Things I Learned About Soccer While Trying to Watch the World Cup

by | Jun 20, 2014 | 7 Quick Takes | 38 comments

1. Sometimes when someone on the team for which you are rooting scores a goal, it’s a good thing. Everyone is happy. Horns sound. Chants are chanted. Instead of far away camera shots of tiny guys playing soccer on TV, you get far away camera shots of tiny, deliriously happy fans. But other times, someone on your team scores a goal and everyone is mad. And there is no chanting. And the goalie yells what are probably foreign swear words at him.

2. It’s always cold in Soccer. You’ll need a scarf.

3. When you are a soccer player, everything pokes your eye out. Whether it’s getting kicked in the shin or shoved in the torso, it pokes your eye out. It also probably blows out your knee. But it definitely pokes your eye out. Sometimes the poked out eyes and blown out knees are healed by being put on a magic stretcher. Sometimes they are sprayed by a magical healing spray. Sometimes the little guy just realizes that all the other little guys are a block away down the field and they just miraculously heal themselves and start heading over there.

4. Soccer players often seem to have severe and immediate medical reactions to scoring goals. They rip their shirts off in distress. They fall down and writhe on the ground. They run in circles, apparently very dizzy. This is perhaps why they are all so loath to score goals. Goals and points are not required for soccer. Entire games can go by without anyone on either team scoring a goal and people will find it acceptable. People on TV will even talk about how inspired was the play of all those guys who didn’t score any soccer goals. Also, soccer people don’t seem to mind if no one wins the game. They are even willing to accept a scenario in which points are not scored AND no one wins. In a sport.

5. Yet, somehow — and I’m still trying to make sense of this part — somehow, the soccer players themselves are really, really shocked each time they DON’T score a goal. Even though almost no one ever scores a goal. Everyone watching knows that nobody ever scores goals, they’re fine with it. But each time one of the players kicks the ball in the direction of the goal, and it doesn’t go in, because it almost never does, he shrieks heavenward, with his hands on his head, as if he thought that scoring a goal was a thing that routinely happened in soccer games.

6. If you leave the room to go to the bathroom or get something to eat, you will miss the thing that happens that soccer game. It’s probably going to be the only thing that happens the whole game, and you will have missed it.

7. No one knows when soccer games end, not even the people playing them. It is one of life’s great mysteries. The Voynich Manuscript. Where the missing socks go in the dryer. The Holy Trinity. When soccer games end. I think maybe it’s just not something we’re supposed to understand.

Happy soccer everyone.

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Check out the rest of the Quick Takers at Kathryn’s this week!


    • Micaela Darr

      Oh, and one note: I think it actually IS winter in Brazil? Not that scarves are probably necessary at any point during the year there. But technically.

  1. Isabelle Lubbock

    Love the American perspective, makes me feel like football is not as inescapable as it looks from our side of the pond.
    #3 : That's why they created rugby – "Is that your ear I see dangling?" "No worries, that's nothing, I can totally play!"
    (also, I have been told that the US team doesn't dive with enough Am Dram when there's a foul, so the referee doesn't award them half the penalties they are owed)
    Aaaaand, that's officially way too much about football in one comment!

  2. Sophie שרה Golden

    Another European here 😀

    Never understood why Americans call "our" football soccer, which takes 100% feet, while "your" American football is also called football, when you can use your hands and all, right?

    Anyway, football is a sacred matter over here in Germany and hope we win this year, enough is enough! :0)

  3. Charlotte (WaltzingM)

    This cracked me up! I read some of it to my husband and it cracked him up and let me tell you… he's the guy that is usually cracking people up, so that's a huge compliment! He asked me to send it to him in email so he can show the guys at work who are huge soccer fans. Get ready for this to go viral, darlin'!

  4. Theresa Breslin

    AHHH hahaha! The art of the flop! This is too good. But technically it is winter in Brazil, no? The scarves are seasonally appropriate 😉

  5. Anonymous

    This is fantastic. I will share. When I get home. If I remember. I hope I do, because this is gold.

  6. Madeline

    I think we are secretly humor soul mates. I shared a similar sentiment on my blog yesterday.

    • Madeline

      And yes. It is winter in Brazil. But the 10 day forecast ranges from mid 60s-low 80s. So… scarves are still irrelevant to the weather.

  7. Melissa

    This made me literally laugh out loud (and wake the sleeping baby on my chest, oops).

  8. Nanacamille

    The only thing redeeming about soccer is when it's played by 4 & 5 year old who are so cute out there you actually enjoy the game. Anita's team actually scored some goals this year something the pros don't seem able to do and one of them was hers. . Luckily no clothing was removed in the scoring of that goal but she did run around the field and to the fans with arms outstretched and a huge smile on her face. That's soccer and that's fun. You can have all of those magic stretcher pros and those nil nil ties. Boring is all I can say.

  9. Amanda

    yes, yes to all of this 🙂 My son is a soccer player but I am making it my personal mission in life to raise him to be a tough, not-wussy soccer player.

  10. Grete

    This is great, Kendra. I was thinking the same thing about the big crybaby players. I guess their moms didn't have a crying babies go to bed policy like you.

  11. Cat

    I played soccer in high school (I was terrible, they just needed some extra girls on the team), and I agree with all of this. I went to a game once in college where the final score was 0-0, and I left disappointed. Maybe I should have left and gone to the bathroom just to make something happen.

  12. Unknown

    This is Mike, Abby's lesser half.

    1. Flopping in soccer is no worse than flopping in the NBA. It's bad, but not uniquely bad.

    2. American football is for statists. Also, you can have a tie in American football.

    3. Basketball is for people with a 24 second attention span.

    4. Baseball is… I don't know. The most boring human endeavor ever conceived.

    5. Hockey is for people that can't do anything for more than 90 seconds at a time.

    6. Soccer is beautiful. It requires imagination and creativity. Once the whistle blows, the coach can't do much. The players are left to their own devices, with limited rules. Soccer is for libertarians. We take responsibility for our own actions and determine our own fate.

    • Unknown

      I have more to say, but Abby told me this is a "lady blog".

    • Kendra

      6. How do libertarians feel about faking injury for profit?

      7. I'm trying. I really am. I've been watching Argentina and Iraq not score any goals just this morning.

    • Unknown

      6. I know lots of players (mostly foreigners…) who have no (moral) issues with flopping. But simulation/diving and time wasting are both against the rules. Unless he thinks a rule is unnecessary or unjust, I'm guessing a libertarian would be in favor of rule enforcement. If the refs and governing bodies won't enforce the rules, then they are incentivizing bad behavior. But the market can fix that!! Did you see Fred's flop in the box that gave Brazil it's opening goal? As a player, I would have taken care of that myself by showing him a real foul the next time he had the ball. I collected a lot of yellows as a kid…

      7. I could see a non-soccer fan not enjoying the Argentina/Iran game, but the context made it exciting. Argentina should have run away with that game. They needed to win and the pressure on the players was incredible as the minutes ticked away. You could see the tension, and the mistakes for Argentina – missed finishes, bad crosses, bad first touches- were mounting. Iran, on the other hand, was playing for one of their greatest international results ever. They pressed forward and had exciting chances in the second half. And then, MESSI IN THE 92nd MINUTE!!! The excitement/relief of that goal was in the build up – the prior 90 minutes of frustration and fear.

      But at the end of the day, it was just group play. It's like 1 vs 16 in March Madness. Those games are usually blow outs and boring. Argentina/Iran should have been boring. But this game, because of the lack of scoring, wasn't boring.

  13. Faith E. Hough

    I have no idea when soccer games end. But the socks in the dryer are definitely snatched up by borrowers. 🙂 I have it on the highest authority (my 7-year-old) that they are used for sleeping bags.

    • Kendra

      Well, that's good to know. Now if he could just decipher that manuscript . . .

  14. Jane

    Goodness, if you think that there is no end in soccer, don't even attempt to try to watch the NHL's games. At least there seems to be a 5-minute cap on the time added at the end of each half.

    I love your eye-poking observation. I think every soccer fan can snort in laughter over that one 🙂 We told our son that they're also actors who like making things looks worse than they actually are. He seemed to think that was legit.

  15. Suzy

    Lol! This post is so, so great, Kendra. I'm working on warming up to this crazy game though, because my Costa Rican husband somehow thinks it's the best thing since the Holy Spirit!

    • Suzy

      Sorry for the double comment – I added a picture to my profile for the second one… Trying to be a good commenter here 🙂

  16. Tamara

    So today when Portugal tied the game against the US with 30 seconds left in the game, and therefore my husband was seriously bummed, I tried to console him that it was okay- the game wasn't over yet, and they could still win it in OT. … But apparently there's no overtime in soccer. So a big moment like that and its just over! Nobody won! Couldn't believe it either. (Clearly I have not been paying attention to this whole World Cup…)

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