, the goalie runs maybe 5% of what the other players do.  To think that he has any right to bombard the position players with anything but “thank yous” is ridiculous to me.

I don’t have a problem with soccer fans.  I don’t have a problem with people who think that this game really is beautiful.  My issue is that when the NBA Finals are going on, Lakers-Celtics no less, not to mention a baseball season that thus far has the Mets and Yankees nine and 17 games over .500, I have to watch highlights and analysis of a 1-1 or a 0-0 soccer game.  If the excuse for the lack of scoring and the fear of losing in this tournament is, “that’s how the game is,” then please, designate a channel that covers sports where winning does not take upmost precedence.  Call me closed-minded, call me a hater; it very well may be true.  All I can convey are my true feelings.  And they are that this World Cup is no more exciting to me than watching paint dry or the grass grow.

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One Response to “Dropping the Gloves: Soccer? Not So Much”

  1. the first round of the world cup, will always have results that are draws, I would compare it to the it to the opening rounds of a boxing match, no one wants to show a weakness or a strength, both of which can be exploited. no one wants to reveal how they are going to attack, since ultimately, it will give the opposition an advantage. The world cup is a title fight, where teams would rather show defensive qualities in lieu of letting the counter attack spoil their hope.. a prize fighter who throws hay-makers in the early rounds will run out of steam. while a team such as Italy won the cup in 06 by barley making it out of the group. If one is too look at the results of the second group games they have been at a minimum, sans England Algeria, a minimum of 2 goals.

    also you postulated that the world cup(which happens every 4 years mind you), is less important than Major League Baseball season, is a perpetuate claim. the game takes place once every 4 years with a field of 32 squads.

    how can that even compare with the drudgery of 162 games over a season that doesn’t matter until july?

    I’ll give you that the NBA finals were on during this first period of the world cup.

    still seeing as how soccer is a minority sport in the sates, how does this affect the NBA?

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