Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Football Friday Volume I

Greetings, Total Drekkers!

I know some of you are big fans of Drek's Turner Tuesday (1-2-3), the weekly-ish feature where Drek examines The Turner Diaries, the novel-cum-terrorist-instruction-manual that inspired many a hero for the racist, racist cause.

Drek's insightful analysis and trenchant wit, combined with the fascinating subject matter, makes for quality blogging. But the worst about humanity, week after week, can be hard to take. So I am declaring a new weekly feature about something less evil, but still with importance to the world. So welcome to "Football Friday," in which "football" is just a fancy European name for soccer.

I am risking the wrath, or at least the annoyance, of the lovely TDEC. Poor TDEC. She is one of the few Europeans that couldn't care less about soccer. She thought that by meeting a nice American boy, she could escape from the sport. But no, this American boy happens to be a huge soccer fan. Sorry, TDEC, it's too late to escape now.

My interest in soccer started with the 1994 World Cup, held in my home nation, the United States. As an American boy, it was something new and fresh and different. I watched devotedly, right up until the exciting final that ended 0-0, and was decided on penalty kicks. Brazil won 3-2 for a record fourth World Cup title.

My soccer-loving existence continued at the 1996 Olympics, when I sat in a section of 1,000 screaming Hungarian fans at a match between Hungary and Nigeria. The fans waved Hungarian flags and sang Hungarian songs. I had no idea what they were saying, but I was caught up in the excitement, and I ended up cheering wildly for Hungary. I was hooked.

Later, I even played soccer myself - I played freelance goalkeeper for various intramural teams at Major East Coast University.

So why do I like soccer so much? First, it's simple. There are 11 players on each team. The goal is to put a ball into your opponents' net. But you can't use your hands. That would be too easy. Instead, players kick the ball or hit it with their heads. Only one player on the field is allowed to use his or her hands - the goalkeeper, whose job it is to keep the ball out of the net at all costs. There are various fouls. If your team has been fouled, you get a free kick. If the foul was serious enough, the offender gets a card. A yellow card is a warning. A red card means you're ejected from the game. If you're ejected by a red card, your team can't replace you.* Of course, this means your team must play the rest of the game with only 10 players, and will be pissed at you after the game. Two yellow cards equal a red card.

Second, in spite of this simplicity - or more likely because of this simplicity - soccer is great fun. The Brazilians, who play as well as anyone in the world, refer to soccer as "o jogo bonito" - the beautiful game. Watching a forward weave through an entire defense, or a curling free kick, or a tough save from a goalkeeper, it's easy to see why.

Third, soccer is one of the few institutions that the entire world shares. It's the most popular sport in Europe, Africa, China, and most of South America. Even the USA is starting to catch on. In spite of all the differences, many of which lead to violence, the whole world enjoys a good game of soccer.

Fourth, soccer provides a great window to the world. Sports have always been a screen onto which the world projects its thoughts and feelings. American author Franklin Foer wrote a book, which I have just finished, which claims that soccer explains the world. I'll be talking a lot more about these cultural projections in future Football Friday posts.

Stay tuned for next Football Friday, where I'll provide a quick tour of the soccer-playing world.

*Pedantic exception: If the goalkeeper gets a red card, the team can substitute its backup goalkeeper, as long as another player sits out in their stead. But in all my years of soccer fandom and playerdom, I've only seen this happen once.


Blogger TDEC said...

I am a miracle of Zenlikeness, which is fortunate for you.
As such I will only observe your misguided affection for what is quite possibly the world's dullest sport from my higher spiritual level.
Alternatively I could just go to sleep.

Friday, October 21, 2005 8:46:00 AM  
Blogger Drek said...

And here I'd always thought that baseball was the world's dullest sport.

Of course, I actually like baseball, but that isn't the point...

Friday, October 21, 2005 3:53:00 PM  

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