Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

World (-Class Bore) Cup

It's like Big Brother. Everywhere, TV screens with World Cup games. Who's behind this effort to indoctrinate the American masses into accepting that this tedious, simplistic game is actually interesting?

While we were in LA last weekend -- cosmopolitan, elite, Leftist LA -- all TVs were on games. And no one was watching. Why? Well, we walked in for dinner in a trendy California cuisine place and the TV in the bar showed a score in some game of 1-0. A couple leisurely courses later, we walked out and the score was ... 1-0.

Look, we're not like the Thais ...
Buddhist monks in Thailand are too tired to receive early morning alms because they are staying up late to watch the World Cup, a Thai newspaper reported on Wednesday. ...

The Sangha Council, which oversees the tens of thousands of Buddhist temples in Thailand, has not banned monks from watching the World Cup but said it should not interfere with religious activities.

Chiang Mai chief monk Phra Thep Wisuthikhun said he had received complaints about "inappropriate behavior" at seven temples in the province. "It is the duty of the abbot of each temple to supervise the behavior of young monks, making sure that their religious activities will not be affected by the games," he told Reuters.

In neighboring Cambodia, some 40,000 monks have been warned they could be defrocked if they became too excited while watching the games.

"If they make noise or cheer as they watch, they will lose their monkhood," Phnom Penh patriarch Non Nget told Reuters this month.

And we're not like the Chinese...

Over-excitement during World Cup games has been blamed for the deaths of at least three fans in China and one man broke several bones when he fell from a Hong Kong balcony, the Shanghai Daily reported Wednesday. ...

China is obsessed with football but is six hours ahead of Germany, meaning many of the games are shown late at night or in the early hours of the morning -- peak drinking times.

A young man named Wang, watching a game on June 10 at a bar in Changsha, the capital of southern Hunan province, drank too much and died at four the following morning, the newspaper said.

Four days later, a woman surnamed Wei, who suffered from high blood pressure, was watching South Korea vs Togo in Hangzhou, near Shanghai. "She took a shower, went to bed and later died," the newspaper said.

The same day, Li Zhenbao, 27, died in his sleep in Hong Kong after staying up all night to watch three games in a row.

"Doctors suspected he died of a heart attack brought on by over-excitement," the newspaper said.

Ge Zuquan, 29, grew so excited during the game between the Netherlands and Ivory Coast that he ran to his fourth-floor Hong Kong balcony and jumped in the air.

"But he bounced over the railing," the newspaper said. "Doctors said he could have been paralyzed."

Do we really want to encourage this sort of fanaticism here in the USA? And if so, shouldn't World Cup games come with a warning label?

Elites, who sniff at good old American games like football, car racing and even the ever-elegant baseball, seem to like World Cup. Maybe it's because of fans like this guy, who so well captures trendy elite sensitivities.

Or not. Here's Brian Curtis in Slate:

Soccer has become a favorite pastime of the American intellectual. "Many people would say that soccer is the latte or the Subaru of the sporting spectrum," says Matt Weiland, who, with Sean Wilsey, is co-editor of The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup, a new compilation that reads like a roll call of the soccer intelligentsia.
What's the appeal?

Simplcity, say some. Even intellectuals can follow soccer, whereas the rules of baseball and, heaven forbid, football, get in their way. They feel this overwhelming need to shout "Why?!" at the rulebook.

Politics, say others. Where else can little Third World oppressed nations beat the big capitalist monster nations?

Yeah, all well and good, but if you as me (and since you're reading this, I guess you have) it's really just the intellectual elites' herd mentality. They won't admit to it, of course, but they are social wildebeasts, thundering along in tight packs of each other, swinging this way and that with remarkable unity. Today, they're hoofing for the World Cup.

But just wait. If they win and Americans actually start watching soccer, and dying in soccer-laden drunken stupors, and falling off balconies, and ... Darwin save us! ... actually mixing it with religion, well then, the elites will drop soccer quicker than Harvard dropped Larry Summers.

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