Friday, June 02, 2006

Spreading World Cup Fever Stateside: A How-To Guide

I've finally come to accept it, but I'll be damned if I understand it. Just like the popularity of the flat brim hat or why people think Nicole Kidman is hot, I have come to accept the fact that the majority of Americans care as much about the World Cup as the WNBA; but I confess that I never, ever, ever, will be able to understand it. Soccer, and in particular the World Cup, is far and above the most popular sport on the planet for a reason. Truly insane fans, outrageous individual personalities, and edge-of-your-seat drama that is on par with any walk-off homerun or game-winning field goal are only a few. To say nothing of the fact that, to the best of my knowledge, soccer is the only sport that ever directly led to a full-blown war.
However, in the eighteen years since I first took the pitch as a precocious five-year old, the many hours I have spent trying to convince my fellow Americans that professional soccer is a thrilling enterprise worthy of their attention, have mostly been in vain. I've heard all the standard excuses, like "They just stand around the whole game" (Hello? Baseball?), "What's it matter? Our team sucks anyway" (Newsflash. Not anymore.) and "They act like they've been shot anytime someone touches them" (Umm...yeah...that's annoying) and despite my best efforts, my guess would be that in my eighteen years of advocacy and lobbying, I've turned on exactly zero people to the world of professional soccer.
But no more. Driven by the thesis I proposed months ago on this very blog, namely that virtually all types of athletic activity, including free-throw contests and even the modern pentathlon, that can be transformed from unwatchable to captivating by having cold hard cash riding on the outcome, I've come to a foolproof solution to spread my favorite infectious disease, other than gonnorhea (kidding), World Cup Fever, to fans "from the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam." Ladies and gentlemen, my proposal is simple. Create a World Cup fantasy league. Such leagues are already popular in Europe, and in the grand tradition of The Beatles, pizza, and Heidi Klum, it's time to bring the best of Europe to the States. So gather up seven of your friends with borderline gambling addictions, pick up two cases of Beck's, as a tribute to this year's host, and hold your first ever World Cup Fantasy Draft, according to the following rules:
  • The draft is four rounds long, and conducted in a "snake" format. (e.g. The owner who picks first in the first round picks last in the second round.)
  • Each nation can only be drafted by one owner. (e.g. Once Brazil is picked first, and it will be by anyone with an IQ greater than their shoe size, they cannot be picked again.)
  • Scoring is as follows:
  • Preliminary Round Win - 3 pts
  • Preliminary Round Tie - 1 pt
  • Advancing past Preliminary Round - 2 pts
  • Win in Round of 16 (Advancing to Quarterfinals) - 4 pts
  • Win in Round of 8 (Advancing to Semifinals) - 6 pts
  • Win in Round of 4 (Advancing to Finals) - 8 pts
  • Winning Third Place Match - 6 pts
  • Losing Finals (Finishing in Second Place) - 8 pts
  • Winning World Cup - 10 pts
  • The owner whose four teams garner the greatest combined points is the winner. Ties can be decided by highest finish of any nation on an owner's team. (e.g. An owner who has the nation that finished in second place on his team wins over an owner who has no teams that advanced past the quarterfinals.)

What could be greater than cheering wildly as the bottom line on ESPN2 informs you that Ukraine (your seventh round sleeper), in fact, did manage to hold off Saudi Arabia to secure their passage through to the second round. Or being unable to tear your eyes from the TV as the Czech Republic faces off against Argentina in the finals on July 9 in Berlin, not because of your affinity for the women of Prague or your love of a fine Argentine steak (apparently it's delicious), but because if those former Commies can hold off those pony-tailed pretty boys, you'll pocket $180 bucks and be able to say you are the master prognosticator in the world of professional soccer amongst your friends for the next, not one, not two, not three, but four years. That is, of course, unless my idea for an MLS Fantasy League begins to gain momentum. But hey, one step at a time for now.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can think of nothing more boring than watching a bunch of ethnocentric Europeans aimlessly parade around a gigantic field while trying to kick a small ball into a huge net.

Making it into a fantasy game won't increase interest in the sport. Fantasy games are meant to augment CURRENT interest not to create interest for a sport in which it does not exist. Maybe in 30 years a professional soccer league will be popular in America, but then again maybe in 30 years Philly will have a championship in a sport. After all stranger things have happened.

2:23 PM  
Anonymous yoke said...

I guess there are not enough car chases and explosions in soccer for you. I understand where you are coming from. You are not able to comprehend the game so you dismiss it. Oh how gloriously comforting. This makes your life easier to live.

6:13 PM  
Anonymous yoke said...

my previous comments were directed at anonymous

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nicole kidman is very attractive those are just bad pictures. She is elegant. Remember she is not a model, she is an actress and she is approaching 40.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kicking a ball in a net... how complicated. I'd prefer to watch football where players must memorize thousands of plays and coaches dissect every intricate facet of the game... as oppose to soccer where there are like 6 different plays.

According to your logic, any person who doesn't like a sport does so because they are unable to understand the sport. That how do you explain people do not like either tennis or swimming? If a person doesn't like those then it is because he can't comprehend how to do the backstroke? Your logic is flawed buddy... read a book.

I like baseball and that doesn't have explosions in it. In fact it is a game where strategy plays an integral part of the sport. So saying there are not enough "explosions" really has no bearing on my personal tastes.

Furthermore, not a day goes by when I don't think to myself: "Wow. I am sure glad I don't understand soccer and because of that I hate it and can now live a peaceful existence." That is arguably the stupidest thing I've heard in regards to sports. I can see that type of logic working in fields of race or new, novel concepts, but in regards to a sport. Way to take a rule and misapply buddy. You my friend are... an idiot.

12:44 PM  
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1:23 PM  
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5:29 PM  

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