Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Horrid Little Article Called "The horrid little game called soccer"

David Warren is an entertaining Ottawa Citizen columnist. Sadly, this entertainment doesn't come from well-constructed columns, but from an incredible ability to be consistently wrong while maintaining a flare for absurd arguments. Warren recently decided to grace the world with his opinion on the game of soccer, entitling a recent column "The horrid little game called soccer." Now, the article was somewhat tongue in cheek (I hope), but it nevertheless contains Mr. Warren’s actual opinion of the great game.

The column opens with Warren readily admitting that he knows nothing about soccer. Does this slow him down in the least? Absolutely not. He opines that journalists should not be slowed down by ignorance. He fails to mention, however, that a journalist of any quality who was admittedly ignorant on a topic would engage in some research, perhaps talk to some experts. Does Warren do any such thing? Absolutely not. Instead, he readily admits hating soccer despite his admitted ignorance. Here is a list of his reasons:

1) At the age of seven poor little Mr. Warren was tackled in a game of soccer. He was humiliated because people were watching and goes on to say, misplaced comma and all: "Like any red-blooded Canadian, I cannot remember having played, since, except under compulsion."

2) In what sounds as if it had been a high school gym class, Mr. Warren scored three points. He found scoring to be a simple task of aiming at a "ridiculously large" net.

3) Subsequent to scoring his third goal Mr. Warren was mobbed by his teammates. Once again, he was injured and claims to have limped for weeks afterwards.

4) Soccer is not a sport for free men (?) and growing enthusiasm for it in the United States is "symptomatic of Eurosclerotic socialism." He further argues that "soon Canada may find herself alone in defending the values of western civilization."

5) Poor Mr. Warren was subject to soccer on the television whenever he tried to get a beer at a bar in Canadian cities.

6) Mr. Warren is dismayed at the traffic delays that were caused by celebrating fans.

7) Mr. Warren was further dismayed by "the triumphalist displays of 'multicultural' chauvinism" in said traffic delays.

8) Mr. Warren has a Swedish acquaintance who was of the opinion that ice hockey is superior to soccer because a scoreless draw in ice hockey is more exciting than a scoreless draw in soccer. A scoreless draw in soccer is boring and "quite possibly fixed."

9) A German octopus correctly predicted the results of eight World Cup matches, so why should anyone watch?

10) The final match was ugly and would have ended in shoot-outs if the referee had not given a red card and ensured Spanish victory. We should just watch the referees, argues Warren.

I’ll deal with each of Mr. Warren’s contentions one by one.

1) Perhaps more detail is needed as to why, at the age of seven, it would be so humiliating to get tackled. Is Mr. Warren so sensitive that having the ball taken from him was so completely embarrassing that he would not willingly attempt the sport again? More importantly, however, is the strange contention that any red-blooded Canadian would cease playing soccer after being tackled. Perhaps Mr. Warren was arguing that red-blooded Canadians don’t play soccer? If so, he should know this is false, we happen to have many people who play soccer (even after being tackled) and we have our own national team. And yes, they all have blood that happens to be red.

2) The argument here seems to be that soccer is very easy to score in. So easy, in fact, that a less than athletic looking windbag can score without trouble. With all due respect to Mr. Warren’s hat trick from his high school days, scoring against a team with a respectable defence and goalkeeper is quite difficult. Hence, soccer often has low-scoring matches.

3) This isn’t really an argument against soccer, I guess. It’s more of an argument against over-enthusiastic celebrations and the delicate men who can’t handle them.

4) If soccer is not a sport of free men, what is it a sport of? Is it the sport of the oppressed men? Are free women allowed to play soccer? Can oppressed people play the sports of free men? What about oppressed women? What are the sports of free men? What’s happening here? What possible linkage is there between socialism and soccer, never mind the “Euroclerotic” variety of socialism? Like it or not, Mr. Warren, soccer is the most popular sport in the world, not just Europe. Canada is part of this world and soccer is just as popular here as in the United States, if not more. Forget defending the values of Western civilization, which, incidentally, soccer is a byproduct of, and start thinking about a global world where everyone can appreciate a beautiful game.

5) True, that’s a very legitimate complaint. It’s so uncomfortable when I’m trying to enjoy a beer and a sport I don’t understand is playing on the television.

6) I think it’s more dismaying in Ottawa when everyone is trying to get to and from the Scotia Bank place way out in Kanata. Any traffic delays caused by flag-waving fanatics speeding up and down the road pale in comparison to that.

7) So members of Canada’s cultural mosaic celebrating the victory of the nation of their cultural background is the equivalent of ‘multicultural’ chauvinism. Does this mean that when, say, Leafs fans celebrate a win this an example of ‘municipal’ chauvinism? Are Leafs fans somehow disrespecting the fans of other Canadian teams by their fervent celebrations? I’m sorry that the fact that many Canadians have origins in other lands offends Mr. Warren so greatly, I think this diversity is one of the things that makes this country great.

8) Shoot, I don’t have any Swedish acquaintances to counter Mr. Warren’s. I think, if I had one, he or she would say that soccer and ice hockey are completely different sports and should be appreciated for their own qualities. He would also say that a scoreless draw is not necessarily boring and, at World Cup level, definitely not fixed. The joy of watching soccer is not just the scoring, it’s the passing, the movement, the back and forth, the close goals, and the amazing skill these players have with a simple ball.

9) As far as sports go, octopuses should only be brutally thrown onto rinks by Red Wings fans. I nominate Paul for this duty.

10) The match was ugly. The Dutch certainly were asking for a red card, not that particular red card, but a red card nonetheless. The card didn’t guarantee Spanish victory as teams sometimes come back with a goal after losing a player. The refereeing of the final left something to be desired, and the game would have been (a little) better if the referee had been better. Although that particular game was far from the best example of the beauty of soccer, soccer remains a beautiful sport.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Things I Don’t Understand . . .

- People crying when celebrities die.

- Those weird sandals that are half boot and half sandal.

- The dream I had last night where I had a huge goiter on my face.

- Why people bother yelling from their balconies for drunk people to shut up. These drunks think they’re talking at a conversational level until you tell them to shut up. Basically you’re actively encouraging a louder volume of the yelling that they didn’t realize they were even doing.

- Fergie fans. The fact that they exist.

- Vampires that twinkle and the girls who love them.

- Vuvuzela enthusiasts.

- Crotchety bloggers that complain about everything, even when their team makes it into the final.

- Advanced physics.

- How expensive pop corn is at the movies.

- Paying to advertise a clothing company on your chest.

- How in some places pop is called coke so that if you say that you want coke they ask you what kind of coke. Sprite is coke, make sense?

- Why cookie monster had to stop eating cookies. How can he even be called cookie monster anymore?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Facing It
Yusuf Komunyakaa

My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn't,
dammit: No tears.
I'm stone. I'm flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way—the stone lets me go.
I turn that way—I'm inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap's white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman's blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird's
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet's image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I'm a window.
He's lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman’s trying to erase names:
No, she's brushing a boy's hair.
World Cup Final Reflections

I was disappointed in the way the Netherlands played the final yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, there were flashes of brilliance by the talented Oranje. Nevertheless the free-flowing Total Football was showcased not by the Dutch, but by the Kruyff-influenced Spanish side. The Dutch seemed intent on fouling their way to a World Cup victory, with the Spaniards content to take advantage of this aggressive intensity to rival Robben and the great Ronaldo for theatrical diving.

I think the Netherlands had the capacity to play a smoother more beautiful game of soccer, but they cared more about winning by any means necessary than by wowing the world with their undeniable talent. This game will never be sold to new fans if the final is just a contest between mixed martial arts and community theatre. For me, the Dutch side that was eliminated in shoot-outs against Brazil in ’98 played a better brand of football. The Dutch side that shocked the world with their one-sided victories against France and Italy during last Eurocup is what I wanted to see this year. In South Africa, I never saw a full game of the beautiful free-flowing soccer that I have come to love and expect from this team. A team with such a rich legacy should have showed the world that they were made of better stuff than this.

Don’t get me wrong, this team was talented, they played with heart, and they had more than enough inspiring plays. This was a united team who had a remarkable run of fourteen victories, and who made it to the final despite all of the nay-sayers. With all respect to Van Marwijk’s grand accomplishment, I say that they should bring in Kruyff or Hiddink.

Yes, Hiddink, I forgive you for coaching Russia to victory over the Dutch in ’08.

But how can I argue with Van Marwijk’s success? Success, for me, would be a return to the beautiful game with continuing contention for years to come. Maybe it's just me though.

Hup, Holland, hup!

Monday, July 05, 2010

How to Prove Your Maturity with Lindsay Lohan

"I'm not that girl from Freaky Friday any more! I'm a real adult. In fact, I hate children! I hate them all!"

This has been another episode of how to prove your maturity with Lindsay Lohan.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Earthquake

Here at Boerishbwoy, we place a high importance on keeping you informed on the latest trends and news items. In the words of your local news channel we "break the news as it happens" and "give you the latest news from around the world." For this reason, we would like to report on the recent earthquake that rocked Canada's capital.

Yes, we know what you're thinking: 'Uuuh, didn't that happen on June 23rd? Isn't it July 4th today?" True, but what does Independence Day have to do with our "up to the minute news reporting"?

Moving on.

Where was John when the earthquake that shook Ottawa occurred? He was at work at his desk. Suddenly there was a rumbling sound that seemed to emanate from the ceiling. John looked upwards, wondering if a group of people had perhaps started to stamp in unison on the floor above him. Then every loose item in the room started to rattle, the floor itself began to move, colleagues screamed. John wasn't actually sure if the loose items hadn't been rattling before the ceiling shook or the floor began moving, he just noticed everything in a very particular order. John pondered the possibility of ducking underneath his desk. He had vague memories of grainy videos of students huddling under their desks due to the threat of nuclear attacks - or was it tornadoes? He couldn't remember. He decided against cowering under his desk, but by the time he had made this momentous decision everything had stopped shaking. Workmates streamed toward the doors. John was instructed to do the same, but he was also quite sure that he should finish his e-mail. He sat for a few moments considering the importance of the e-mail versus the advice of his workmates. He decided that he would go out into the sun with his fellow workers.

People were running, some seemed far more unnerved than others. The range of emotions among those assembled outside were from jovial to distraught to non-chalant. John, because of his extreme talents, managed to display all three simultaneously. He waited outside for a few minutes before returning to work. He was allowed to leave early, though, which was cool.

Don't worry, he was also able to finish that e-mail he had been working on before that sudden seismic interruption.

The earthquake, apparently, was a 5.0 on the Richter scale and the epicentre was about thirty kilometres north of Ottawa. No one was hurt, although a few buildings crumbled a bit and a bridge collapsed.

Who deh?