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Mike Redmond Column

Please refer to the Mike Redmond Column main page for columns published in other issues.
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 World Cup Soccer is Pure Sport

Well, the World Cup is up and running, literally. Lot of running in that game. Seems like they’d get smart, strap on skates and play it on ice.

Anyway, what little watching I have done has left me with the distinct impression that this soccer stuff is going to catch on, one of these days.

I’m just kidding. I know soccer is the planet’s main game. I’m actually a big fan, and I like the World Cup almost as much as I like the hockey cup playoffs named for Stanley.

I like the purity of soccer – this is the ball, those are your feet, over that way is the goal, have at it and try not to (a.) use your hands or (b.) kill each other.

Now, I can’t say I understand everything about it. Goals, for instance. I know they’re few and far between, but is it really necessary for the guy who scores a goal to run around the stadium doing all that hugging? I’m not kidding. He kicks the ball into the net and he’s mobbed by all his teammates on the field. Then he runs over to the bench and he’s mobbed by all his teammates there. Then he goes across the field and hugs all those guys. Then he runs up in the stands and hugs Sections 107 through 121, Rows A through NN. Then he puts his shirt back on and they start playing again.

You never see this sort of behavior in other events, such as, oh, bridge tournaments.

Another thing you do not see, or more rightly hear, is that ceaseless racket in the background of every broadcast. It’s made by something called a vuvuzela (when it’s not being called a lepatata) and basically, it’s a horn that makes a sound described as a giant hive of very unfriendly bees. Or bees flat, since B-flat is the note produced.

Although the presently annoying version is South African, you see horns like this at soccer games all over the world except, of course, for pee wee league games at public parks on Saturday mornings, although I suppose it’s just a matter of time before some parent shows up with one. Which, now that I think about it, might be far preferable to some of the things parents shout at kiddie league games of all varieties.

One of things I enjoy about the World Cup is the fact that vuvuzela players from every corner of the globe descend on it. You see every variety of human available, and a few that I suspect haven’t yet been categorized by the anthropologists.

I used to work with a sports editor who made fun of soccer. If it wasn’t part of his big four – football, basketball, golf, auto racing – it was to be mocked. I guess he reasoned that the only real sports were the ones he considered American (never mind that golf originated in Scotland and race cars are worldwide).

But I also worked with a wire editor who reminded young reporters like me that most of the world is not American, not white, not male, and doesn’t speak English. He could have thrown in something about most of the world playing soccer, too, but we have the World Cup to remind us of that. Hand me my vuvuzela.




© 2010 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.