Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Spread of American Culture

I have never been a soccer fan. Not until today, that is.

World Cup final match, Italy vs. France. Two teams kicking the ball all over the place and having practically nothing to show for it after 90 minutes of "action" and 30 minutes of overtime: boring. Italy winning the match on penalty kicks because someone on the French side screwed up: yawn.

France's Zinedane Zidane smashing his bald head into the solar plexus of Italian Marco Materazzi, intentionally and for no good reason? Now, that's a tackle that an American sports fan can get into!

I'm not proud of my bloodlust, but let's be completely honest here. When it comes to the pageantry of sports, Americans are about as refined in their choices as the Romans were when feeding gladiators to the lions. Football needs no explanation: it's really all about bodies slamming against each other. Basketball these days is about "in-your-face" stuffs and over-the-back flagrant fouls. NASCAR is sitting through an afternoon of left turns, hoping that one car becomes airborne long enough to smash about a half-dozen vehicles into twisted, flaming metal. Even hockey is dominated by players who, long ago, lost their front teeth to flying chunks of hard rubber.

Of the more "placid" sports, baseball today is all about raw displays of power: hitting for distance, spitting sunflower seeds for distance, scratching for distance ... oh, and pitching. The elegant game of tennis has been taken over by musclebound, grunting, screaming bundles of testosterone (and the men's game has fared no better). And in a country where Mike Tyson can still draw a crowd (despite the fact that Iron Mike will threaten to eat its children), do I need to say anything about boxing at all?

I figured that any soccer match in which two countries, representing the weakest European armies of the 20th century, would try to overcome their legacy of mediocrity would be a worthy investment of time.

But not until the game's 110th minute (do we really need to honor a sport that requires a timeline?) did Zidane sprint ahead of Materazzi, then turn around and ram his head directly into the Italian's sternum. Predictably, Materazzi dropped to the turf like ... well, like the Italian army. Zidane was ejected by the referee (actually, they said he was "sent off", presumably without any supper).

And the greatest French athlete since Jean-Claude Killy ended his career, not in triumph, but in disgrace.

What a quintessentially American thing to do.

posted by Gary @ 5:52 PM

15 Comments:

At 2:24 AM, Blogger CT said...

LMFAO now thats some funny shit!!!

 
At 10:56 AM, Blogger Jenn of the Jungle said...

Good post, but I am inclined to disagree.

American football frowns upon overtly aggressive displays. One can tackle, but a blatant headbutt to the solar plexus is generally frowned upon.

I mean, you can't even rough up the kicker, that's a huge no-no.

And I can't recall the last time I watched not one, but numerous American football players fake injuries and roll around on the ground like sissy boys. Nope.There pride, and honor in American footie. Not so much in World Cup play.

World Cup soccer is like watching paint dry underwater.

Now, try a premiership game, much better.

 
At 8:16 PM, Blogger Senor said...

I thought it was ridiculously boring.
Play for 10 minutes and go to penalty kicks.

Best goalies in the world? And they can only block 1 out of 10 penalty kicks?
Yawn.

 
At 2:21 AM, Anonymous earwacs said...

If Zidane marries a sitcom star, writes a tell all book about his teammates rampant steroid abuse and ends up on Le Life Surreal, then he ended his career the American way. Great post!

 
At 2:53 AM, Blogger JDillio12 said...

I don't think you can blame a headbutt on Americans. You hear about and see way more intense soccer fights from crowds and players on international news than in the US news. Blame it on England, darn Rugby! =)

 
At 5:01 AM, Anonymous Marco said...

Ma quanto cazzo siete ignoranti voi americani!!

you americans are really a bloody bunch of ignorants..

go and do what you know how to do better: bomb some countries..

bloody plonkers!

 
At 7:34 AM, Blogger Fence said...

I don't think it has anything to do with American culture, but amusing post nevertheless.

Afterall ZZ has a history of headbutting. And have you ever heard of Roy Keane? Football(soccer to you) has its fair share of violent players.

 
At 9:07 AM, Blogger Randy McFab said...

That headbutt just goes to show how sissified soccer really is. Every American knows a proper headbutt is delivered to the face!

 
At 11:59 AM, Blogger Liss said...

I'm sorry but I also have to disagree, I find incredibly wrong, and some of the comments you have made are verging on racisim. Football (Soccer) is a rough game generally, Jenn of the jungle is right - try watching a decent Premiership match. To s**g off two countries because they are smaller than the US is rather poor manners, and to be honest, I'd rather be from a country that didn't gang up on Iraq than from the UK.

Roy Keane is a tempremental footballing God, and Zinedine is just passionate about his game. I would rather watch a football match than basketball or american football thanks. America's had some good footy players, just a shame no-one in America is very interested in their talents. I met Kasey Keller (he is an American and played for Leicester City) and he was a nice guy. Maybe you could learn a thing or two from him.

 
At 2:22 PM, Blogger Leon said...

I've got an absolutely KILLER post on my blog about the same thing. I must admit, Americans hate finesse but love brute force.

 
At 12:19 AM, Anonymous Semage said...

"America's had some good footy players, just a shame no-one in America is very interested in their talents."

I say this same thing all the time. Even in my recreational soccer coaching, I see players every year who could blow those guys on TV away if only their parents and our damn local baseball-is-god-sorry-excuse-for-a-government would listen to the their children for once and give us soccer people some attention.

It is not that Americans cannot play; it is just that when a good American is found, their dreams of playing for the big names are snuffed out in the name of patriotism or manliness. It is truly a shame. It is the people who understand this wonderful sport the least who seem to speak the loudest about it (and think they understand it the most).

P.S. Baseball is a game, not a sport. :D

 
At 4:51 PM, Blogger Daedalus said...

I apologize if this is a long comment, but I feel I am about to say a lot, so I must use the disclaimer, especially in light of the uninformed comments on this post regarding soccer. And yes, I have something to say about baseball, my religion, but I wait...

It's a shame that Zidane's action defined the entire World Cup, because soccer across the globe shows more sportsmanship than any American sport will ever do. Testament to this is the "injury kick out," where the opposite team kicks a ball out of bounds when a team has an injured player, since you can't stop play for an injury until a ball is out of bounds.

American football frowns upon overtly aggressive displays. One can tackle, but a blatant headbutt to the solar plexus is generally frowned upon.

This comment is laughable. The whole point of American football is violent tackling. Soccer is not more violent. Why the hell do you think Zidane got kicked out of the game? Roughing the kicker doesn't get someone booted. If you get a red card in soccer, you miss the next game, too. Clue is free here.

I like soccer. I don't follow it all that closely except when there is a World Cup in an acceptable time zone. But the American hostility to the sport is inexplicable. Get a grip.

Of the more "placid" sports, baseball today is all about raw displays of power: hitting for distance, spitting sunflower seeds for distance, scratching for distance ... oh, and pitching.

Here is where I must explain something. The National League is not about "raw displays of power", and really, neither is the American League, but the NL is more about strategy, about using your 3 outs to get runs across. So a guy gets a hit. Next batter bunts him to second. One out, guy 180 feet away from scoring. Next guy grounds out to second base, runner moves over to third. Next guy gets a bloop hit, scores a run. Little things count, strategy counts. Baseball is not a all about raw power, even in Boston, where Big Papi has gotten clutch singles to win games. I suspect you know all of this with your comment about "pitching," so you're forgiven for exaggerating. For more on baseball, visit Church of Baseball.

But back to soccer. I am a sports fan, yes. I would never criticize any sport as being "boring," even golf. Sure, it's dull to watch on television to a lot of people. But I understand the strategy involved in all games, even if I don't know much about the sport, like golf. The fact is, Americans who claim sports like baseball or soccer are "boring" simply don't understand the essence of sport.

And now, I'm bored with my comment, so I quit. Although I will say that I have begun to write on my blog again washingtonrox. With that, I've also started reading blogs again. Period of disillusionment over, I guess. Cheers.

Go Reds!

 
At 11:34 PM, Blogger Dee said...

great layout, man.

 
At 9:48 PM, Blogger Sornie said...

Still more entertaining than baseball in my eyes.

 
At 1:12 AM, Blogger Fara Tot said...

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