Over the first couple of days the 2010 World Cup has stubbornly resisted my determination to stay interested in it. It started off well enough, with a game between South Africa and Mexico that ended in an unsatisfying 1-1 draw, but had in its favor the novelty, pomp, and circumstance of being an opening game featuring the host country. That game was quickly followed, however, by a remarkably tedious contest between France and Uruguay that ended in a scoreless tie. During the slow stretches of this game, of which there were many, there was nothing to occupy your attention except the remorseless droning of the vuvuzelas—horns that sound like the frustrated buzzing of a million bees just angry enough to make a commotion but not angry enough to do anything about it—which are apparently going to be ubiquitous at this year’s tournament. They ought to be stopped but probably won’t be, because they are “part of the culture” and no one wants to be the cause of any further unpleasantness in South Africa.
This morning we got the first match with an actual victor (South Korea) and loser (Greece, looking every bit as dreadful as their economy). Then an Argentina and Nigeria matchup that had only one goal, but looked fast-paced and at least boasted the spectacle of Diego Maradona stalking the sidelines like a friendly bear in a suit.
The main event of the day, at least in these parts, was England vs. the U.S., which I watched in a German restaurant in Alameda with Vortices Cecil and Power. And there was some drama, including a goal by England that happened so fast I almost missed it and an unbelievable case of fumbleitis by English goalie Robert Green. This last may just possibly have been attributable to the Adidas-made “Jabulani” ball being used this year, which was the cause of much controversy in the runup to the World Cup, but in any case it gave the U.S. fans something to cheer about. (I, being a royalist at heart, was rooting for England.) Unfortunately, that was it for the scoring, and so Real Football blew yet another opportunity to make inroads on the hearts and minds of America at large. As the Old Man wrote,
A perfect example of why soccer will never be a major sport in the US. Here in the US we want winners and losers dammit!
On tap for tomorrow: Algeria vs. Slovenia, Serbia vs. Ghana, and Germany vs. Australia. Oh, and a little thing called Game 5 of the NBA Finals, or the Massachusetts Republic vs. the Emirate of Southern California, if you prefer. Great opportunity for a long summer day of total assal horizontology. Go Celtics! Go Ghana! Go Slovenia! Hell, go everybody—except you, Kobe. I have to draw the line somewhere.