What happened was, four years ago in June we had a baby daughter and I ended up watching the World Cup.

I’m not particularly a soccer fan but I found that I enjoyed the show immensely. I’m not a sportswriter but after I started blogging the matches more or less accidentally in a newborn-parent haze, that was fun too, and I got tons of email (that was before there were comments here).

I don’t have parental leave this time, so I probably won’t see as much of the show, but lots of the matches are very early Pacific time... and then there’s BitTorrent. So if you’re oblivious to sports in general or soccer in particular, I apologize in advance for the coverage that is about to occur.

Why I Like It · The sense of occasion, and the widespread joy it brings to so many around the world. Something that causes this much intense shared feeling just can’t be a bad thing. On balance, I’d say the World Cup is one of the good things about being a member of Homo sapiens.

Yesterday, before the opening match, listening to the remarkable howl of the vuvuzelas, halfway between a beehive and a Formula One race, all the smiles and color and excitement; whose heart could avoid lifting? I felt (pardon the cliché) at one with the world.

My Prejudices · This year, I go in without a favorite, not really backing anyone. And I didn’t manage to catch any of the playdowns, so I’m pretty well in tabula rasa mode as regards all the teams. But I’m not without prejudices:

  • I like underdogs.

  • I like attacking soccer; I think the key to the game is finding space and running into it and playing the ball forward.

  • I like African soccer; the firewagon attack of the good Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire teams has provided my favorite international-soccer moments. Eventually one of these teams is going to build a world-class defense and cut through the Europe elite, with its fussy caution-first approach, like a hot knife through butter

  • I like Mexico, because they’re from our group, the one that Canada almost never makes it through into the finals.

  • I dislike, of all things, diving. The #1 thing FIFA could do to improve the game would be to attack it, and here’s how: Since experience shows that the referees on the field can’t reliably detect it, but that it’s obvious on TV, for big matches there ought to be a couple of extra officials watching video streams, on the radio with the chief referee; and a policy of an instant yellow card for every dive.

How To Watch It · I mean, in the case where you can’t sit down in a comfy chair in front of a nice TV. There are a variety of feeds here and there around the Net; perhaps my commenters will fill the details.

Here in Canada, cbcsports.ca has a nice setup that includes several alternate-camera feeds.

And, in what I consider a triumph, I demonstrated that, given a good WiFi Signal, my Nexus One, running an Android 2.2 prerelease, with the Flash plug-in installed (but set to “On Demand” rather than “Auto Start”), I could watch the cbcsports.ca live feed; a bit of lag and jag but quite usable.

Here’s hoping for surprises.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: rns (Jun 12 2010, at 07:42)

s/2020/2010/ in the URL?

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From: Michele (Jun 12 2010, at 07:57)

I fell in love with soccer when the American women did so well in the FIFA Women's World Cup in 1999. Since then, I've paid more attention.

I agree with all of your points, underdogs, Mexico, everything.

Thanks for blogging. We're currently living where blogging is better than TV for coverage.

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From: Football (Jun 12 2010, at 10:41)

you should probably call it football and not soccer if you like that much, just like the rest of us homo sapiens ;)

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From: Martin Probst (Jun 12 2010, at 10:52)

Diving is simply part of the game, accept it. And it happens relatively seldom; most players exaggerate fouls, but pure diving is rare.

I would not agree to the video-referee thing. One of the nice things about football is that it can be played on any dirt place, all you need is a ball. Video proof might be more just, but it harms the character of the game (and the authority of the referee).

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From: Rafe (Jun 12 2010, at 11:24)

Diving is bad, but it's the other side of disguising fouls. I don't approve of either but they will both be with us as long as there's an incentive to try to foul and get away with it or draw a foul and get the ball back.

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From: Leonardo Herrera (Jun 14 2010, at 06:59)

"Football," please. And yes, diving is bad, and kind of accepted as part of the game specially in Latin America and some leagues, like Italy. In England is more despised.

The Beautiful Game. I'm watching Camerun vs Japan right now.

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From: Sérgio Nunes (Jul 02 2010, at 15:46)

You should add "Portugal" to your prejudices, as I noticed in your following comments.

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June 12, 2010
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