Meditations: Upon paying attention to soccer for the first time

By Ann Ivins

Note to the sport-specific prescriptivists out there: not only am I an American, I live in Texas, where calling any game that does not include 300-pound men in Spandex slapping each other on the ass “football” is a Class B misdemeanor. Seriously. Look it up. I will therefore be referring to the sport played by the rest of the world as “soccer,” because your pantywad is not my jail time, pal.

  • World Cup soccer appears to be played by extremely fit and flexible men with incredible stamina (more on this later). They rarely stop running, and when they do, it’s only long enough to kick a ball while spinning sideways through the air or to collide artistically with one or more other players four feet off the ground. As an easily-bored non-sports fan, I appreciate the pace, the spectacle and the fact that the ball is big enough for me to see without my glasses. However, the lack of constant timeouts, fouls, artillery reloading or nap breaks makes sticking to a consistent snack-drink-bathroom plan very challenging. Work on this, FIFA. You could still win me…


  • Never mention the word “offside” if you really don’t give a damn; the explanation is invariably a verbal death spiral into a sinkhole of apathetic confusion.
  • I’m not certain of the precise rule, but in Brazil, you may not play professional soccer indefinitely without adopting a one-word moniker. Also, “kaka” must mean something entirely different in Portuguese, because…


  • While the rest of the world is preparing to stone assorted referees, the French national team is engaged in a rapidly escalating civil war. One pottymouth player has quit the team and possibly soccer forever, so there. Although the English-speaking press has been charmingly coy about translating his halftime pejoratives, I can read enough French to get the gist, so here it is: “Go fuck yourself, you son of a whore,” which turns out to be modern Gallic parlance for “I surrender.” Meanwhile, Capitan Evra is determined to hunt down and execute the rat who leaked Poopelka’s rant to the media and the manager on the receiving end will soon be searching for asylum somewhere in Morocco…



  • Which brings me, albeit slightly out of breath, back to my original point. After painstaking research, I can confidently state that soccer players in the aggregate are 67.8% hotter than any other population of professional athletes. Going simply by physique, that number rises to a staggering 234.5% – yes, I did the math. Yes, during a match. Brazil and… and… someone else. I don’t know. Shut up – hey! GOAL! SHIRT IS COMING OFF, BABY! YES! YES!

I think I may love this game.

Categories: Sports

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14 replies »

  1. “Also, “kaka” must mean something entirely different in Portuguese, because…”

    Caca means exactly what you think it means. Kaka’ (with an accent over the second a) is a diminutive of Ricardo (just as Duda is a diminutive of Eduarda and Dudo of Eduardo). The pronunciation makes all the difference.

  2. I detect a real gender thing going on here. Well, I suppose I could go on with all sorts of high-falutin sociological sterotyping blather, or I could just direct people’s attention to the fact that the Women’s World Cup will be held next year in Germany. Go find your own pictures.

    And South Africa beating Fracne 1-0 at the moment.

    Brilliant, by the way.

  3. At last, the solution to making all gender issues disappear! Huzzah!

    Actually, I think Ann’s aesthetic appreciation of the male physique is probably more in the gay male range than down here in the average hetero female range where some of us live. I mean, those are some very pretty dudes pictured above, but that’s just not sufficient to make me voluntarily watch sports. (Not saying average hetero females don’t like sports, just that the ones who do tend to have more interest in the actual sports part than Ann seems to, and for those of us who don’t, all the beefcake in the world isn’t going to keep that channel on for long if there’s even remotely more interesting to do.) I am, however, totally with you on the pace, spectacle, ball visibility, and bonus beefcake making soccer marginally less mind-numbing than other televised sports.

  4. I find this lack of aesthetic appreciation of the human form disheartening… I blame dwindling funding for the arts in schools.

  5. My only complaint on World Cup coverage is how freaking far away they keep the cameras. Where did put the cameramen, on the moon? Either get in there or get a freaking zoom lens. I don’t need the perspective of the guy with the nosebleed seats. Oh, and there needs to be a time limit on how long you can show the same replay. If it’s been more then 10 minutes since the event, you can’t play it again. In the American/Britain if each replay was an actual goal, the final score would have been 10-10.

    Maybe they need a special version of the replay for female fans. For the guys, here is the replay of the goal. For the girls, here is a replay of the hot guys suiting up before the game. For the children, quick mom is distracted, raid the cookies!!!

  6. Ann, I’m not entirely sure what I just read, but I am absolutely certain about what I just saw. 🙂 Thank you.

  7. See? Balance is all.

    Shelley – don’t thank me, at least not for the first one. Thank Dolce & Gabbana. Thank them. Encourage them.