Monday, June 19, 2006
The Shatnerizing of Soccer
The other day, Otto laid out a pretty good case for soccer being just as appealing as any of our big sports, and I agree with most of what he has to say. However, that doesn’t mean I’m painting my face and attaching kooky flags to my car. As with most stuff for our generation, the big soccer show gives me neither highs nor lows. Sure, I can easily get sucked into a meaningless game, like I did with France v. Korea yesterday, but I can just as easily get sucked into “Under Siege” (like I also did yesterday). In fact, watching Steven Segal take back the U.S.S. Missouri from that bastard traitor Gary Busey helped crystallize what it is about the World Cup that I’m not liking. Bad acting.
It's one thing when it’s Segal doing the bad acting, because you pretty much know what he’s going for. There’s the determined stare (foreshadowing many neck breakings), the disillusioned/betrayed stare (followed by Theisman-esque knee shatterings), the angry stare (lethal head butts on the way), and the Mona Lisa smile (aw yeah, he’s about to score!). There’s also the helpful background music, which further refines just how intense his next roundhouse kick is going to be.
Soccer players are clearly almost as tough as Segal, but the second one of them goes down, get ready for a serious Oscar (the award, not the grouch) moment. They take their acts so far that you worry they really might be hurt this time, even though the last 87 times they were faking it. I like a good flop as much as the next guy -- Vlade Divac could pull a flop that really made ya think. But the way these guys overdo it is just too much. They roll around on the ground, the medics bring out that scary stretcher with all the neck support straps, and you just know the guy’s career is over. Their agony is so intense it transcends human experience -- until the ref blows a whistle, and then they pop right back up. Oh, the good ones keep pretending to be hurt, limping and grimacing and such, but you know they were fine and just wanted to stop play for whatever reason.
This is annoying. If there’s going to be a stoppage, it better be worth it. All soccer has going for it is the no-time-out thing, so they should quit ruining that. There’s also the tease factor. Don’t get me worked up to see some blood and guts if you’ve just got a little headache. That makes me resent you, just like all those women who wouldn’t go out with me.
A less important (and far less Steven Segal-related) issue: the smallest mistake looks like the world’s dumbest kick. I really do appreciate how skilled the players are, but 90% of the shots look hideously off. They spend five minutes carefully pushing the ball up the field, passing and heading and all that good stuff, they cross it to the guy in the middle, and he launches it 20 feet above the goal. Or he kicks it right into the goalie’s hands. Or knees it to a gaggle of 5 defenders. I know these guys are the best in the world, but it just looks so bad when they miss. I really don’t know how they can fix this -- maybe a giant backboard?
So that’s me and soccer. You guys got any thoughts? Favorite game from the weekend? (CZ v. Ghana for me, definitely.) What’s your take on those women who wouldn’t date me -- they’re losers, right? Right?
P.S. Almost forgot -- the in-studio anchor types for ABC/ESPN we saw before games and at half time included 2 former U.S. players, Alexi Lalas and some other guy. Were they the suckiest sucks who ever sucked, or what?