Thursday, June 8, 2006

Swindle On Soccer: An Introduction

Blogger.com has been jacked up all week, so instead of Swindle being able to post as Swindle, we'll be using the ol' cut & paste routine. Without further ado, I give you his opening salvo:

Let us state from the top that the soccer authorities would not include us. College football authorities would not include us either, but at least in college football I stand a chance of getting the random trivia question right and a damn good chance of knowing whose team members have been arrested for DUI, assault, and sheep rape. (Sadly, no sheep rape cases have been reported this season, a statement which will infuriate sheep rights advocates but resonate for fans of the Fulmer Cup.)

In terms of soccer-watching, we tend to notice more that follows the line of the completely casual fan without the depth of experience gained from long hours watching long hours of Euro soccer for years on end. In fact, we're almost exclusively devoted to the World Cup, and largely ignore the sport save for marquee matches and Euro Championships. In other words, if reading Kanu talk about soccer is like listening to Eddie Van Halen playing the opening to "Eruption" in concert in 1980, we're like watching Jack Black rip through the opening chords of "Sex Supremo" in 2000: a pale, amateur, and extremely niche marketed imitation of what a proper maestro should be.

Yet...we're sincere in our mania. We love that Moroccan fans celebrate by spitting. We love Brazil's legions of improbably attractive fans. We love English fans roaring out "Vindaloo" while draining the reserves of surrounding breweries. We love the rage, the passion, the mania, and the improbable chemistries that erupt when, every four years, nations cobble together teams on the arbitrary basis of nationality and the space marked off by borders.

Most importantly, we love the game, the sweeping, herk-jerk, suddenly somnolent then instantly heart-stopping periodicity of soccer. No sport matches the nut-crunching drama--none. We said it. No, fuck that: I said it. College football, our adopted sport of study, owns us--we're too invested to believe a victory and a loss together could ever constitute a consequence-less game. There's always an advantage for our team, a downside we'll have to face later, an unseen tweaking in the machinations of the BCS that will bite our team in the ass and take us from the Fiesta Bowl to the Citrus.

In soccer, unfettered by loyalties, it's possible for us to simply open our eyes and let the lust for athletic beauty feed no matter who wins or loses. If Italy wins, the cutthroat economy of their defensive tradition allowed the opponent to hang themselves with their own rope. If Brazil wins, it will be because of the elan and improvisation seemingly leaching into the players from the soil. Each team has something to fall in love with, some flair, eccentricity, or quirk of style to hang your hat on affectionately.

Finally, we love soccer because something in international competition unleashes your inner tribesman. Like the Lord of the Rings cycle or the political theories of your grandfather, there's a gloriously politically incorrect tribal rubric everyone may openly work from when watching the World Cup. Italy dives? They've done that before--remember World War One? Ghana beats Italy but loses to the US? Typically erratic, and quintessentially African of them, losing despite their "athleticism." Germany wins? Watch--we guarantee the word "efficient" will appear in the article. It's one of the few places where it's okay to let your contained but relatively benign national predjudices out--in fact, judging by England's cheers, it's encouraged. (Our favorite cheer when England beats Germany: "THREE--NIL! THREE--NIL!")

In many ways, it's all the thrill of war without the syphilis, sepsis, and casualties.* Yet in the end there's always the faint glow of warm fuzzies from seeing not nationalities, ethnicities, or race triumph at the end of the day, but only the game, this beautiful, simple, and erratic butterfly of a sport remains. If we can help impart an nth of its beauty and chaos, then we've come close to paying it back for the pleasure it's poured into us since a single kick by Patrick Kluivert hooked us for good in Copa '98.

*(We were going to include sodomy, but considering the massive accomodations made for prostitutes in Germany this time, it seems like that could be part of the equation if you so chose. Include the syphilis if you go to a brothel on the cheap, right?)

4 comments:

Kanu said...

It's beautiful, as I knew it would be. Keep this shit coming.

*Note to self: inviting a writer of infinitely superior quality to yourself to write on your own blog might not be the best idea when you cannot dream of matching his quality yourself and will only leave your tens of readers thinking "why am I reading this dipshit when I could be over at EDSBS with everyone else?" Damn you, Georgia Public School Education! UGA outfoxed by UF yet-a-fucking-gain...

Nathan said...

I just pretend Orson picked his skills up at GT, it makes me sleep better at night.

LSUBC said...

Hmm sportswriting in the World Cup as an opportunity to release nation specific prejudice.

I like it, kind of like Joe Pa and the need for more black athletes.

That being said, shouldn't someone write about how racist those Euro pigs are compared to our little old hate-neutered South?

j.j. said...

Never seen a soccer match in my life. I'm going to watch the World Cup (at least one match) because of this post.

BTW, Orson: I???