Sunday, June 13, 2010

How To Watch Soccer: A Dumb Method for a Dumb Game

I have never liked soccer. I do not think my gym class in middle school ever got five minutes into a game of soccer before someone asked why we had to play this dumb game that does not allow you to use your hands. Everyone agreed and soon we were playing something similar, but sensible, like team handball. Like many Americans, you might be caught up in the mini-frenzy surrounding the latest iteration of the World Cup being played in South Africa.

If you have not watched a lot of soccer, you may be wondering how this game ever became popular in the first place. In the unlikely circumstance that you know any of their names, the players are still generally unrecognizable due to the wide camera angle required to cover the action on such an expansive playing field (a necessity caused by the relative lack of control that comes from using the feet to control a ball). If you have the patience to watch long enough to see a goal scored, you will likely be underwhelmed by its being scored on a penalty kick, a lucky carom, a shot off a player's head, or an embarrassing miscue by a goalie. "Quality" goals, where actual skill is rewarded, seem to be a rarity. The game appears to be a drawn-out series of mistakes, collisions, penalties, passes to no one, and balls going out of bounds.

Perhaps you have figured out that it is not that you just do not understand soccer, the problem is that soccer is indeed a dumb game. Any game where you cannot use your hands, your head is a ball-striking implement, and success is nearly impossible when the game is played properly just does not appeal to Americans used to games like football, baseball, and basketball where success is actually possible in the course of a well-played game. American sports actually have situations that unfold over the course of the game. This unlike soccer, where one minute of a game seems just like any other minute.

But you are still caught-up in the orgy of chauvinistic nationalism known as the World Cup--what to do? When I watched a player from Ghana get a bloody nose by diverting a ball kicked at point blank range with his face, an idea came to me. As I had been watching this game to ridicule the absurdity of the game, I thought why not turn watching soccer into a drinking game. What a perfect way to commemorate (and later forget totally) every dumb thing that happens in a soccer game.

Here are the rules:

Drink every time a player: falls down, hits a ball with his head, kicks a ball to no one.

Also drink every time the ball goes out of bounds.

If a kick to no one goes out of bounds, remember to drink twice.

Feel free add other drinking opportunities as the absurdity of the game unfolds before you. Although I think the above should provide the entertainment that a soccer game lacks as a sporting event.

N.B. This is humor (or an attempt at it), I do not recommend drinking games that include alcohol.