With World Cup fever thoroughly infecting the internet, I decided to hop on board. Or, at least, wave to the bandwagon that is passing by and maybe jog beside it for a bit, since you actually have to know something about the game of soccer to hop on.
And I don't.
I'm a hockey guy. If you have a hockey question about some obscure player that played 6 years ago for 7 games, ask me. I know the answer. I know what happened to Thomas Phihal. I know who the Oilers drafted in the second round in 2010. I know the names of all the backup goalies in the NHL. I know hockey.
I don't even know how many people are on the field for soccer.
The way I've tried to get into soccer is by making my own player cards for at least one player per team in the World Cup. There are lots of pictures on the internet to choose from, but finding which stats to use, or ignore, isn't so easy. So I've done some research on what's important. And I've made a significant discovery: Soccer has no organization whatsoever.
Seriously. No two websites are the same in regards to stats. I can't even figure out if assists are considered important. Most sites don't even agree on the height and weight of a player. If you can't figure out those things, I think you have problems.
So here's my theory. Before the game the coach will gather his players and say to them,
"Alright, go and kick that round thing around the field for a bit."
"For how long, coach?"
"Ehhh, until your bored, I guess."
Positions? Forget about it. From what I've seen, attacker, forward, and midfielder are all interchangeable. It's like elementary gym class hierarchy, where the fast and athletic kids go after the ball, while the fat and lazy kids hang back by the goal, playing "defense." Goalies are the kids who had either less athletic ability than the defenders, or a high pain tolerance. Or a combination of both (me).
And I'm pretty sure the stats guy for each game always forgets to hand in the score sheet at the end of the game, so guys running the websites are forced to make up numbers to fill the spaces.
Now, every non-fan loves to go on about the divers and wimps that make up 99.4% of soccer players, but I don't think they're wimps at all. One impressive stat I found was that these guys are playing like 60 minutes straight. That's ridiculous. But that also makes sense for why there is so many divers in soccer. The longer you chase that stupid white ball around and watch it go nowhere near the goal, the more comfortable that soft, green grass looks underneath your feet. You'd give anything to just lay on it for a while, but you can't just sit down and stop playing like a toddler or a college student. You need an excuse, like...
"AAHGHGHHHGHGH HE PUNCHED ME IN THE FACE!!!!! I'M BLEEDING EVERYWHERE!!!!"
Then collapse to that luscious sod beneath you and roll away your exhaustion, while screaming out your boredom. You're also helping out everyone else, too, by giving them a break from running. They just don't get to lay down like you.
Soccer also seems to love their tournaments. In order to qualify for the big tournament, you have to play a smaller tournament, which is held a year before the actual tournament, with the winner getting the top seed for the future tournament. Everyone else will be put back into another tournament, in order to figure out the rest of the placement. But to even be eligible to play in the qualifying tournament, you have to win 3 and a half tournaments in the previous 6 months. And that's just for league playoffs.
Tournament groups are the result of really good punchlines in the manager meetings, which starts out with one saying,
"Oh oh, I got one. What about Spain and Brazil...
"That seems fair..."
"...and AUSTRALIA!!!", which is then greeted with a wave of laughter, then immediately made official, because, as overheard from bystanders, "that would be hilarious."
ESPECIALLY if Australia wins.
That's all I've figured out so far. I hope as this tournament goes on, I can gain new insight into the world of soccer.
Or at least new ways to make fun of it.