There weren’t any games today as the top 16 sides took a break before launching back into action, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to have my say about a rather curious phenomenon that sits at the fringes of this (and any other) World Cup – the backlash.
Here in New Zealand as well as in the United States, there’s a group of people who don’t particularly like football, for whatever reason. That’s their choice and that’s fine. But they go further than simply disliking the sport, they actively engage in attempting to trash it and Social Media gives them their amplifier.
To a small section of our society, and it really is only a small section – the vocal minority – now, football is soft and played by actors. It may well be, but so what? Why do those people care? Just don’t watch. And yet they do and can only come up with the sort of intended insults that a) have all been heard before and b) are of the type made by ten year old kids in the play ground. I haven’t heard anything original in the last 20 years and it’s well boring.
When confronted, they’ll tell you it’s banter. Don’t get so worked up about it. But banter is funny, and clever, and original. And no-one’s really getting worked up about it either.
Having a ‘code war’ debate is kinda like discussing politics or religion. There’s a large amount of people that get along and don’t take any of it too seriously and then there are the people on the fringes, the extreme left- and right-wingers, if you like, or the hard core Christians and Atheists. Their point of view is right and they will tell you it’s right. In fact they’ll shout at you that it’s right which, as we all know, is a guaranteed way to have most normal people think they’re wrong. You can see that happening already in the lead-up to September’s election, but that’s another story…
Has anyone ever ‘won’ a debate like this? Certain rugby heads will tell you they hate football (they’ll call it soccer) because the players dive all the time and they aren’t hard enough. It’s an opinion, but not a new or original one. You’ll find it isn’t shared by the top level rugby players. They appreciate the challenges involved in football, and the skill and the athleticism, just as top level footballers appreciate everything that goes into performing on rugby’s biggest stage (well, those that have heard of rugby, at any rate). It’s the people that haven’t done it and will never do it who are the loudest disparagers.
Anyway, no-one likes the diving, but if you’ve watched a lot of the current World Cup you’ll have seen there has hardly been any of it. This is mainly because of the way the officials have dealt with it – by and large, it’s been ignored. Yeah, there’s been a bit of writhing, but it’s only a minor affliction and well overshadowed by the actual sport that’s taking place.
Oh, and the hardness argument is an irrelevancy, really, as we’re comparing apples with watermelons. They are two completely different sports with two completely different skill sets that top level players have taken over a decade to develop. Football at any competitive level is extremely hard, just as rugby is, and they are hard in different ways. Rugby is more brutal, just as league is more brutal than rugby and American Football is more brutal than both of them, but I’ve never understood the fascination with that. Who really admires a sport because of the injuries its players suffer?
I’d also ask why anyone would think that playing a sport where you earn far less money yet have a far higher likelihood of getting a career ending or life altering injury is a better idea than doing the opposite? I’ve never had that answered and, in NZ at least, I probably won’t.
Not that it really matters. I know that explaining is losing and I’ve done a little bit of explaining above. Just my two cents.
That’s New Zealand. In the States the same debate has been taken to a whole new level. Our’s is kindergarten stuff in comparison. The World Cup has rated through the roof in the USA as their team is doing well and it’s given American fans the opportunity to whip themselves into a nationalistic fervour, and no-one does sporting nationalism like the Americans.
But some of their own don’t particularly like it.
According to one columnist, the rather shrill Ann Coulter, the growing interest in soccer in the USA can only be a sign of the growing level of moral decay in the country, among other things. Have a read here. I honestly have no way to rationally respond to it. Maybe it’s a piss take. Whatever it is she’s clearly aiming for a big reaction, which gets massive amounts of traffic and high engagement, and leads to having her name in the national spotlight. She certainly achieved that. But choosing to achieve that by talking about football kind of disproves a number of her points, doesn’t it?
Then there’s this dude in Boston who was a little bit lazy. He chose to ignore the World Cup by writing a column about the World Cup, thus not actually ignoring the World Cup. His complaints about not liking soccer are bog standard. Nothing new to see there. In fact, someone did a bit of digging and found out that he’d basically been recycling the same old stuff, over and over, for years. So the column itself was not even new. And, to top it off, he’s something of a flip-floper, as explained here.
His work is that of a worthless journo who should be retired or locked away. Maybe an exchange could be arranged with him to get the proper journalists who are currently locked up in Egypt released.
Anyway, it’s all very interesting to observe. Humans aye?
At least we can all now get back to the football.
Picks for Day 17
Brazil 2-1 Chile, Colombia 3-0 Uruguay. I half expect the Brazil game to go to penalties, though, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Uruguay actually win 1-0 or, more likely, have a bunch of players sent off.