Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

June 24, 2014

Seven things that I like about the World Cup

The key to enjoying any sport is to fully embrace the addiction. To a non-golfer watching grown men walk down a fairway to club a small ball towards a green is perverse torture. The true golfer, however, embraces the tension before the hit, observes the swing with care, relishes the ball’s flight to the green and joins the crowd in the oohs and aahs that follow. Looks like madness to an outsider - and it is an exquisite, diverting and addicting form of madness.

To the uninitiated, soccer surely seems the same. For those of us who have caught the bug, however, the World Cup is lovely summertime diversion. Here are seven things I like about it:

1. There are three games a day: One at noon, one at 3 p.m. and one at 6 p.m. The announcers don’t switch between games. You and the whole world focus on one game and only one game.

2. There is lots of action but little scoring. In soccer, 11 men kick a round white ball down a field and try to get it into a large netted goal. However, they must get around 11 other men who are intent on a) keeping them from doing this and b) gaining control of the ball and getting it in the goal at the other end of the field. Both teams have a 12th player charged with guarding the entrance to the goal. So most attempts to get a goal fail. Like basketball, something is always happening but unlike basketball there isn’t constant scoring. In fact, it is unusual to have more than five goals made by both teams combined. A typical score is 1-0. This means you can go check the chicken on the grill and probably not miss any scoring.

3. You can follow the game without completely understanding the rules: Slugging another player isn’t allowed and gets the offending player kicked out. But as the point is to get the ball in the goal, it’s pretty easy to follow the action even if you aren’t quite sure why one team gets a free kick or why the shaving cream boundaries are where they are.

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