The Other Football

Argentine Footballers Celebrating After Scoring Against Poland

Yesterday, I watched the World Cup match between Argentina and Poland. Unlike most viewers, there are a whole lot of teams I like. I realize that the United States is still new at this game and can be upset by the likes of Liechtenstein or Moldova. A generation from now, I suspect that what we call soccer will be more prevalent, if for no other reason that parents won‘t want their sons growing up brain-damaged like Herschel Walker.

In yesterday’s game, I liked both Argentina (as I’ve visited their country three times) and Poland (because I’m Eastern European myself). Argentina won the game 2-0, but both Argentina and Poland advanced to the quarter finals. I think it was because the sum of the team members’ jersey sizes was a prime number.

The announcers kept talking about how surreal the end of the game was because so many teams were still in play, irrespective of their win/loss standings. Also considered in the standings were scores for remembering to say “please” and “thank you”; the number of syllables in the first stanza of their respective national anthems; the teams’ overall dental hygiene; and how well the teams could pronounce the name of the country they were in. (I think the latter is something like “Catarrh”, no?)

Argentina dominated the game, but the poles had one real hero in their goalie, Wojciech Szczesny. (Gesundheit!) For the entire first half, he batted away everything the Argentinians could throw at him, including soccer balls, off-color epithets, and one extremely rusted steam locomotive. Only in the second period did two goals get by him.

The Star of the Polish Team: Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny

Although soccer football does have its problems, such as the higher mathematics involved in calculating who gets to move on to the quarter finals and the treatment of draws. In American sports, there are a lot of stops and starts to allow for advertisers to plug their products and services. Soccer football games stop only for injuries, and then they add a mysterious number of make-up minutes after the regulation ninety minutes. I guess Americans will just have to get used to all that intensity and uncertainty. The rest of the world seems to have.