Updated: Jul 21, 2018
I’ve tried. God knows I’ve tried.
For years I didn’t mention it to a soul.
But now, in the middle of this latest World Cup insanity coming from Russia, it’s time to stand up and be counted.
So last month, when I was one-on-one with a person I could trust, I asked the question.
No sooner was the question out of my mouth than the person whom I asked stiffened, glanced from side to side and mumbled, “You, too?”
That’s when I knew I was not alone.
The question I asked was: “Am I the only person in the world who thinks that soccer sucks?”
So now I’ve asked a lot of people, and it turns out no American really likes soccer.
Yes, I know they force our kids to play soccer at school, but that’s because they don’t want to invest any money in real sports. All a school needs is a lousy $12 soccer ball and they are in business. If a kid refuses to play, he or she fails gym.
Failing gym is a sore subject with me. I failed gym at Lafayette High School. I say show me a kid who fails gym and I will show you a kid who’s not cut out for the scholastic life.
I’ll bet a lot of readers of this column are being pressured by all this hoopla about the World Cup to watch soccer on TV.
And some of you are pretending to like it.
I can understand that, because the sport has been drummed into the heads of our kids since grade school. And you don’t want your kids to think you’re a boob who knows nothing until they’re at least 16 years old, when they automatically think you’re a boob who knows nothing.
The only time the World Cup held my interest was in 2010, because two of the last four teams in contention were Uruguay and Germany.
I wondered: If they were to face each other for the world championship, which team would the Nazi bastards still hiding out in Uruguay root for?
Soccer is to sports what quiche is to food.
It will never be an American sport.
A colleague of mine’s father summed it up many years ago when he said, “In the United States, soccer is the sport of the future, and that’s what it will always be – the sport of the future.”
However, ask anyone who comes from another country and they will tell you they love “footsball.” Footsball is what they call it, even though their footsball is the round shape that we have always known to be a soccer ball.
I think I have zeroed in on the difference between their “footsball” and our good old American FOOTBALL.
Last week I walked into my local liquor store in Manhattan and the owner, who speaks with an accent from a country that I can’t identify, was talking to his employees, each of whom has an accent from this same country that I can’t identify. I suspect they are either from Guatemala or India. I’m bad with accents.
Finally one of them turned to me and said, “Mr. Della Femina, are you watching the World Cup?”
“No, I’m not,” I replied in a pleasant voice.
They looked horrified and they all started muttering in their favorite language.
“You’re not watching the World Cup? Why?”
My answer was, “Because there’s not enough violence.” From the wounded look in their eyes, I left wondering if they would ever trust me with alcohol again.
The secret is violence. That’s why American football, where 380-pound dolts strive to inflict as many concussions and broken limbs on each other as they can, is so popular in the U.S.
That’s why we all love hockey, which is soccer on ice – but the players get a chance to smash each other against the boards and they all have the opportunity to hit each other on the head with sticks.
There’s even a fair amount of violence in pro basketball, where you can watch talented, 6-foot-10-inch gentlemen, wearing tattoos over every inch of their bodies, jumping up and slamming each other in the nose with their elbows.
Four years ago I decided to give soccer one more chance. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe an hour and a half of watching grown men running back and forth on a field looking like 12-year-old boys who had ingested too much chocolate could be exciting.
So I watched the game between Portugal and the United States.
I dozed off a few times but I did feel a sense of pride in the American team and I was rooting hard for them.
This was my national pride, since if you’re an American you might have noticed that, except for the War on Greenhouse Gases, we haven’t been winning much anywhere in the world lately.
And let me tell you, if the game was between Poland and Slovakia, I would have put on my jammies and gone to sleep.
But this was the American team and it was great to see an American guy named Clint Dempsey give the U.S. a 2-1 lead by hitting the ball into the opponent’s net with either his lower stomach or his testicles. It all happened in a flash and the announcers were too genteel to say, “Did you see that? It appears Mr. Dempsey hit that ball in with his penis ...what a man.”
Anyway, I was excited and ready to admit that when your country’s team wins, soccer can be fun.
I was counting down to the end. “WE WON ... WE WON!” I was screaming at the end.
“Not so fast,” someone who knows the game informed me. “The judges have decided to add five minutes to the end of the game.”
Why? Can you imagine the riot in an American football game if the judges decided to add five more minutes to the game after the time was up?
Why five minutes? The game was over when the time was up.
I come from Avenue U in Brooklyn. When it comes to sports, the neighborhood breeds suspicious people.
The match was fixed. The judges had bet on Portugal and they would keep adding time at the end of the match until Portugal tied the game.
This year the matches are coming from Russia, the host nation, and we all know what a crook Putin can be. The Russians cheat at everything. They threw the Cold War. The fix is in.
Boring and crooked. That puts soccer at the top of my list of sports I cannot watch.
That’s just above curling – the Olympic sport that is so boring it should be declared a crime against humanity.