Soccer fever! OK, OK, I’m kinda getting it. Here are some of the things from FIFA’s big show—Fédération Internationale de Football Association—that have sunk in and sucked me over to the dark side.
1. Vuvuzelas! At first, these cheap, plastic, psuedo-horns spooked me. Bothered me. Annoyed me. I didn’t understand. Now, I do. I understand that there’s nothing to understand! Just make some noise and be a part of the hive, pilgrim! In fact, I now think there will be something missing if I ever watch a soccer game without their steady, comforting drone.
And it’s not just that angry bee-swarming sound that’s made me a convert to the vuvuzela way of life. It’s the word itself. Look at it. Vuvuzela. As a Van Dyke, I’ve had great affection for the end of the alphabet throughout my existence, and this word is loaded up! The first five letters, man! Fantastic! Which means vuvuzela is the new champ in my personally strange yet prized category of “words containing the most post-‘T’ letters,” a category previously dominated by such superb words as vulva, uvula, Zulu and zymurgy. And finally, one can only wonder … do they blow vuvuzelas in Venezuela?
2. There are no television timeouts in soccer. How awesome is that? The game starts and it’s on, uninterrupted, until the half is over, 45 minutes later. Guys like me, who routinely Tivo/DVR sporting events, building up great blocks of time so as to breezily fast forward through the frequent commercial breaks, have discovered that such digital shenanigans are basically unnecessary when it comes to soccer. (Yet, Tivo does have its place to see if the scoreboard ever budges.)
3. The British announcers who do the play-by-play for the games are generally a refreshing change. Hell, a few of them sound like Eric Idle, which makes me pleased on a subconscious level. Classic Python bits keep bubbling up to the surface while I watch the games.
4. We here in America tend to think of soccer as wimpy, especially when compared to our football. After getting Fifatized now for the last couple of weeks, I now stand ready to completely reject and reassess this typically fatheaded and xenophobic point of view. I mean, these guys are getting clipped out there on the pitch! If you’re a soccer player, every part of your body below your waist better be tough as an IHOP steak sandwich if you’re gonna be worth a damn out there. Your feet are constantly getting stomped, your knees cracked, your shins splinted, and your Achilles tendons trampled on a regular basis. There’s nothing wimpy about it. And then there are all those coconut-cracking skull wars, also known as headers.
5. I still have no freakin’ clue as to what constitutes offsides. Wikipedia, here I come.