So Long, World Cup

  • It’s too bad Uruguay and Germany weren’t the finals matchup. That was certainly the more entertaining of the two weekend games.
  • Things I will miss now that the Cup is over: The country going nuts after the Donovan goal; France collapsing in hilarious fashion after cheating Ireland; the fact that a tremendously meaningful game was happening nearly every day during June; Ian Darke calling out poor players and cracking jokes during the play-by-play — let’s get with this idea, American sports announcers.
  • Thing I won’t miss: the diving. It’s weird to compare World Cup referees to NHL playoff refs: World Cup refs call fouls that don’t actually occur; NHL refs wouldn’t call a major penalty if a player’s head rolled past them on the ice. Runner-up thing I won’t miss: TV commentators only referring to Africa in mystical, isicathamiya-backed generalizations instead of as a multinational continent with real, modern people.
  • As much as the Donovan goal was an amazing national moment, and as much as the same “Soccer is here to stay!” meme goes around the American media every four years, it’s time to realize that professional-level soccer’s failure to widely catch on after 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006 means the sport’s only going to be major-league popular in this country during World Cups — and that’s totally fine.

    I love watching the world’s best players every four years, and seeing these guys in action makes me curious about their pro careers, but I know it’ll be 2014 before I follow soccer again. In talking to my World-Cup-loving friends, who should be prime candidates to follow MLS or the Premiership, I’ve learned I’m very typical in this regard. I have the NFL and the NHL, and I’m cool with that.

    Rather than the tiresome debate between the misguided American pro-soccer optimists and the xenophobic “Real Americans hate soccer, and get off my lawn” grumps, let’s just enjoy the World Cup Olympics-style: as a fun, international treat that comes along just often enough to be special.

And the requisite highlight vid:

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