Friday, June 8, 2018

So you want to learn about the World Cup

In the run up to this year's World Cup a reporter went out in public to ask Americans who they were rooting for. The answers, with much tongue-clucking implied in the reporting, included "teams" like Europe, Barcelona, Man United, and Africa. Before I get carried away with how I totally understand how this accurately reflects the level of soccer understanding in my country, I feel honor bound to note that there is no question you could ask a random group of Americans and not receive a significant number of ignorant, astoundingly misguided answers. "Who would you like to be President?" is a very famous recent one that was asked in a binding way and should encourage any of us "tsk-ing" about, say, Americans not being able to identify Canada on a map to put that in perspective.

Furthermore I suspect the reporter might have run into someone like me, who would've gone on about Senegal's longshot chances and the flaws in Argentina's midfield for so long that their little project almost had to be discontinued. But that's never the part that gets reported. It just confuses the story.

Nevertheless, fine, yes, Americans in general are not particularly interested in, or informed about, the upcoming World Cup. I should know, I am running a World Cup Pool at my job. For five dollars each person gets, through a random draw, one of the 32 teams. As keen as I was to make the whole thing wildly complex, I was thankfully brought to my senses. While my co-workers were mostly quite happy to take part, the most common things I heard were:

"I hate soccer".

"I don't have to know anything, do I?"

"Just so long as I don't have to watch any games."


"I've been wanting to learn more about soccer."

My heart skips a beat when I hear that last one. "Really?" I ask. Then I start to explain all kinds of things about soccer and the World Cup. But invariably they lose interest after about 30 seconds. I can see it in their eyes. Actually I think they lose interest after only 15 seconds, but I can only see it in their eyes after 30. Then it takes me another three minutes to stop talking.

I'm pretty sure that when they say: 

"I've been wanting to learn more about soccer."

They mean it more like:

"I've been wanting to eat more vegetables."


"Tell me all about your trip to Rome."

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