No Handballs Allowed

As Jesse Gavin would say, "Be Orange!", like the Dutch! Click to read how these girls became big news at the World Cup.

Today, I have a couple of things to say about the World Cup, but I have some thank yous to hand out, if you don’t mind.

I want to thank Suzanne Hull a.k.a. “The Get-It Done Girl” and the force behind “Unemployed in Des Moines” for linking my blog to her site and forwarding it to her readers and fans.  Suzanne is passionate about how the unemployed are adapting and finding ways to be gainfully employed again here in Des Moines.  A second thank you to Joe Burkland of “The Learning Curve”, who posted a link in the comment section under Friday’s “Do not pass go…” blog entry.

Finally, to all of the readers out there, including you Charlie, thank you for your continued readership!

Soccer has never been a sport that I follow much, but over the past three years, I’ve started to follow the European leagues and international friendlies.  I’ve watched more World Cup matches than I have in the last three World Cups combined (1998, ’02, and ’06).  Does that make me a rabid fan?  No.  It makes me a casual fan who appreciates good futbol and my willingness to learn the nuances of the sport.

Despite USA losing to Ghana, USA did an admirable job and did not embarrass themselves in the way they did in ’98 and France did in this tournament.  Leave to the French to wave the white flag and say “we surrender.” What an utterly pathetic performance and conduct.  While we’re at it, let’s stop the incessant questions of “will USA’s performance help soccer here become big?” Nothing will push the three most watched and played sports in America out of the way (American football, baseball, basketball).  That’s reality that we have to accept, whether it’s a popular thought or not.

Soccer is a “niche” sport, like hockey.  Fans who love the sport will follow it from start to end.  Casual fans, not so much.  It has to take something monumental, like the World Cup, to get the casual fan’s interest.  Trust me, there are fans who don’t like football, baseball, or hoops, so it goes both ways.

Former Argentine great and World Cup coach Diego Maradona (right) with his protege star, Lionel Messi (left).

If there is one thing that casual fans are in total agreement of, and that is the “flopping” in matches.  I understand that using injury time is a strategic tool in buying extra time to score, or if a player is really injured.  Casual fans “hate” it and would like for soccer players to stop making a mockery of the sport. It’s bad enough one sport, basketball, has a cache of “floppers” crumbling to the floor on a ticky-tack foul.  Must there be two sports that has these posers? Die hard soccer fans will disagree with the casual fan and argue what I said earlier about taking advantage of stoppage time.

Anyway, I’m going to continue watching the World Cup.  I had planned on watching even if the U.S. didn’t advance further.  I love watching the thug-like, mobster-suit wearing “Hand of God” extraordinaire Diego Maradona and his Argentina squad, the fast and quick-to-the-ball Ghanians, and of course the orange mob of the Netherlands.  My fellow alumni from Wartburg might have figured out what I have an affection for the Dutch, besides the lovely women at the top of this blog. (Be Orange!)

Until then, my friends, flip on the telly, and enjoy hearing this…

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