41. Not knowing a thing about soccer

This is a decent reason to get into soccer.

This is a decent reason to get into soccer.

I am sitting in the Kabul Hostel (which is a party-animal zoo, but that’s for another post)  bar in Barcelona right now, watching the Brazil-Côte d’Ivoire game and the place is packed with Brazilian backpackers, along with other travelers watching the game. Brazil scored to go up 1-0 about 15 minutes ago and people were having fits. I mean, once the ball hit the back of the net, these Brazilians were screaming, jumping up and down, waving flags and doing everything short of having a seizure. The frenetic display lasted four minutes*.

It’s clear I’m not a die-hard soccer fan because I’m sitting here on the Internet while this whale of a match is being played, just glancing over at the screen instead of giving it my full attention. I don’t even know what that says about me. I suppose I’m pretty self-absorbed. No wait, I’m chanelling my inner journalist; I like to stay informed about world events and my friends’ business on Facebook. Yeah, that’s what it means.

As a Canadian who doesn’t even watch much hockey — I’m more of a basketball guy — I know next to nothing about soccer. Sure, I played it as a kid, but so did everybody in North America who knows as little or less about soccer than I do. We call it “soccer” for chrissakes. It’s pretty obvious we know dick about soccer. That said, I hate when North Americans pretend they’re hardcore into soccer. Fine if you’re an immigrant kid or you played mad soccer your whole life. No, I’m talking about people who go traveling or live abroad and come home pretending they’re absolutely mad about international football. It’s a joke, like coming home and using UK slang with your buddies in Buffalo (see 19. Coming Home with a Lame Accent).

Christian Lander writes,

“Most white people choose a favorite soccer team based on either a study abroad experience or a particularly long vacation to Europe or South America. When they return, they like to tell their friends about how great ‘football’ is and that they are committed to ‘getting more into’ now that they have returned home.

“Some white people take this charade so far as to actually play in adult soccer leagues or attend a local professional match.”

I couldn’t agree more. In fact, upon going back to reference the above post, I found that Lander’s most recent post is about the World Cup. So to not inform the rest of this post as I’m writing it, I haven’t read his last one yet.

So what more can I say? Well, sitting here watching these people take in the game makes me wish I had an appreciation for the lack of scoring in soccer. I’ve often felt that watching soccer is like constipation. You’re rocking back and forth on your seat, trying to squeeze a long hard deuce out and it just refuses to come out, or in the case of the ball: it refuses to go in the fucking net. Go in the net. It’s your home, ball. Go to your home.

How can a game end 0-0? Riddle me that. That’s not a game. That’s a two-team aerobic workout. I don’t buy tickets to a sporting event to see nothing happen, with no clear winner determined. Unbelievable, these people.

I wish I had the appreciation internationals have for the “beautiful game”: its precision, its finesse, its teamwork, its short bursts of speed and athleticism… its flopping theatrics. As a fan of the NBA, and more specifically of the San Antonio Spurs, I’ve tried very hard to find joy in seeing players dive to the ground when somebody gently  brushes by them. I just don’t like it. That’s not sports to me.

Those are really the only two beefs I have with soccer. Not enough scoring and the diving is gay**. The rest is pretty sweet. I’m having fun witnessing this cultural international soccer experience in this here hostel. In fact, I’m gonna log off this wretched computer right now. What the hell am I doing? I’d better grab a beer and really immerse myself in this live phenomenon. I’m gonna damn well enjoy myself. But let’s get one thing clear: I’m not gonna come home and tell everybody I’m so into soccer. Like I said, I know nothing about it.

*Here’s a random social observation for you: Among the 50-odd Brazilians (aged 20-30) in this room, not a single one is a black Brazilian. All of European descent. What does that tell you about their poverty gap?

From Wikipedia.org: “Brazil has the largest black population outside of Africa with, in 2008, 6.84% classifying themselves as preto (Black) and 43.80% as pardo (Brown)[7], for a total of 50.64%.”

**Two main features of San Antonio Spurs basketball, coincidentally.

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9 Responses to “41. Not knowing a thing about soccer”

  1. anon says:

    Do a post on Kabul… I’m staying there this summer…

  2. mike says:

    One thing I’ve learned over time is it’s more about having a team to cheer for or a group to cheer with (and alcohol) than the sport itself. I’ve never been a fan of hockey but loved that Canada-USA Olympic final. Hated soccer growing up but love cheering on Korea in a crowd of Koreans, throwing my daughter in the air when they score. Find baseball boring, but again, love watching Korea with Koreans whenever they’re in a world tournament or the olympics. Boxing is very boring, but not when Pacquiao’s fighting. Shiet, the list goes on and on all the way to SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING! or even ping pong.

  3. misspyg says:

    This post is complete crap. Being a Canadian myself, and not knowing sh*t about soccer either, I prefer calling it football, not because I think I’m cool because I now live in Europe, but because it is the original name, and a much superior game to that crap Americans and Canadians have been playing for the last I-don’t-know-how-many years. You know, the one that’s watched and played by mental midgets.

    Soccer a two-team aerobic workout? At least it shows their athletic ability! And don’t forget you can actually watch a game on tv without being hassled by advertising every 5 minutes (or should I say commercials, sans lame accent).

  4. Maya says:

    hey dude, i totally agree, football is lame… yeah, we do call it football at home. hell, we even managed to form a team that actually played in the world cup (remember “pastierska kapsa”? 😀 … or, translated word by word, shepard’s bag). and i still know shit about football. but, what’s quite weird, i’m in bangladesh right now and people suddenly know slovakia! and a lot of them feel like sharing their ideas on what did slovak team do wrong. it’s kinda annoying. seems like football brings that out a lot! (annoyment of all sorts).

  5. Tom says:

    Mate seriously, im worried about you.
    Should people really not make to effort to enjoy new things and just stay with the interests they were brought up with? Jesus how boring…

    You only live once, give everything a try, id rather look like a douche than be sitting on my deathbed with a huge list of things i never did because i was too scared about looking dumb…

  6. Con says:


    well, first I am Canadian and having been playing soccer my whole life and now live in Europe and am getting even paid to play. I do call it soccer and North America is not the only place in the world that calls it soccer, in fact football isn’t the only other name for soccer.

    As far as the scoring goes, the problem with basketball is its so easy to score, they run back and forth scoring every few minutes to the point that scoring becomes largely irrelevant to the game. Their just waiting to score last.

    Soccer and every sport for that matter is beautiful for the amassed skill and finesse that an athlete has to put into performing a move or creating the opportunity for their team to score (not the only reason and a very individualist way of looking at it). However, I am with you on diving. Shits weak, if it were hockey and someone dove, another player would come over and punch him in the face and he wouldn’t dive again… This problem is largely a result of the referees, they could be harder and change the rules slightly to align soccer back with its honest roots. Look at a rugby game (both games were at one time one and the same) you will have a 4 foot ref have a 7foot monster defer and immediately do as the ref asks.

    Also off topic, but, I didn’t like this post. I don’t like people pretending to be what their not, and I don’t like diving. But all you have shown is your ignorance for the game, which you made more clear as you went on; more than that you hide behind the idea that your just stereotyping. Please don’t claim to represent Canada, as your probably from Southern Ontario, and don’t represent Quebcois, Albertans, British Columbians, or Newfies, as much as a french European doesn’t represent an Italian..

    FYI if you look at the different leagues of soccer, some of them are harder on diving, quite viscious and have lots of scoring… Champions League, Premiership…

  7. Derek g says:

    Just find it funny that you\’re a spurs fan but hate the diving. 🙂 …sup ginobili???

  8. Poon says:

    Haha exactly. I’m a Spurs fan, but Ginobili’s diving always annoyed even me.

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