Thoughts on the 2014 World Cup

  • Muticulturalism rules: When you have two black half-brothers named Boateng, one who plays for Ghana and the other for Germany. When I see a US national team member, a black dude with dreads, speaking English with a German accent. When among the Gonzalezes and Rodriguezes of a Central American team, there’s a “Campbell.” OK, so most of the guys’ names on the Balkan teams still end in “-ic.” It’s still a work in progress. But I dig it.
  • It must really chap the old Germans’ lederhosen – you know, the old bigots complaining at their Stammtisches – to know that their foremost strikers are, well, two Poles and a Turk.
  • I hate Ronaldo. I don’t like Ronaldo. Please don’t make me like Ronaldo. (
  • Luis Suarez should join up with Mike Tyson and form a support group for those who have an irresistible appetite for manflesh.
  • Sure, I love Germany, and I want them to win it all. But it’s about time for someone besides them and Brazil, Argentina, and Italy to win. I say the Netherlands. Come on, give them a break, they live in a country with 30 people that’s below sea level. And they had to send most of them to Brazil to play soccer. They’ve come in second three times!
  • Is it me or does Alexi Lalas seem to have contempt for every other analyst? He works through it, but, initially, man, relax.
  • How do so many people from so many countries afford to show up to the world cup? No matter where it is, really? You’d think that at the prices they must be charging for airfare, hotels, etc., that only the elites could go. But you see the same face-painted, bare-chested, dare I say, “blue collar” madness that you might at any NFL game. Somehow, soccer rules.
  • That guy’s knee hit you in the thigh. Why are you grabbing your face?
  • I remember playing (American) football, and when it was my turn to come out, loping casually off the field. And the coach screaming at me, “Get your ass moving, Goldman! Why should we have to wait for you?” So when I see these Pro players casually striding off the pitch, wasting precious seconds, and no one is protesting, I wonder. The clock’s running, man.
  • But man, those little dudes can move quickly. When they want to.
  • Never do I remember seeing such a myriad of inked skin. Some of these teams are tatted up and down. Arms, stomachs, chests, necks, even faces. Not being a tattoo guy, I don’t get it. Maybe I’m getting old and inevitably old-fashioned; seeing multimillionaires running around looking like gang members or rock starts is odd to me. I realize a bunch of ink doesn’t make you a low-life; I have friends with tattoos. I guess I just don’t get the attraction of permanently marking your skin…
  • Hairdos. Chileans with Mohawks. Belgians with Afros. There are more hairdos at the world cup than at a Milan fashion extravaganza. Some women would kill for some of that hair. When you see a guy with “normal” hair, you have to point it out. “Look, that guy has normal hair! What the hell’s wrong with him?”
  • There’s a guy on the Brazil team named Hulk. Hulk say no handball. Hulk angry. Hulk never flop.
  • Sportsmanship. One of my absolute favorite things about the whole spectacle is seeing players getting along with players from the other team. Sure, often they’re on the same club team together. But seeing a Japanese player and a Colombian player grin and hug each other before a game bodes well for the world. Even if they DO both play for Dortmund or ManU.
  • Diving/flopping/falling. One of my least favorite things about Le Fusbol. OK, the absolute WORST thing. And one of the things that has always made me a non-fan of the South American teams, particularly Brazil and Argentina. The flop left, they flop right. Another player taps them lightly and they flip a somersault and hurt themselves far more landing than whatever the other player did. Then they writhe around, crying soliloquies of pain, histrionic like a wordless Olivier. They finally get up and limp like they have a shattered femur. Then, miraculously, two minutes later, they’re sprinting like a Jamaican track star. Must be their training.To be fair, I’ve seen a few flops by my favorite teams, too. I still don’t like it. I know you’re trying to win a foul, an advantage for your team, perhaps at a critical moment. But it feels dirty. In fact, I’ll even call it, yes, a wussy move. I’ll go out on a limb and say that if you’re an adult male, and you’re crying and acting like you’re hurt when you’re not, then you’re a big, fat, whining wuss. Get over yourself, you big baby. Stand up and play the damned game.
  • And what a game it is.

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