Saturday, July 03, 2010


Part of the appeal of soccer—at least to me, a Johnny-come-lately to the sport—is just how excruciatingly boring it is.

I suppose that to the tried-and-true fan, it’s the most exciting game around: the action never stops and anything can happen at any time, but my experience, apart from those few instants when the US scored a goal, is of watching many moments of athletic expertise with very little payoff. It’s kind of like listening to classical musicians, where you get to experience virtuosity, but it’s in service of music just leaves you emotionally cold.

Nonetheless, the ennui-inducing aspect of the game doesn’t prevent me from watching it with some enjoyment; I like how, after staring at a televised match for a couple hours, when I close my eyes, I see little foosball men running around on the insides of my eyelids.

Yesterday morning, I hung out at a coffeeshop/bar to catch Netherlands vs. Brazil. It made things a lot more interesting to be among a crowd of people who were totally into the match, and it didn’t hurt to have a couple of Guinness stouts for breakfast. I was glad to see Holland prevail, at the very least because their orange uniforms are more pleasant for me to observe on the screen, a consideration that probably illustrates as well as anything else, the level of interest I actually have in all of this.

It is the time of non-American sports, though: the Tour de France started today, and there’s a sport, which, while I adore in practice, when viewed on television, makes even soccer seem thrilling.

People complain that going to a baseball game is like watching paint dry; perhaps there’s an aspect of that, but at least it’s a brightly-colored paint; with soccer, it’s like a soothing earth tone shade, applied to a piece of plywood. And after 90 minutes, only is the paint still wet, nobody has even made a brushstroke yet.


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