Why Soccer Blows


I’ve always loved how, whenever it’s time for the World Cup to come around again, that the homegrown apologists feel the need to bemoan the lack of interest Americans have in the world’s most popular sport. It’s almost as if they’re embarrassed that we don’t appreciate something the rest of the world seems to enjoy so much.

Before I get to why soccer blows, I’d like to answer some accusations by the soccer myrmidons…

  • Americans hate soccer because it’s considered Eurocentric…While I’ve heard a few people bash soccer for this reason, I don’t think it’s a legitimate criticism of most anti-soccer-ites. Americans are very accepting of foreign ideas, products, etc., as long as they’re considered interesting, useful, or beneficial to some degree, none of which soccer is. Most people consider rock music to be American but most of the really popular artists in that genre over the years have been from England. Strike one.
  • Americans hate soccer because the score isn’t high enough…That isn’t completely accurate. While a low scoring game can be very interesting in many ways, it gets kind of monotonous after awhile. I’m a huge baseball fan and I love to watch a well pitched game. However, I don’t want to see a 1-0 or 2-1 game every time out. There’s something to be said for variety. Strike two.
  • The rest of the world likes it, why shouldn’t Americans?…This is perhaps the most uttered smear against us supposed drooling, knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing  neanderthals. “Why, if the rest of the world is intelligent enough to understand soccer, why can’t Americans understand it?” Let’s get this straight…We who do not find soccer all that interesting understand the game. We just don’t find it that terribly exciting to watch. Oh…I forgot one thing. The above phrase is usually uttered along with some kind of slam against rednecks, a feigned southern accent, and a token reference to some kind of cheap domestic brew being held by the ignorant American while they simultaneously spit their chewing tobacco and pontificate upon the finer points of southern culture. Strike three…(we in America consider that to be an out).

Without further ado, I present to you my intolerant yet well-thought-out views on why soccer blows…

  • Lack of meaningful action…While the game has its moments, it’s by and large played horizontally. Though that’s not boring in and of itself, the monotony can be mind numbingly boring. This horizontal play is occasionally interrupted by brief spurts of vertical ineptitude. Yes, there is the token breakaway blitz down the field but, for the most part, the east-west action is way too dominant.
  • The mystery of the game clock…Similar to playing Clue, the only one who knows the official time of the game is the referee. Why? The coaches of the two teams can keep track but even then, they often have to check their time with the referee to make sure they are close to being in sync. Do us all a favor and get an official timekeeper. It’s not that difficult.
  • Extra time???…So not only is the referee the only person in the entire stadium who really knows what time it is but he can also arbitrarily tack on whatever amount of time he feels like. The fans aren’t torqued up enough on cheep beer? Well, just add another ten or fifteen minutes until the hooligans are in full riot mode.
  • Cards…If I want to see cards on television, I’ll watch something a poker tournament on ESPN (and I’ll rant about how that’s not a sport and shouldn’t be on ESPN, either, but I digress…). How about moving into the 21st century and just mic the ref? Refs are able to speak, right?
  • Tie it up…There’s nothing more anticlimactic then watching a good game and, yes, even the occasional interesting soccer match, only to have it end in a tie half the time. How about if the game ends in a tie in regulation (or whenever it is the referee decides the thing is over), they just follow the example of their fans and duke it out at midfield. Then whatever team has the last player standing wins. Not only that but then the players will have something more in common with their fans.
  • Wussy athletes…I’m not disputing that most soccer players are well-conditioned athletes. They flat-out are. However, I’m beginning to think that, in order to play soccer, a man must relinquish his man card and go into death throes after any remotely painful injury. Honestly, I think pro basketball players are even bigger babies but come on…Suck it up and play the game, for heaven’s sake. I’ve seen girls on my daughter’s softball team take bigger hits than these “guys” and still get up and finish the game, all without carrying on like they just had their leg amputated. Oh, and don’t give me that bullcrap about how soccer players run 4277.6 miles every match. There’s just as much standing around and doing nothing by the average soccer player as I see in an NBA game. Anyway, I think soccer players should have to watch that footage of NFL QB Joe Theismann’s leg snapping like a pretzel before every game. Then maybe they can learn a lesson on what real pain is.
  • Jerseys of a different color…What’s so special about the goalie that he has to stand out from everyone else on his team? Perhaps they should wear something much more appropriate like, say, a Snuggie.
  • Don’t get your hands dirty…Why is it, again, that the goalie is the only privileged player when it comes to the use of hands during the match?
  • Hooligan…There’s a reason why this term is now most often used to describe someone who engages in some not-so-nice behavior following a soccer match.

For those of you who’ve made it this far, I don’t really hate soccer. It was okay to play when I was in high school but that doesn’t make it fun to watch. I’m a big baseball fan but I don’t expect everyone else to find it interesting, nor does it bother me if someone hates it, makes fun of it, etc. I just find it really fun to tweak the soccer snobs every now and then.

By the way, basketball is a faster-growing sport than soccer, so deal with it!

With tongue planted firmly in cheek…

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Forty-One


On Father’s Day, one of my gifts was a few hours of down time and solitude, something that particularly recharges my personal batteries. As part of that down time, I watched one of my favorite all-time movies, “Ben-Hur“. The 1959 film went on to win eleven Academy Awards, which has only been equaled by two other films, “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”.

The most famous  scene in the movie is that of the violent chariot race near the very end of the movie in which Judah Ben-Hur triumphs over his childhood friend turned enemy, Messala, who dies afterward  from injuries sustained in the race. This time through, however, the scene that stood out to me the most was one I had noticed before but, honestly, hadn’t thought much of. The scene comes during the middle of the movie.

Messala, as vengeance for Judah’s refusal to betray his people, assigned Judah to be a galley slave in the Roman navy. In this particular scene, Judah had already been serving in the galleys for over three years when he was assigned to the ship of Consul Quintus Arrias. As Arrias tests the slaves on his ship, Judah, referred to by Arrias as “Forty-One” wins his trust by his restraint and self-discipline. As the ship enters battle, Arrias orders all the slaves to be chained in preparation for battle, all that is except for Judah. During the battle, the ship is rammed by an enemy ship. As the enemies flood the ship and hand-to-hand combat commences, Arrias is knocked overboard in the scuffle. Judah jumps into the water and pulls Arrias to safety. They are later rescued by another ship in the fleet and find out that the Roman fleet had indeed been victorious.

As Arrias walks towards the back of the ship, he takes Judah with him and they begin to pass by the area where the galley slaves can be seen below, living out their miserable existence in monotony as they row away what little life they have left in them. Having been freed from his rowing duties by Arrias, Judah stops and gazes at them in their suffering, as if he longs for their freedom yet knowing that most of them will not survive.

This scene reminded me of what Jesus Christ has done for each and every one of us. He came to earth, lived as one of us, was tempted as we are tempted (Hebrews 4:15), yet was obedient to God the Father even to the point of giving up his own life in exchange for ours. Not only that but he proved his divinity by literally rising from the dead (Romans 10:9). That’s how he freed us from sin and its ultimate consequence, hell.

I pray that God’s Spirit will continually remind me that He’s freed me from the chain that kept me bound to the oar and, as Judah Ben-Hur looked down on those still afflicted and in chains longing for their freedom, that he would give me a heart ever-softening for those Christ is leading me to minister to. By God’s grace, I am no longer a “Forty-One”.

Spill, Baby Spill!


I’m sure someone else has already used the title of this post, most likely a liberal who nearly has a coronary at the sight or sound of Sarah Palin. Then again, Palin’s voice really is sort of annoying but the thought of a progressive being that bent out of shape over a conservative woman really warms my heart. {wink, wink}

Now some random points on the spill…

  • The spill is BP’s fault. Period.
  • The lion’s share of the blame for the lack of a response to the spill is the federal government’s. That blame starts at the top. President Obama didn’t initially treat this with the importance that it deserved.
  • Environmentalists be damned…The spill needs to be cleaned up ASAP. Get some people down there and start cleaning this thing up. We don’t need to waste weeks or even days, for that matter, putting together and waiting for studies to see what is going to be the safest cleanup. I’ve seen several demos of processes that could work to clean up this thing. Pick one and do it. If that doesn’t work, pick another one.
  • The Bush administration had no part in this whatsoever. Obama has been just as or more cozy with “Big Oil” as Bush was. Get over it and assess blame where it’s due.
  • Let’s get this straight…Obama said he hadn’t yet talked to BP’s CEO because “he’s going to say all the right things to me”? Umm…What does that mean? This is the same guy who said the police “acted stupidly” before having any evidence to support his claim or even talking to the police, for that matter. Good call, Mr. President.
  • The only thing the Obama administration has done right during this whole fiasco is keeping a muzzle on The Gaffer.
  • The cap and trade legislation sucks. I’m just sayin’…
  • Not even two years into his Presidency, Obama already seems to have more acronyms used in reference to him than any other President: POTUS, SCOTUS, TOTUS, and now…AKOTUS.
  • Perhaps if Obama spent less time trying to sound tough and finding someone’s ass to kick, we might actually be getting somewhere.

By the way, all this “Boycott BP!” business is worthless. You’ll only succeed in hurting the “little” guy who owns the station and, in the end, BP won’t notice it any more than an elephant notices a tick in its hide.

 

 

Those Crazy, Violent, and Racist Congressmen…


Politicians and pundits alike have spent much of the past two years belittling, slandering, and basically just flat-out lying about the members of the Tea Party movement. Tea Partiers have been called basically every name in the book in an Alinsky-esque attempt at torpedoing the movement. There’ve even been  attempts by some leftists at infiltrating the loosely-organized party as if it’s some secretive organization bent on destroying America, in an attempt to collapse it from within by posing as simpletons, racists, hatemongers, and purveyors of violence. For more information on that, see my post titled “Tea Party Crashers”.

Anyway, while those same lefties have been busy floundering in their efforts to produce barely a scrap of evidence to support their claims against the Tea Party movement, it seems as if they should just concentrate on actual evidence of such thuggery from within their own ranks. Case in point, Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-NC). Check out the following video of his assault on a college student simply attempting to ask him a question…

Obviously, the student isn’t seriously injured during the incident but you’d better believe that this would make headlines in many major newspapers and would certainly flare up anti-Tea Party sentiments on the major networks once again if it were a member of that party physically assaulting a politician.

Remember the claims that Tea Party protesters were shouting racial slurs at some black Congressmen back when the healthcare reform vote was occurring? I’ve yet to see any video or hear any audio backing up those claims. It was such a major protest and well publicized that you’d think someone somewhere would at least have recorded some audio of those slurs or recorded even a small amount of video of the occurrence.

I think it’s time to concentrate on real evidence of stupidity, hatred, and violence from those crazy Congressmen, don’t you?

 

Madness in Manhattan


Let’s see…If you had to choose between allowing a mosque to be built near ground zero in New York City or allowing the Empire State Building’s lights to be lit in honor of Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday, which would you pick? Or framed a different way, what would you do if you had to make a decision between a religion with a history of VIOLENCE towards innocent people and a person with a history of KINDNESS towards innocent people?

In the past month or so, some denizens of Manhattan have made two vastly contradictory decisions. On May 25th, the New York City Community Board voted almost unanimously to allow a mosque and cultural center to be built very near ground zero. Now it’s been announced that the Empire State Building’s owner is refusing to allow the lights on the famous tower to be lit in honor of what would be the 100th birthday of Mother Teresa on August 26th.

According to owner Anthony E. Malkin…

The Empire State Building celebrates many cultures and causes in the world community with iconic lightings, and has a tradition of lightings for the religious holidays of Easter, Eid al Fitr (marking the end of Ramadan), Hanukkah, and Christmas.

Despite the tradition of lighting the building up for these other religious events, Malkin also states that the privately-owned building…

has a specific policy against any other lighting for religious figures or requests by religions and religious organizations.

However, the Catholic League, which requested that the lights be lit in honor of Mother Teresa, pointed out that those lights indeed have been previously lit in honor of other religious figures including Cardinal John O’Connor and Pope John Paul II. Those same lights were even lit in red and yellow last year in honor of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the building. Those colors happen to be the same as those of communist China.

Honestly, since the building is privately-owned, the owner can do whatever he pleases with the building’s lights. However, considering that his decision seems to be rather hypocritical, I hope he reconsiders his decision.