Miniblog: World Cup

Due to extreme technical difficulties, I’m unable to post a full blog today.  I know the world was waiting with baited breath, and I apologize, but it may be touch and go while I work on getting my computer at home back online.

In the mean time: World Cup.  Chris asked me what World Cup was like up in Canada, and the 2010 is different than any previous World Cup.  Soccer just didn’t happen in Canada before.  It probably doesn’t help that the highest Team Canada has ever ranked is 40th and that was in 1996.  People here just didn’t follow Soccer, not enough for it to be on TV or anything.  They had to read it in the back of the sports section, and it’s hard to get behind that.

But since the 2006 there’s been changes in the way people do information.  With YouTube and the Internet, Canadians can follow foreign teams, fandom usually based on whatever boat their parents came over on, and follow the sport.  With digital and satellite channels offering packages with over 20 sports channels, those channels need something to fill the time when there’s no more hockey and curling, and so they go to soccer.  It’s actually possible to follow FIFA in Canada now.

So this year, bars are opening at 8 am to play games.  People are getting up early to see what’s happening in soccer, and drinking as soon as these games starts.  They’re cheering on teams based on whatever connection they can find, and desperately seeking paraphilia.  Having an official anything makes you a big deal. People cheer when a goal is scored, but apart from the hour, it’s really not looking much different than a busy night at the pub, but people disperse at the games end. Also, 8am drinking.   It’s almost enough to get me to actively follow the sport.

Because you’re not a drunk, you’re just a soccer fan.

Published in: on July 5, 2010 at 1:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dear Hockey, Fuck You. Love, Lacrosse.

Much to my Dad’s disappointment, I wasn’t very good at hockey growing up.  My birthday’s late in the year.  When you’re talking about the difference between a five year old and a six year old, the effective age difference between me and a kid born in January, there are huge gaps in coordination, power, balance, speed, and a bunch of other excuses I use to justify being Canadian and bad at hockey.  In small town Alberta, sucking at, and therefore disliking hockey can make you something of a pariah.

 There it is!

Then I found soccer, and I loved it.  All the real athletes were busy playing hockey, so I wasn’t out-classed.  I was a member of the team, and I played and contributed.  Even at eight, the similarities between the games struck me.  All the basics, from the line ups to the fields of play, they’re just variations on the same basic theme.  But I played soccer, so it was better and more hardcore, and in all ways superior.  I developed this theory that the European alternative versions of sports outclassed their more popular Canadian counterparts.  In my mind at the time, I assumed rugby must be better than foot ball, cricket must be better than baseball, snogging must be better than making out, and so on.

 Then rugby let me down.  Hard.  I got to play in a touch rugby tournament in Japan.  I learned rugby is football, except without the strategy, variety, entertainment value, or any inclination on my part to be involved.  When you take out tackling, rugby has nothing.  Seriously, after the first game, K1 and I spent the whole weekend sneaking around, avoiding rugby.  We were too busy to play our matches because we were helping with something, or driving into town to pick something up, or eating ice cream, or we were too drunk to run.  Sure, the parties that weekend were great, but rugby can go fuck itself.

 Thus disillusioned, I never chased the other alt-sports.  That is until I got tickets to the Roughnecks lacrosse game the weekend before Easter.  If you’ve ever been to the Saddledome, you should know the beer is really good.  I’ll take a free ticket to almost anything to get at that frothy draft.

 Calgary Roughnecks

I didn’t know much about lacrosse.  While as a kid, I felt soccer was alt-hockey, I knew lacrosse was closer.  You’re not on ice, but you wear gear similar to hockey players.  Instead of a hockey stick, you have a small net on the end of a pole.  I thought it lived in the world of polo and shuffle board, rich easterner sports that had no place except in getting me closer to Saddledome draft.  It has that effeminate French name, and no one out here seems interested in it, so I thought it was a gentler game for trust fund kids.

 I have never been so happy to be wrong in my life.  Less than a minute into the game, one guy comes at another with a flying tackle.  The attacker soared through the air, perfectly horizontal, five feet off the ground.  He wrapped his elbow around his opponent’s throat, and dragged him to the ground.  There was no penalty called, not even a stop in play.  This is just part of the game.

 Fuck you, rugby.  Lacrosse is a man’s sport.  If only it didn’t have that terrible French name.  It’s like a bad ass guy called Elliot, it just doesn’t fit the incredible potential for violence it will live up to.

 You know how in hockey they play music whenever there’s a stoppage in play?  Well, lacrosse never turns it off.  There’s always some rock anthem pounding in the background.  Apparently hockey players have too much trouble concentrating, while lacrosse players won’t stop rocking out.  Sure, when the visiting team had possession, they turned down the volume, so that they wouldn’t get pumped up, but that seems to be lacrosse.  In fact, the commentator spent most of the game trying to demoralize the other team.  He talked smack, called them out, and led the crowd in chants about how they sucked.  It was as unsportsmanly as it was awesome.

 My sucking at hockey isn’t genetic.  My youngest siblings, Bev and David, and my cousins Matt and loubagga, they all played well.  I always used to tell them the thing I didn’t get about hockey fights was the process.  You are armed and armoured, but you throw away your stick, remove your helmet, and cast off your gloves.  It always seemed like a major tactical error to me.

Lacrosse agrees.  Apparently, you can get a penalty for fighting, but you really have to work for it.  You need to hit the guy enough times with your stick, and you seem to need to stagger him.  In lacrosse, it isn’t a fight until someone’s already hurt, and even then it’s just starting.  Then you stick smack the shit out of the other guy for a while, and he returns the favour until the refs work up the balls to intervene.

 What Puns Look Like

Everything was over the top.  Hell, the cheerleaders, were called the “Drill Crew”.  I know it’s a pun on Roughnecks, but it’s barely single entendre.  Of course, when they were out there, my big boy words weren’t really working.  I had some important watching to do.

Seriously, this is the greatest sport until someone invents naked parachuting machine-gunnery, and I’m still working on a plethora of legal issues to get that league started.  Despite what we would have the world think, hockey is not our national sport.  It’s our most popular, sure, from 2004 to 2009, the most watched T.V. show in the US was American Idol.  Popular does not equal good.  Lacrosse is hockey cranked to 11.  Our national sport is actually the greatest sport in the world and you need to see it.  Treat yourself to some Roughneck tickets.