England plays the USA in World Cup soccer tonight. The World Cup is a big freaking deal over here - this is Europe, after all, at least sort of - but England hasn't won since 1966 and really isn't expected to win this year either. Slate has an article up arguing that for England fans, true World Cup suspense comes not from wondering if England will win, but from wondering in what depressing fashion England will exit this year.
Which got me thinking: Where is the suspense for average Americans in the World Cup?
- Believing that this, finally, is the year they will learn the rules
- Believing that this, finally, is the year they will learn the name of an American player who's not Landon Donovan. Or actually learning who Landon Donovan is.
- Hoping Brandi Chastain will take her shirt off again, only to realize this is the bad kind of World Cup - the kind with men, which we don't win.
- Discovering if World Cup football is real football or Communist plot kind
- Wondering why this is all going on when honestly, didn't we just have an Olympics?
- Trying to figure out what channel the game is on.
- Trying to understand the commentary before realizing that the game is in fact on ESPNDeportes, and it's not in English
- Getting pissed off when it becomes clear that a tie is an acceptable outcome in the world's highest-stakes tournament
- Waiting for that hipster in the bar to bust out with exasperated superiority about how soccer is superior because it's a game of skill, or how the US needs to like soccer for the sake of global citizenship, and refusing to refer to it as soccer even though that just confuses the bejeesus out of everybody. And then punching that guy in the face.
For Americans actually intending to take a stab at watching the World Cup, I suggest this excellent blog post comparing international teams to prominent US sports franchises. Sample helpful commentary: England has "won it all exactly one time, and that was way back in the '60s. Since then, they haven’t even finished second. Yet they talk and talk and deify the main man behind that '60s win." Clearly, England is the New York Jets.