Home again, home again.
Yeah, it's been a bit. I've been raving away on Yahoo, both for Mother Country and for the rest of the world who are content to tell me, a total stranger, that I'm an idiot (there is a particular obsession about whether I've gone to high school or not. Well let me tell you I did, and I LOVED it!).
So here we are over a week into the Big Show and I've written nary a word here, unlike Mr. Phillips who continues to torment me with his prolific brilliance throughout this tournament. What to say about South Africa 2010? The World Cup narratives are spinning off like unknown bits and bobs out of the Hadron collider, and I feel at this point I'm on the verge of getting sucked into a black hole of media-driven speculation about which turn will evolve into which twist.
The centre will not hold, ladies and gentlemen, France and England are replaying A Tale of Two Cities in football form, a novel I just happened to be reading before the World Cup began; Spain and Portugal were terrible until they were not terrible anymore; African countries are refusing to acknowledge the occasion the world has been begging her to acknowledge for the last four years, and Dunga is unzipping his fly and taking a long, satisfying piss all over the legacy of 1970, won forty years ago today. Oh, and Maradona may be the best manager at the World Cup.
I'm already dizzy. No, that's not what I want to write about. What I want to tell you is that if you're American and you don't care about the World Cup, I really don't give a fat steaming shit about it. The apoplexy of those not in the soccer know asking what it will take for America to really, really finally oh pretty please just love soccer already is now just about more grating than the forty thousand vuvuzelas I sometimes dream are in my closet. The piercing, droning noise is coming from all sides, both here and England for some reason, who seem obsessed with the idea that their gimpy little cousins might finally take to their Best Sport in the World if the Yanks make, oh I don't know, the quarterfinals.
It seems some observers think Americans are incapable of enjoying soccer alongside other pastimes, as if there is this thick ledger line between soccer and "American sports," and once you cross the Rubicon, they're ain't no going back, cowboy. With us or against us. This is a bogus way of looking at things; it's so 2003. First of all, there is no such thing as "American sports." A Slovenian won the LA Lakers their seven thousandth NBA title the other night, and even in light of the US Slovenia 2-2 draw, @runofplay kept hammering it home on Twitter to no avail. Hockey, as one of my colleagues at Yahoo! pointed out the other day, is more popular in Slovakia than soccer. Baseball, like Tom Waits, is big in Japan.
Look—oh god, I'm going to have to write this—soccer is one of the most popular participation sports in the United States of America. Sure it's a kids sport, but enough of these kids get good, they're going to want to get better. And continue to get better. And they will demand the coaching to get better, and the facilities. And people quite good at making good soccer players better are going to take the envelope full of money, and the kids keep growing up, and little MLS is just going to annoyingly extrapolate upwards.
Does that mean soccer is going to "take America by storm" like those Africanized bees were supposed to some years back? No. You know who else doesn't give a shit if America loves soccer? MLS. And, thank Christ, American soccer fans. Even so, soccer will continue to be played in America by Americans, it will continue to be watched on American stations by passionate Americans packed in American bars. Soccer will not rescind its citizenship because Glenn Beck thinks it's gay. And it doesn't care if you think it's low-scoring, boring, features lots of diving, that the vuvuzelas are loud and what's the deal with Ronaldo's stupid face etc. etc. etc. It doesn't care if you think it's terrible compared to the Best League in the World, or that you don't know who Gooch is supposed to be.
The question about American soccer is not a question. You either like it or you don't, and liking it is not a preclusion to hating NASCAR or the NFL. And no, it's probably never going to be bigger than either sport in the USA. But if you don't like it soccer, don't waste column space telling us how we all told you you had to love it "or else." Nobody told you that, because nobody cares what you think (except maybe ESPN, but they can take it. Martin Tyler won't cry). You are stupid for saying anything. Be a grown-up. Turn off the TV. Or change the channel and watch Wimbledon. There. An American sport. Tennis.