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Steve Rushin - Soccer Nazi

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Boom_70, Jun 13, 2006.

  1. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    The average American eats three hamburgers a week, 16 orders of French fries a month, 25 pounds of candy a year ... and is profoundly uninterested in the World Cup. Soccer, it appears, is the only thing we don't want crammed down our throats.

    What does this attitude toward the World Cup say about the U.S.? It illuminates many of our least flattering qualities as a nation, not least of which is a breathtaking incuriosity about the rest of the world.

    A new Roper poll says two thirds of Americans aged 18 to 24 can't find Iraq on a map. (Half can't find New York City on a map of the U.S.) When Paraguay plays Trinidad and Tobago in Kaiserslautern, Germany, on June 20, it will seem less like a match than a geography test we didn't study for.

    We also don't like to acknowledge foreign innovation, which partly explains why you've never heard of Kerlon Souza. He's an 18-year-old Brazilian midfielder who invented the seal dribble -- he can flick the ball from his foot onto his forehead in heavy traffic, then dribble the ball just above his eyebrows while slaloming around defenders at full speed.

    Thankfully, video of Souza's parlor trick is available on the Internet, which smuggles soccer highlights into American homes, past the unsuspecting gatekeepers at SportsCenter. Like the Internet, the seal dribble is a quantum leap, a game-changing innovation that dwarfs the forward pass in American football. As Souza has said, "Nobody can get the ball without fouling me."

    Brazil's most brilliant player, Ronaldinho, is victimized by another insidious American bias: We will not abide ponytails on any athlete not named Chris Evert. In soccer the world's superstar du jour -- Ronaldinho today, David Beckham before him, Roberto Baggio before him -- inevitably wears a ponytail at the peak of his fame. But try naming a single American male athlete who has ever gotten away with one. (Besides Secretariat.) It's part of a broader tonsorial xenophobia that has but a single salutary side effect: It killed the movie career of Steven Seagal.

    Soccer doesn't fit our self-image. We fancy ourselves ass-kickers, not grass-kickers. The American misapprehension that soccer is played by ponytailed pansies may derive from the game's epidemic of diving. Francis Lee, Manchester City midfielder of the 1960s and '70s, has the world's worst Wikipedia entry. Not only is Lee discredited as the Pioneer of the Dive, but he also earned another, even less appealing epithet after football, when he became a toilet paper magnate known as the Bog Roll King.

    While diving is indefensible, the fact remains: Soccer players -- running nonstop for two 45-minute halves -- are fitter than athletes in the NBA and are probably more frequently concussed than those in the NFL.

    And they have the best names in all of sport. This year's World Cup will feature Angola's Antonio Lebo-Lebo and Arsenio Love, the Ivory Coast's Boubacar Barry and the Brazilian mononyms Fred and Kaká. One of Ghana's final cuts was Junior Agogo. We can only hope he has a brother named Whiskey.

    Congress has proposed walling off the Mexican border: Subliminally, our World Cup aversion may have less to do with red cards and yellow cards than green cards. We aren't the world. And likewise, the world isn't us. The sport we care most deeply about, American football, holds no interest to the rest of humankind, unless you count fans of the Rhein Fire.

    So let's open our minds, if not our borders. Check out the video of Colombia's goalkeeper, Luis Martinez, scoring on Poland last week in a freaky, fluky, length-of-the-pitch punt that was viewed half a million times the first 24 hours it was posted on youtube.com.

    Check out the mind-blowing, 11-minute video on Nike's Jogo Bonita website, in which 130 people from 30 countries each briefly dribble a ball before passing it out of frame to the next person. (One guy traps the ball on the back of his neck and keeps it balanced there while he drops and does push-ups.)

    Watch the clip of Johann Cruyff dekeing a Swedish defender out of his socks in the '74 World Cup, when the great Dutchman -- for the first time on a world stage -- feints right and backheels left in one bewildering motion. It's like witnessing the discovery of fire and is viewable by entering into any search engine the phrase Cruyff Turn, the name by which the tactic has been taught ever since.

    Watch all these vignettes, and if you still don't like soccer, you don't like sports. You only think you do.

    Issue date: June 12, 2006
  2. Flying Headbutt

    Flying Headbutt Moderator Staff Member

    Re: Steve Rushin - Soccer Natzi

    Columns like that will become the most overused cliche for the next few weeks.
  3. Re: Steve Rushin - Soccer Natzi

    We're Americans.
    We can do what we like.
    THAT'S going to be the most overused cliche of the next month.
  4. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    Re: Steve Rushin - Soccer Natzi

    "Breathtaking incuriosity about the rest of the world"

    Agree or disagree?
  5. Re: Steve Rushin - Soccer Natzi

    You can't talk about our president that way.
  6. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Re: Steve Rushin - Soccer Natzi

    If I'm forced to watch kickball, I'm going to do it on my own terms -- at a playground, where I can look at MILFs. Otherwise, if I want to hear pontificating, I'll go to church on Sunday, not deal with Wilbur Post,
  7. goalmouth

    goalmouth Well-Known Member

    Re: Steve Rushin - Soccer Natzi

    How can anyone living in an industrialized nation misspell 'nazi'?

    Boom cannot possibly be a real person.
  8. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    Re: Steve Rushin - Soccer Natzi


    And that's "Nazi," not "Natzi."
  9. Twoback

    Twoback Active Member

    Re: Steve Rushin - Soccer Natzi

    It's not wrong, just dumb.
    If you miss the greatest sporting event on the planet, well, then, you've missed the greatest sporting event on the planet.
    Not smart.
  10. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    Only appropriate that ol' Boomer would blow his 10,000th post on a Nazi reference.
  11. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    I'm not a big soccer fan but hey, if a billion people around the world are watching, maybe I should check it out.
  12. ballscribe

    ballscribe Active Member

    Nobody's forcing anyone to like it.

    It's just that by ripping it, you not-so-subtly criticize the hundreds of millions of human beings on the planet who think it's a trip.

    It's a tremendous event world-wide, of tremendous scope. To not at least appreciate - even worse, make fun of it - it is to show your ignorance.

    It's very true that the more you know about soccer, the more you like it. Ergo, if you don't know anything about it, it's not surprising you don't like it. ;D
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