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Another Reason to Love the World Cup, Continued

I feel like I unleashed a real torrent with my earlier posting about the manifold joys (not shared by all commenters, to put it mildly!)of the World Cup. Naysayers should watch the first five minutes of today's Argentina-Serbia&Montenegro match for a perfect illustration of what I had in mind. Argentina scored a truly magnificent goal -- 12 separate passes in the offensive third of the field, a beautiful slow build-up to the final charge into the box (an Argentine defender, who saw an opening and burst into it) and the great finish. [the second goal, with TWENTY-FOUR PASSES leading up to the finish, was even more magnificent).

The usual pile-up celebration followed; but what was really great was the shot of two of the Argentine players, a defender and the goalkeeper, away from the pile-up; the emotion that poured out of them visible on their faces was pretty intense -- there's not much else one ever can see on TV that touches it. If you think (as many do, with lots of justification) that big-time sports is too often just about the money, see if you can find a replay.

Kieran (mail):
See the second goal via this post.
6.16.2006 1:44pm
Vovan:
By the way, for pure football passion, the best place to watch the games is on the spanish-language TV channels. The announcers for example call Saudi Arabia and Tunisia match like it was the Finals. I find ESPN utterly lacking in that regard
6.16.2006 1:53pm
Commenterlein (mail):
Just beautiful.
6.16.2006 1:55pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
24 passes to score a goal?? Sounds riveting, did the Tuba Player get flattened?
6.16.2006 2:22pm
JohnAnnArbor:
Frank,

Wasn't it a trombone player?
6.16.2006 2:36pm
U.Va. 2L (no longer a 1L) (mail):
No, but the trombone player took a wicked hit.
6.16.2006 2:36pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Vovan, the worst one is the guy on ABC who called the England - Paraguay match. It's expected that he knew nothing of soccer, but he made about 659 references to Posh Spice, Prince Harry and Brooklyn Beckham. The rage I was in, she was-uh murderous.

The ESPN guys are actually pretty good, especially by comparison.
6.16.2006 2:58pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Oh, and U.VA, congrats man.
6.16.2006 2:58pm
Anon1ms (mail):
The references to Posh Spice were a lot less distracting than announcer Dave O'Brien's constant (and pointless) political comments during the Mexico-Iran match.
6.16.2006 3:47pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
Prof. Post: I greatly appreciate your infusion of soccer into the VC, but for those of us stuck in an office with the Tivo at home on overdrive, a "SPOILER ALERT" would go a long way. Not that Argentina going up 2-0 on S&M (oops...er..Serb&Mont) is a big surprise, but there are much bigger matches ahead. Thanks, and do please keep up the soccer posting.
6.16.2006 3:49pm
Joshua (www):
Not that Argentina going up 2-0 on S&M (oops...er..Serb&Mont) is a big surprise[...]

You've gotta love a team (1) whose shorthand name evokes images of dominatrices, whips and chains; and (2) represents a country that technically doesn't even exist any more.
6.16.2006 4:34pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
The match I really want to see is Trinidad vs. Tobago. There is some serious animosity there.
6.16.2006 4:48pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
You've gotta love a team (1) whose shorthand name evokes images of dominatrices, whips and chains; and (2) represents a country that technically doesn't even exist any more.

Any of the other Russkies around here have fond memories of the Unified Team?
6.16.2006 4:51pm
JRL:
"By the way, for pure football passion, the best place to watch the games is on the spanish-language TV channels. The announcers for example call Saudi Arabia and Tunisia match like it was the Finals. I find ESPN utterly lacking in that regard"

That reminds me of this Simpsons classic where international soccer comes to Springfield. Compare the 2 announcers starting at 1:56 (everything up to that point is pretty good too and captures the attitude of these two posts):

http://youtube.com/watch?v=D-E6weZIdG8&search=simpso
6.16.2006 5:00pm
ys:
Well, there were actually two more teams in history for a country that did not exist:

1) CIS team (1992, for an already non-existent country)
2) United Team of Germany (1956-1964, for a country that did not exist already and did not exist yet)
6.16.2006 5:01pm
capitalist pig:
People often say the major U.S. sports are "about the money" as if that's a bad thing. Isn't that better than sports being about blind patriotism and nationalism?
6.16.2006 5:02pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):

Any of the other Russkies around here have fond memories of the Unified Team?

The team wasn't the embarassment it now became, but somehow they always fell short - amazing - considering the resources that the USSR devoted to sport. It's especially weird given their prominence in other team sports, like hockey and basketball.

I do have some fond memories. Renat Dasaev had some saves that stand out big time.

Oh, for good Russkie-language coverage, check out my Dad's (Israeli-based) Cup blog.
6.16.2006 5:22pm
Joe7 (mail):
So you sat through 90 minutes of a game to watch one exciting series. This is why soccer will likely never be accepted at more than a trivial level in this country.

Before you counter that baseball is boring, I won't disagree (though it's not as boring as soccer.) NASCAR is boring too. The reason they are popular is due to cultural ritual that goes back decades.

There is one way; if a series of VERY popular, talented and charismatic US players emerge AND play in the US. Where are the Michael Jordans, Babe Ruths, Tiger Woods, etc. of Soccer? Mia Hamm by herself isn't going to cut it (and I would suggest she's done a huge amount to popularize the sport viewershipwise.)

Do note, however, that the personalities play against the just how lame the game really is. Narrow the field, drop the offsides silliness, add instant substitutions (no timeouts) and increase the size of the goal. Now you have a sport.
6.16.2006 5:34pm
Joe7 (mail):
Or shrink the size of the goal, remove the goal keeper, but add an area directly in front of the goal, like in lacrosse, that a player cannot be in for more than 3 seconds.

BTW, the real mystery is why Australian Rules Football hasn't become more popular:-)
6.16.2006 5:38pm
JRL:
I've watched just about every World Cup match so far (instead of studying for the bar exam, mind you), and the 1 thing I absolutely cannot stand about the game is the use of plural verb form with country names. England are this, Paraguay are that, etc. Argh. Drives me nuts.
6.16.2006 5:39pm
ken (mail) (www):
You inspired me to try a little experiment. During lunch break at the CLE I'm attending I went down to the bar in the hotel I'm staying at. Golf was on the big screen TV and I was the first guy there so I changed it to soccer. As is true of most sports played at a high level and with enthusiasm it was interesting enough to watch, but I can be mesmerized by curling so I might not be the best judge. ESPN2 even had announcers who were doing a good job of explaining the technical rules without making us Americans feel too dumb. And 45 minutes later, when I left, there were four more people watching the match (although two had Euro accents). Not the most resounding affirmation of soccer as an American pastime, but 4 more than I expected in Virginia.
6.16.2006 5:42pm
Houston Lawyer:
If you wanted to see true bliss, you should have been at the Hooters off Kirby in Houston when Vince Young scooted into the end zone near the end of the Rose Bowl.

Or you could have partied with the Rice fans when they beat UT in football about 10 years ago after having been shut out by the Horns for 30 years. Those guys were party animals.

College football is where the real passion lives.
6.16.2006 5:51pm
singin' it:
Hold me David, make me feel like a woman again.

Does anyone else think this post reads like an Ann Rice novel??
6.16.2006 6:09pm
poster child (mail):
Soccer is a sport best appreciated by those who have played it. However, if you can watch this highlight reel of the great Zinedine Zidane and not come away impressed by the sheer beauty of the game (when played at the highest level), then I don't know what would:

6.16.2006 6:18pm
Vovan:
Mike

Awesome website, there is some great reporing on it.
Spasibo
6.16.2006 6:18pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Nezoshto, I'm glad you like it.
6.16.2006 6:20pm
Bob Bobstein (mail):
Houston Lawyer: College football is where the real passion lives.

Very true. These foreign homo weirdos are all faking it. As were Red Sox fans after the Sox won the WS in 04.
6.16.2006 6:31pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
For real excitement check out the College World Series head to head with the World Cup on ESPN2.
6.16.2006 6:39pm
CLR alum (mail):
Joe7 said: "So you sat through 90 minutes of a game to watch one exciting series."

Bad match to make that point. SPOILER. This one was pretty much non-stop action, complete with numerous goals, a red card, two inspiring substitutes, and (relatedly) a teenage phenom responsible for an assist and a goal in the 15 minutes he played. Unfortunately, with the exception of the red card, only one of the two sides produced that action.
6.16.2006 7:07pm
o' connuh j.:
JRL,

From the Economist's Style Guide:

"Teams that take the name of a town, country or university are plural, even when they look singular: England were bowled out for 56."
6.16.2006 8:59pm
silverpie:
Use of the plural with a seemingly singular team name is standard in British and Australian English, while US and Canadian English treat them as singular. Divided by a common language...

The only reason I think Aussie Rules hasn't fully caught on here is that it requires too large a playing field to operate in its full glory. But it is played here in the States--I run the clock and keep stats for the Nashville Kangaroos.
6.16.2006 10:23pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
Use of the plural with a seemingly singular team name is standard in British and Australian English, while US and Canadian English treat them as singular. Divided by a common language...

I've always preferred the plural and wished American commentators would adopt it. It avoids silly sentences like "Cleveland isn't playing together well."
6.17.2006 12:19am
Neil Reinhardt (mail):
Golf? VERY boring!

Baseball? Boring!

Soccer? Pretty Boring!

NASCAR. Driving around and around in a circle. Boring!

Me, I will take Beach Vollyball. NOT Boring and HOT chicks

(Plus, I'm still playing &I'm
71!)
6.17.2006 2:10am
PersonFromPorlock:
singin' it: Does anyone else think this post reads like an Ann Rice novel??

Well, reading it I haven't yet burst out "Damnit man, quit talking and bite someone!" so probably not.
6.17.2006 7:30pm