Monday, June 19, 2006

World Cup: six observations

We are almost into the final round of games at the World Cup group state. Ratings this year are through the roof -- in fact, the USA-Italy game was even the lead story on ESPN, the ultimate arbiter of sports-worthiness. I've been getting up most every morning at 6 am to watch the first game of the day, then skipping out of work at lunch to see the final game. And after 50+ hours of Cup coverage, I have five observations:

1. High-definition television will finally create a permanent soccer culture in the U.S. Everyone keeps wondering when soccer is going to escape its tennis-like status in the American sports hierarchy. The answer is HD broadcasting. Watching the widescreen, super-sharp picture, you see the entire game unfold -- long passes that look like mindless kicks on regular TV are infused with potential.

2. Marcelo Balboa, the color commentator for ABC and ESPN, sure likes stressing every second word of his pointless observations. "You haaaaave to score a goal to win. You neeeeeed to get the three points in the group. You caaaaaaan't let the other team score more than you. I liiiiiiiike what I see from the US right now."

3. The fanaticism of the South Korean fans -- yes, South Korean -- is hard to fathom. Yesterday, South Korea played France in . For 90 minutes, the Korean fans banged drums, sang songs, and generally screamed their heads off in support of their team. France, of course, shared a border with Germany, whereas Korea shares a border with the Pacific Ocean. An impressive display that will make Korea a surprisingly hard team to beat going forward.

4. 2006 is the year sports referees took 15 years off my life. After the debacle that was the 2006 Super Bowl, I thought I'd seen the worse in bad officiating. But watching the referee of the US-Italy game yank red cards out of his pocket with giddy abandon made me age another 10 years on Saturday. My back hair has turned gray.

5. "Jose" from the Adidas advertisement doesn't know shit about picking a soccer team. Do you know those Adidas ads with the two street kids from some unidentified Latin American country who pick teams? Jose, the less fat kid, has the first pick and he picks freakin' Djibril Cisse, an erratic French forward more famous for his hair than his actual ability (Cisse isn't even starting for France). The fat kid immediately takes Beckham -- smart move, Gordito! -- and you have to wonder: what the f*** was Jose thinking?

6. If you aren't watching US-Ghana on Thursday, I don't know what's wrong with you. Quite simply, the biggest World Cup game in our nation's history. "You haaaaaaave to support them. They neeeeeeed to win to advance. It wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiill be a huge game." USA! USA! USA!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks baby. Point 5 just made me crack up on a conference call....

9:51 AM  

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