The most exciting and anticipated weeks of summer drew to a close yesterday when Germany took the World Cup by a narrow 1-0 win over Argentina. Futbol (or as we backwards Americans call it, soccer) is the one team sport I actually enjoy watching. Like the American mis-named football (where the ball is mostly carried by hand), basketball, baseball, and hockey, it does take a team to win it.
In June, columnist Ann Coulter wrote an article blasting soccer, calling it a “sign of the nation’s moral decay.” Although soccer/futbol can be boring, the 2014 World Cup proved many of her points erroneous.
First, Ann claims that individual achievements are no big factor. Along with that, she claims there are no heros. Ann, doubting people, and world, meet Germany’s Miroslav Klose, who holds the record of 16 goals scored in World Cup games. And speaking of Germany, “Super Mario” Goetze, kicked the goal that won Duetschland’s title. This single shot is now called “the goal heard around the world.”
Now, on to us Americans, who are improving their skills in the World’s Game. My man, goalkeeper Tim Howard, earned his own Sweet Sixteen, by blocking 16 shots in a single match from Belgium. This is the most he’s stopped in his career, and the most attempts blocked in the World Cup in a single game since the 1950′s. If Tim hadn’t been such an epic hero, the Belgium-U.S. game would have looked more like the Germany-Brazil stomping.
And lastly on Ann’s point of there being no individual achievements in soccer, yes, there is an MVP award. Lionel Messi of Argentina was awarded with the trophy, along with the Golden Glove award presented to the German tank goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer. Though us Americans will argue that Tim Howard deserved that coveted Glove.
Ann indicates that there are no “humiliations” or major injuries in soccer. Well, if you didn’t pay attention to the matches of the 2014 World Cup, pay attention now. American team captain Clint Dempsey and Jermaine Jones, midfielder, both sustained broken noses. Jozy Altidore tore his hamstring in the first U.S. match and did not play for the rest of the tournament. Alvaro Pereira of Uruguay took a knee to the head and was knocked out cold, lying unresponsive on the ground. In the final match, Germany’s Christoph Kramer took a jarring hit to the head that sent him spiraling to the ground, and he may have a concussion. He appeared very dazed after bouncing off the opponent’s shoulder and a few minutes later, required assistance off the field. And, oh yeah….
No humiliations in front of millions of people? This year, the host team of Brasil was crushed by the Germans. The German team played with absolute precision, and the sloppy and impulsive Brazilian team was no match for them. This video about sums up the 7-1 score game :
The host nation sadly left the field that day knowing they had let their entire country down, playing on their own home grounds. And they did it in front of millions of people. Then during the final match, a BILLION spectators watched Argentina’s Messi miss his free kick. He was so disappointed that he appeared to not look fans in the eye when accepting his MVP award.
And obviously football is not played with your hands. ITS WHY THE WORLD CORRECTLY CALLS IT FOOTBALL. The absence of being able to catch the ball makes footballers use specific athletic skills to carry it down the field.
Perhaps this comparison to America’s favorite past time will help non-football (soccer) fans understand the excitement: If you enjoy baseball, you find it exciting that people stand in a diamond shaped field and wait for a ball to come their way. You hold your breath once the bat cracks the leather ball, sending it soaring, anticipating that no one will catch it. You stand up and cheer when its a base hit or better yet, a home run.
The same goes for the real football. A defender kicks the ball past forwards, the midfield players pick it up and toggle it around their opponents. Then the correctly shaped ball is kicked to a forward, who skillfully pops it around shark-like defenders. Fans in the stands and at home stand up and clench their fists, heart racing, eyes unblinking and glued to the action. And lastly, the striker succeeds at kicking it past a 6-foot-plus, 200 pound goalkeeper with ninja reflexes. Nothing but Net.
So, you don’t like real football. And I don’t like American football. But don’t, for a second, think that it’s what has “demoralized” me. ;)