World Cup Observations

2 Jul
This man, Tim Howard, was incredible. Stellar goalie.

This man, Tim Howard, was incredible. Stellar goalie.

Like many Americans, I am a new (and disgruntled) soccer fan. The game is full of near misses and frustrating endings. The team that’s been playing crazy defense all game can get tripped up in the last 30 seconds and lose it all. It’s a frustrating thing to watch. But I love sports, so I’m learning to love soccer.

The World Cup has been so exciting this year. Despite yesterday’s loss, it’s been easy to root for the U.S. Men’s team. Having only really paid attention to soccer for the first time ever two and a half weeks ago, I can’t claim to be an expert. But there are a few things I’ve noticed so far.

1. Thighs. Soccer players have some of the most beautiful thighs I’ve ever seen on men. They are ridiculously toned. I’ve been an avid runner for about five years now and am nowhere near that kind of definition. Those beautiful quads and hams have to be well taken care of in order to kick the ball with such precision.

2. Abs. Core strength is key to almost any physical activity. These fellas have great cores. It keeps them agile and allows for some awesome scissor kicks.

3. Faces. It’s not called a beautiful game for nothing. Soccer is the CW network of sports. Marginally attractive people aren’t employed there. The only sport that comes somewhat close in the ratio of fine athletes to their less-attractive brethren is tennis, and that sport doesn’t has nearly as many players. Sure, most soccer players average about 5’7″.* But with faces like these, you have to give them a pass.

4. Speed. I heard somewhere that for the 90 minutes that soccer players are on the field, they’re averaging about seven miles of running. Seven miles! For comparison, I run six miles an hour, and I’m not chasing a ball, trying to control it with my feet, dodging 10 other people and trying to kick it into a goal.

Good job, fellas.

Good job, fellas.

5. Sportsmanship. In high-stakes competitions like the NBA Finals or the Super Bowl, you’re bound to have a few scuffles. I have yet to see any real blowups on the pitch. These guys are running around in Brazilian heat (which is no joke) for 45 minutes straight each half with other people kicking at them, tripping them, pulling at their uniforms…and no one has thrown dem bows. My favorite part is the end when the teams exchange jerseys—partly because of observation No. 2, but also because the players appreciate the other team’s hard work. It’s a really special moment.

6. Dedication. I ran a race on Saturday (five miles in 50:35, thank you very much) and the sun was beating me up. I was frustrated with the organizers for having only two misting stations and myself for not stopping for water more often. I finished, but I was not pleased at the amenities. Soccer players play through each half with no timeouts, no water breaks, no ref challenges. Nothing.** You’re just out there until your half is up. And they do it with no complaint. It’s inspiring.

Even though my team is out, I’m going to continue to watch the Cup through the end. I’ve gained a new appreciation for the sport. Will I try it? Probably not because I’m an old. But I can definitely see its universal appeal.

Now that the U.S. is out, will you continue to watch? What’s been your favorite moment so far? Mine was anytime Tim Howard let out his inner beast.

*I’m 5’2″, so I have no real right to complain about height. But a girl’s got preferences (not necessarily prerequisites).

**Players do find a way to take a breather by doing I what I call the “Paul Pierce.” Old Navy doesn’t have as many flip flops as I’ve seen during these matches. It’s hilarious, but at the same time a bit of a “Come on!” moment.

Photos courtesy of FIFA/Getty Images

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2 Responses to “World Cup Observations”

  1. desmondlatham July 2, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    Excellent! Great analysis from someone who just plugged into the madness that’s world football. Sorry, soccer. A fresh view is always welcome.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. On the Women’s World Cup | I'm Skinny, Now What? - June 30, 2015

    […] Last year around this time, I observed the fascinating male form that runs around a soccer pitch and kicks at other people. Last year was the men’s World Cup (congrats, Germany!). This year, the women get to impress. […]

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