Tuesday, May 16, 2006

4/2/2006 - Onwards and Upwards

Now that the basketball season is unofficially over (Nets lose to Heat 4-1) let's move on to some other sport. How about soccer (or Football for my non U.S. readers).

I rather like the World Cup, which is coming up in about a month. Eventually, the U.S. should dominate about any international sport in which they enter. We shouldn't win every year, because all sports involve some aspect of luck with regards to injuries or other such conditions, but we should do well. We have more people than most countries against whom we compete and we have a well funded training program that identifies (and glorifies) athletic ability from incredibly early ages, segregates it, and develops it.

Side note - I was playing baseball with my eldest in the park the other day and some people stopped to watch, feeling that it was just a cute scene to witness. Then my 4-year old hit the pitched ball about 100 feet and they gasped. Can he read like his cousin? No. Can he add or multiply? No. Will hitting things with bats serve him well in life? I hope not. And yet, a crowd of strangers marveled at this otherwise irrelevant skill (as did his dad).

Soccer is a little different because we came late to it. Sure, all American kids played some soccer growing up, but only to pass time between baseball, football, basketball, hockey, tennis, badminton, golf, kayakking, lawn darts, croquet and caber-tossing. We don't quite get the sport so it doesn't quite capture us.

But with the rise of the globalisation of the media, we have come to understand how much soccer has captured the other 5.5B citizens of this planet. And as a result, we are a late entrant into the upper echelons of the sport, which suits me to a T.

We are still new enough that we can take hard losses at the hands of Poland. But we are also good enough that we can pull off suprising victories over teams like Germany (although maybe not on their home turf). That's about the right level of skill. Swept up in the fervor of Nationalistic pride, I want to root for my team in the Cup. But not if they're going to win all the time.

On the way home from work, I heard an interesting story about John Cleese. Cleese, of Monty Python fame, has had plenty of success poking fun at the Germans. But now that the Cup is being played in Germany, and Germany will likely be invaded by plenty of rowdy English Soccer fans, he is feeling some remorse. As a result, he has released a new song called "Don't mention the war." So without further ado:

Don’t mention the war
That’s what football is for!
In 1966 we were the winning team
We’d rather not discuss what happened in-between
Don’t mention the war
Just get out there and score
At the glorious moment
When the lions roar
Don’t mention the war
Don’t mention the war
That’s what football is for!
They might have bombed our chipshop 60 years ago
But a billion pints of lager later, here we go (come on then!)
Don’t call them rude names
It’s such a beautiful game
At the glorious moment When the lions roar
Don’t mention the war
Don’t mention the war
Bend that ball round the wall
Instead of saving Poland we are scoring goals
After 40 years of extra time and bacon rolls (bacon rolls!)

12,700 offsides steps today. CHEERS!

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