All around the world
O.k., so I'm starting to get into the World Cup soccer thing. This week, I'm going to start calling it "football" and wear my one yellow t-shirt around. The action starts Friday morning at 9 our time. It looks like all the games -- wait, I think they're called "matches," right? -- are on cable, but not streaming live on the internet (at least, not in America). I'll try to watch at least parts of a few ga -- er, matches -- at the beginning, although it looks as though it may take a couple of days for the real fireworks of the tournament to start in Deutschland. (I wonder if Cousin Jim will get into this, since he was stationed over there in the Army. Which reminds me, when is he going to blog about the time that Granny Bogdanski came to Germany to visit him? But I digress....)
I know virtually nothing about the World Cup, but I've now taken a look at the tourney setup. There are 32 teams in there, broken into eight groups of four. They play a kind of round robin -- each team plays against the other three in its group, which takes around two weeks all told -- and then the two best in each group advance. There's some kind of scoring system based on win, lose, or draw, but that's for the advanced kids at this point.
Some of the groups are stronger than others, and so it matters which group you wind up in. I take it that the USA got itself dropped into a difficult group, while the powerful Brazil squad got into an easy one. Is that part of it fixed? Is this like women's figure skating?
Anyway, just to keep me awake during the June Madness that's about to begin, I've picked a team in each group to root for. Given my lack of "football" expertise, the selections are almost random, but does it matter at this stage? I don't know or much care if they stand a chance, dang it, but here are my boys:
A - Poland. I mean, come on, that one's obvious. The match against Germany should be a good one.
B - England. So I have something in common with the Kinks.
C - Argentina. Because it's all the way down there.
D - Portugal. How I wish I were watching the games from there.
E - USA. Of thee I sing.
F - Brazil. They've got this Ronaldinho guy who's the next Pele, maybe.
G - Togo. This is the year.
H - Spain. See Portugal, above.
All right, the excitement mounts. Now you soccer types out there, help me out with the rest of this -- is there a halftime? And you can't touch the ball with your hands, right? Can you bump guys out of the way? Do they do that hockey thingie where the ball can't go across the line before the players? They don't have "icing the puck," obviously, but is there something like "grassing the ball"? Is it like baseball, where you can read a good book while the game's on and not miss much?
When the fans get nasty, will ESPN and ABC show it, or will they act like nothing's happening in the stands? Are there cheerleaders? Who buys advertising time for these games -- are they selling cars and beer, or is it sardines and hair mousse? Is that guy who screams "GO-O-O-O-OAL!" still around?