Goooaalll!

I think I might be getting even more crotchety as I get older.

I was getting my “oil changed” – no, nothing kinky, just my monthly infusion of … well, I’m not too sure what it is, but hopefully it’s helping.

There’s a TV in the room where this happens. It was on.

I was not in charge of the remote.

Soccer was on. Or football, if you prefer. Personally, I don’t, but I’m not here to judge.

I’ll be perfectly frank. I don’t like soccer. I didn’t like it when I was young, and I don’t like it now. Oh, I know … it’s great exercise. It fosters teamwork. And I’m sure there’s something else good about it, but I can’t think of it right now.

Two teams were playing. One team was in blue and something, and the other team was in white with green(?) stripes.

I was there for about two hours. I think I saw about a third of the game.

That’s my first beef with soccer. It takes too long. I think it officially takes 7 and a half hours to play a game. (OK … I may have exaggerated. It’s more like 90 minutes – although this one went 94 for reasons that only a soccer fan would know.)

Now I know what you are going to say. “But you watch a movie that’s longer than that” or “A Rider game takes longer than that … with commercials.”

Yes, but those things are interesting.

I do like the announcers, though. They are tasked with making a boring game even remotely interesting.

“Jimbo (not his real name) has it up to Johnny. Johnny – What a Great Play! – taps it up to Fred. Fred takes a look and passes to Ferdinand (his real name). AND FERDINAND LOOKS LIKE HE IS GOING TO BE APPROACHING CENTRE FIELD AT ANY MOMENT!

And the crowd goes wild! I’m not making this up. A guy gets near the centre field line and the crowd erupts.

“And he is turned back at the line. The ball goes back to Johnny, who taps it back to the goaltender.”

Now there is a sucky position. Goalie for a soccer team.

Playing Goalie always sucks, and that is why only weird people play the position. Don’t write me. You know it’s true.

The goalie has an impossible task. It’s not like an NHL goalie. Those guys are generally about 6’4″, weigh a couple of hundred pounds, and, with equipment on, leave only 2 square feet of space upon which to be scored. (Note how I pulled out my grade 10 English for that last sentence.)

No … the soccer goal is about 90′ wide and 37′ high. (Sorry, metric types. I’m ranting and don’t have enough time to do the conversion.) The goalie is less than two feet wide and 6 feet high.

Essentially, he’s screwed. And by essentially, I mean – he’s screwed.

Fortunately, there are only two real scoring opportunities per game.

As I continued to watch – did I mention I didn’t have the remote? – I thought to myself that something was missing. Yes, excitement, but that wasn’t it. What was it?

Oh yeah … the pool.

Pool? My dear sir, you are thinking, this is football. There is no pool … except perhaps from all the tears that are shed when a red card comes out.

You are correct. And thanks for calling me sir. There is no pool, but, with all the diving, there should be.

Puhlease! I saw a guy come close to another guy (this isn’t how the announcer called it. I may be paraphrasing.) The one guy tripped over his own feet. Hey, I’m not here to judge. This happens to me all the time – although I do it for free. Anyway, the guy goes down.

The guy he fell close to sees him. He immediately grabs his knee and falls to the ground. As he writhes in pain, the camera moves to the original guy – let’s call him Mr Klutz. Klutzy sees the histrionics. He was in the process of getting up, but now, in an Oscar worthy performance, clutches his thigh and falls to the ground.

As far as I can tell, there has not been any contact between the two. I’m sure, not being a student of the game, that I missed some nuance.

I’d hate to think they were just a couple of cry-babies.

Trainers both go sprinting onto the field, seeing who could get in on the scene first. Coaches on both teams are gesturing wildly at the referee and the other guys (umpires? linesmen?).

Now, if it was me, I would have kicked (heh heh) them both out, after giving them wet willies and nipple twisters.

Grow up, you people!

I mean come on. Even the Russian judge was saying (heavy fake Russian accent) “That was a fine dive on the first guy’s part, but the reaction was pure genius! I give him a 5.9.”

I’d love to see those guys up on the 3 metre (your welcome, metric types) platform to see how they would do in an Olympic setting. I could see Billy Crystal MCing and using these antics in his pre-Oscar shtick. Does he still do the Oscars?

They get things squared away. After lots of crying and very dirty looks. The ref wrote something on a card, I think. (Probably a note to get into a different line of work. One with fewer cry babies. Like in a hospital nursery.) I was getting my blood pressure checked right about then, and I may have been distracted.

“Your blood pressure seems abnormally high,” said the nurse.

“No kidding,” I said. “This game makes me crazy.”

The game continues. I’m not sure if they play straight time or not. It doesn’t feel like, that’s for sure.

Now one team actually gets the ball across the centre line (centre field? half field line?). The fans go insane.

Some idiot pulls out a horn and blows it.

All hell breaks loose. There is singing and chanting. Half the people are on their feet. The home team, I presume.

The announcer is about to have an aneurysm.

“Ferdinand (his real name) has it up to Bill. Bill appears to pull a hamstring but – NO! It’s a trick! Oh Bill, that crafty veteran. The old grab-my-hamstring-but-it’s-really-a-trick trick. He’s completely fooled these youngsters!”

“Bill has it up to Thurston. AND THURSTON LETS THE BALL GO TOWARDS THE NET!

Now, the fact that the ball actually missed the net by 48 feet doesn’t seem to phase the announcer. Poor Thurston is – literally – pulling his hair out. His team mates are all consoling him. There are a few tears. An older fellow in the crowd is given CPR, but he refuses to be taken away to the hospital.

The goalie congratulates himself for not filling his shorts on international television.

And finally, with about 6 minutes left in the game, the blue guys score. Or, to be more precise, the guys in the blue jerseys.

I didn’t think it could get crazier. I was wrong.

The crowd went insane. The coach on the scoring team was going insane. The announcer gave himself a small stroke.

And that’s how the game ended. 7.5 hours of “action”, and the score is 1-0.

That’s the other thing wrong with soccer.

Newsflash – I don’t want to watch a bunch of very fit guys run around, kicking a ball and looking for acting contracts, for 7.5 hours and have the score be 1-0!

The goal, according to my calculations, is 3330 sq ft. How, in the name of all that is holy, can highly paid professionals miss a goal that big? Does it need to be bigger? Perhaps they need a rule change: only little people can be soccer goalies.

Maybe I should have watched women’s soccer. They have to be tougher than the guys. At the very least there might be some hair pulling or eye gouging. Or something.

I know. I know. 4 billion people watch or play soccer. I know. I’m a bumbling, boorish boob for not “understanding” the game. I know. I don’t understand the subtle nuances and the mind games being played.

But I do know boring, and when you look it up in the dictionary, there’s a picture of a soccer ball.