2014-07-09 / Editorials

What’s this ‘futbol’ you speak of?

I make no apologies for the fact that I’ve watched almost none of the World Cup because I make no apologies for the fact that I just don’t like soccer.

I’m a proud American, and I want our sports teams to succeed at whatever it is they are playing. If America had a tiddlywinks team, I’d want to them to beat the world.

So I rooted for the U.S. team like a good American should. I just did it while watching the Braves play on another channel, or while watching shows I recorded on my DVD or while watching a “Law & Order” marathon.

I did watch some of the last game the U.S. men played, a loss to Belgium. I had no choice, really. I was invited to dinner with some friends and we met at a sports bar that had the game – or match or whatever it’s called – on all the TVs in the place.

All my life, I’ve heard that soccer is going to be the next big thing in America, and every four years – when a World Cup rolls around – we get excited. We talk about soccer. We watch soccer. Then the World Cup ends. And we forget about soccer.

I only have one memory of a World Cup soccer match from my whole life, and it really has nothing to do with soccer. In 1999, when Brandi Chastain made the penalty shot that won the World Cup for the U.S. women, she celebrated by taking off her shirt, which is all you need to know about why women’s soccer is more popular in America than men’s soccer.

There are a few reasons why I’ve never developed an interest in soccer. First, I never played it as a kid, and it was never on TV when I was growing up. Second, because I never played it, I don’t really understand the rules.

Sure, I know that one team is trying to put the ball in the net at one end of the pitch – they don’t call it a field; don’t ask me why – and the other team is trying to put the ball in the net at the other end. Beyond that, I haven’t got a clue.

But the biggest reason is that I find soccer to be utterly boring. I know that a lot of people are fans of soccer, and more power to you. A lot of people can’t stand college football and can’t believe I get up at the crack of dawn every fall Saturday to follow my team. To each his own, I always say.

Two teams race up and down the pitch for 90 minutes, but no one scores. Ever. Every now and then, you get a real scoring orgy and a match ends 2-1, which is the equivalent of Georgia beating Tech 56-35. But that almost never happens.

In the last two U.S. men’s matches, only one goal was scored in regulation. That means in 180 minutes of play, only one team scored. And they only scored once.

And this is supposed to be exciting?

I have a friend who hates soccer as much as I do.

“If I want to watch someone struggle to score for 90 minutes,” he said, “I’ll take my friends to a bar.”

Now that the U.S. men have been eliminated from the World Cup, my interest has waned even more. There’s just no way to get excited about a match between the Netherlands and Costa Rica.

So, to heck with “futbol.” Besides, real “football” begins in just 51 days.

Mitch Clarke is a native of Blakely, Ga. He can be reached at mitch.clarke@gmail.com.

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