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JONESIE: Bring on the World Cup, just not the games

June 23, 2014 - 7:22 AM

I’m trying with this World Cup soccer, er, football thing, really I’m trying.

I only care because I have a few English friends and this seems somehow important to them. Or, well, it was important to them.

And because, well, the same way the world ignores soccer when Canadians play it on ice with sticks and a puck, it seems so odd that the entire world outside of North America lives and breathes for this stuff. So I figured I should try to understand it.

For those of you not aware—The World Cup is like a Quidditch tournament with all the qualifying countries of the world, except of playing on flying brooms, they just use one ball and stay on the ground.

But man: I don’t know how they do this. Watch football, I mean. Every time I try, I just see some version of this and fall asleep.

Mostly I just don’t get it. I watched a little of England vs. Uruguay. When Uruguay scored a goal to go up 2-1, the play-by-play guy acted like it was over. ‘There’s no way England can come back from this,’ he said. They still had like 10 minutes to play. Is three goals the maximum per game?

I don’t mean to deride the sport in favour of another, but... it’s just... did you watch any of the Stanley Cup playoffs this year? I didn’t see much and it still blew my mind. No lead was safe. The L.A. Kings came back from a 3-0 deficit in the first round before winning the Cup. The games were so fast, so good you didn’t need a home team in the games to make them thrilling. (Good thing eh, Canucks, Flames, Oilers, Jets, Leafs and Sens fans?)

I compare to hockey only because it’s a sport I choose to watch. It's not like I was one of those hockey kids. I played plenty of pond hockey and a disastrous two years of actual hockey but no more than I played soccer or basketball or golf or tennis or baseball or swimming. They are all fun to play. But to watch? Ugh.

I’m clearly not the only one who can’t get into this soccer thing. When the World Cup started, we tried to find anyone doing anything special for this World Cup and couldn’t even find a pub advertising beer specials for the games.

Canada is such an oddity for major sports, focussed as it is on hockey and professional sports to the exclusion of college and university or minor leagues. The U.S. goes nuts over March Madness college basketball and most Canadian sports fans couldn’t name a Canadian university sports team. And yet we can rarely get a major junior hockey game on television.

For me, sports is about the stories. Within a game is so much drama, but more so when you know the players, their stories, their challenges and how they overcame them before they step into the moment to win or lose. When it comes to World Cup, I know so little about the players, I have nothing to rally behind other than, ‘Oooo look at THEIR flag.’ And with so many players in the tournament, I don’t see that changing.

So if I am ever going to get into this thing or understand it, it’ll have to be stories and highlights. I’m sure there’s something to this soccer—5.5 billion people can’t be entirely wrong about it. But I’m not going to discover it by watching them pass a ball for 90 minutes with three short interruptions for GOOOOOOOOOOOALS.

—Marshall Jones is the editor of Info News.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
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