If you’re a sports fan, the three and a half months after the NBA playoffs and the Stanley Cup draw to a close and before the NFL season and the World Series begin is metaphorical death. There are no good sports to avidly watch (shut it, baseball fans, if you can text during your sport and not miss anything, it’s not a sport), summer television is objectively awful, and ESPN 2 doesn’t even have high school cheerleading competitions running constantly to assuage the athletic doldrums. Which is why I should like the World Cup. I want to like the World Cup! But honestly? The World Cup is literally the longest lasting thing that I could care the absolute least about.
There is no reason I shouldn’t like the World Cup: I enjoy Premier League football, I understand and agree with why the sport is referred to as “the beautiful game,” and the only time music ever incites emotion within me is the rousing sense of nationalism I get when “God Bless America” plays over the speakers at ball games. But the World Cup? Try as I might, I just can’t bring myself to give even the teeniest of fucks.
First of all, it lasts too damn long, for a game that’s so damn slow. Sure, you can condemn the NBA for their nearly two-month long stretch of playoffs, but the games are fast-paced, high scoring, and when a 32-year old veteran coming off a career slump can instantly transform the otherwise most-boring team in the league into must-watch basketball, you can’t deny Adam Silver and his ragtag band of misfits their agency. But soccer? Even though the games are only 90 minutes, thanks to the fact that it is near impossible to score, damn if those 90 minutes don’t feel like when you’re having ungratifying sex and it’s going on too long and you’re wondering if anyone will notice if you use just your pinky to see if your Mom texted you back about paying for your Thanksgiving flight home and goddamit now your Mom is in your head judging you for not being the type of person to stand up for yourself in defense of subpar coitus but still get out of here, Mom, I don’t want you to see me like this but wait, before you go where do we stand on the whole ticket home thing and oh dear god is this still going on? That’s what soccer is like. Except that with the World Cup, it’s like that for a month.
Hockey at least has the decency to balance out its difficulty to score with the best part of sports: dudes punching other dudes in the mouth. But soccer? This is a game where you can get a sidecramp just watching other people run back and forth in vain. Ask any Little League dad from the 90s the best part of sports, and they will all tell you that it’s winning. Anyone who gives you a bullshit answer like “camraderie” or “learning to push yourself” is a liar, and also incredibly annoying. But in soccer, you can have two of arguably the best national teams in the Cup, Brazil and Mexico, end a game with neither of them scoring. That’s it! Everyone who watched all that running, and everyone who did all that running (it’s so much running, you guys), is content to just throw their hands up and go home and drink some caipirinhas and move on to the next round. Me? I like my sports teams not just to strive for the W, but aim for total humiliation as well. 0-0? C’mon man.
And I get it, the camraderie is great. As someone who has been deathly concerned that everyone is hanging out without me far before Mindy Kaling got people on my FOMO level, I want to be into the nationalism, and the crowded bars, but on the real, soccer fans are the absolute worst. I don’t count bandwagon fans into this, because it’s a known fact that they’re the absolute worst (and generally the shrillest people at the sports bar), but the real fans – the ones who can explain to you in depth without Google help how Steven Gerrard transformed into one of the best midfielders to ever come out of England – are incontrovertibly the most annoying people you’ll ever meet. American soccer fans are the hipsters of the sports world. They are far too pleased with their in-depth knowledge of a sport most people in their country don’t have a solid grasp on, but if you were to pad their ego by demonstrating your lack of understanding of their beloved beautiful game? Be prepared to be shamed with the scorn of ten thousand hexagonally-checkered suns.
So, soccer fans, you can keep your scarves and your songs and your complicated tournament scoring systems that allow people who score no points to still inexplicably make it to further rounds. You can save your rousing call to arms trying to convert me, no matter how beautifully written, because I will not be swayed. In the battle of Me vs. the WC, there is no draw. Soccer lost.