“If God had wanted man to play soccer, he wouldn’t have given us arms.” – Mike Ditka

It seems as if everybody in the world is crazy for soccer except us. In the 2006 World Cup final, France vs. Italy drew a reported 715.1 million viewers, almost three times the Super Bowl audience of the same year at 260 Million. You might not approve of “football” in short pants, but you’re probably going to have to live with it around the water cooler for a while, especially if the U.S. team continues to avoid elimination.

I’d like to offer my expertise in explaining some of the more confusing aspects of the game of soccer – or futbol as we cosmopolitan types like to say. Herewith, a Q&A:[/caption]

What’s this “pitch” they keep talking about? Yeah, that’s quite a head scratcher in a game where hardly anybody ever holds the ball in his hands. In this case it comes from another strange British game, Cricket, in which stakes were driven into the ground to define the “wicket.” This was thought to be analogous to what you do with stakes when you “pitch” a tent, and so the cricket field became the pitch. Then they extended it to the stakes used to define a soccer field and that became a pitch too. Oddly, there is some actual “pitching” in cricket, but the guy who does it is known as a “bowler.” The French call it le terrain which actually makes some sense. English people are weird.

Some of the games are described as nil – nil. Does “nil” mean boring?  Yes.

The announcers keep saying things like “Germany are mounting a comeback.” If you’re going to talk in a snooty British accent, shouldn’t you at least know singular from plural?  We noticed that too. It must be some new grammatical wrinkle that hasn’t quite made it across the pond yet. The Idler tried it out halfway through a Bucs – Cubs game by announcing to the missus, “I are going to get more beer.” She hid my keys. Speaking of which . . .

Soccer fans must have extremely large bladders. Not only that, but you better keep a cooler in the living room. Seems like there are hardly any breaks in the game at all. Of course you always want to maintain a backup beer supply within arm’s reach of your recliner. That’s just common sense. As for how the Idler spells World Cup relief, my advice is to watch for the guys who take the academy award winning dives. When one of them has the ball, you’re almost guaranteed to have an “injury” timeout due to someone on the other team waving at him as he goes by. The French national team, for instance, is renowned for its proficiency at “le flopPING”  The US team is in the process of calling in advisers from the NBA in a last ditch effort to narrow this flopping gap. Anyway, when one of them hits the turf grimacing and clutching at his knee, head for the WC.

Why does that one guy keep running out and showing red and yellow cards to the players? He’s an escaped mental patient.

Well, there you have it. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to parry and thrust with all the Eurotrash wannabes in your circle. No need to thank the Idler.

Comments – DickVerbo@hotmail.com

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