Day 76 of 98 – I understood the word ‘gave’… unless it means something else in this country.

5 Dec

So I promised you guys a post on soccer and I think this is probably the best time to write it. I’ve got a four-hour train ride ahead of me, I’m totally wired, and my belly has recently been filled with yummy McDonald’s breakfast (the packaging say “Official Restaurant of the Olympics” – I assume that’s Special, not Regular).

I’ve decided to break this one up into four distinct parts. As I was doing the first draft I realized that it’s going to be well over eight thousand words. It’s fine to have a single post of that length if discussing toilets or sidewalks, but soccer is something else completely. Like a fine meal it needs to be cooked, served, chewed, swallowed, digested, and expelled over many hours; the leftovers packed into reusable plastic containers and consumed over many lunch hours in the days following. Here’s how it’s going to go:

  • Part zero is what you are reading “now”. This is the introduction.
  • Part one will focus on the differences in structure between the soccer and other sports.
  • Part two will attempt to demystify for North Americans the allure of soccer.
  • In the third and final part I will rant about everything that is wrong with all sports. I might also talk about what is good. But no promises – I have not written that part yet.

But before we get going, a bit of ground work.

For this blog I have I decided to use “soccer” when referring to European football and for NFL and CFL I will use “American football”. I have no idea what Aussie Rules or League Football is. I think they might be some sort of rugby. Because I’m writing about my views on soccer as a North American, these Australian aberrations are considered unimportant.

I myself, am from North America (Canada). I grew up on hockey (playing and watching), I’ve always enjoyed baseball, and recently I have found myself watching soccer. I find basketball incredibly uninteresting (too many points) and while I understand the rules of American football I never really put the energy into learning the strategy.

I hope this post doesn’t ruffle too many feathers. In some circles, sports is right up there with religion and politics – the supporters can get passionate about their belief / choice of team, sport, favorite player, whatever. And criticism by an outsider can come across badly. My goal with all this is to discover a greater understanding – if I’m in error, by all means, let me know. It’s saves me from having to google stuff.

And finally, in the interests of full disclosure I will let you know now which teams I support.

  • Hockey – when I was a kid Montreal Canadians. Now I cheer for whomever is playing against the Ottawa Senators – think of it like having 29 favourite teams. I also like Edmonton and Calgary. Boston is pretty good too. After the 2010 finals Vancouver ranks just above Ottawa for me.
  • Baseball – Montreal (RIP), Toronto and Philadelphia.
  • Basketball – I don’t think I’ve ever watched a complete game
  • NFL Football – No team
  • CFL Football – Ottawa, when they have a team
  • Soccer – I used to be torn between the Dutch and the Germans but after their horrible display in the 2010 WC final, I don’t think I can support the Netherlands anymore. This might change after the Euro 2012 if they can go the whole tournament and still behave like adults, but right now I’m going to have to say Deutschland is my team. I of course cheer for Canada, but unless we end up hosting it’s unlikely we will be playing in anything but qualifying matches – for my lifetime anyway. And I like the United States because it’s fun to watch the most powerful nation in the world as an underdog.


Berlin, WC 2010 semi-final Germany vs. Spain - at this point I was still undecided between supporting Germany or Holland.

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