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.