Wednesday November 26, 2014

World Cup: World class or no class?


View from the Cheap Seats is kind of an extension of the newsroom. Whenever our three regular reporters, Calvin Daniels, Thom Barker and Randy Brenzen are in the building together, it is frequently a site of heated debate. This week: What do you think of the World Cup?


The World Cup of Soccer, is one of the greatest snore-fests, er I mean sports event on the planet. All right, I will concede for many, soccer and especially the World Cup, it is a matter of massive national pride.

Thus for some sports fans that means their interest is tweaked.

For me it signals the time when its hard to find good TV since so many soccer games are on and I can get back into reading.

There are two reasons for my complete and total lack of interest.

To start it is soccer, a sport in my top-five of never want to watch, alongside tennis, golf, car racing and a fifth sport that I have yet to identify as being as bad as the aforementioned four. Ninety-minutes of mundane passes with the likelihood of a goal about the same as the Edmonton Oilers winning the Stanley Cup just does not cut it for me.

It might help overcome the general dislike if Canada had a team in the mix, but in soccer Canada is in about the same realm Brazil is in hockey. We really are not particularly significant, so with no national team to rally behind the World Cup lacks even less interest.

It’s about the same as watching the Aussie Rules Football League, it does not mean much to me as a Canadian.

So I’ll pass on all things soccer in favour of a rousing evening watching the grass grow or paint dry.

— Calvin Daniels

Growing interest

In the interest of full disclosure, before I go about defending the World Cup (soccer), I have to admit, I am not a huge soccer fan. I don’t really follow any teams or leagues--although I do keep my eye peripherally on MLS and will tune in a game between Canadian teams if one of my higher priority sports isn’t available. I don’t know the players, except the truly international stars.

This is mostly a matter of familiarity. Unlike today, with the 20 million channel televerse and perhaps even more importantly, Internet streaming, I grew up in a time when we simply didn’t have much access to sports other than hockey, football and baseball. There was no (or very little) professional soccer in North America.

I do love me some World Cup, though. No doubt it has something to do with the clash of nations, the international rivalries, the excitement it generates among fans. It is, after all, the world’s most popular sport and “the beautiful game” as coined by the great Pelé.

In North America, it still hasn’t really caught on as a spectator sport outside although more kids are playing it in Canada now than hockey. This makes all the sense in the world because it is so accessible, a pair of shoes and a ball and you’re off to the pitch. Parents also don’t have to worry as much about debilitating injuries, particularly concussions.

Detractors always come up with the same old argument: It’s boring, there aren’t enough goals, not enough shots on goal. To me this translates to “I don’t like soccer because I have not learned to appreciate the great skill of the players and the nuances of the game.” That’s a statement that can be applied to any game—yes, even hockey.

One of these days, Canada will make it to the World Cup and I suspect we will see a lot of converts once we are competing at a high level just the way Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic created a lot of Canadian tennis fans this past weekend by respectively making it to the final and semi-finals at Wimbledon.

— Thom Barker

Love it

I absolutely love the World Cup. And that’s saying something, seeing as I do not much care for soccer otherwise. Any league games, such as any match in the Premier League for example, are completely uninteresting. I’d (almost) rather watch Star Trek, which is equally as terrible (but a completely different topic).

However, you take those same players, put them in a Croatian jersey or a Belgian shirt and I’ll watch the entire 90+ minutes, just hoping something will happen.

For some reason, and I can’t put my finger on it, international soccer is just something that is of great interest to me.

Perhaps it’s the way the crowds support their own and taunt the opponent, singing songs of derision and singling out certain star players to ridicule and mock.

Maybe it’s the very obvious National pride that courses through the players’ veins as they don the kit of their National team, playing for their country in the hopes of bringing pride to their Nation (and the horrible shame should they lose... Three Lions, anyone?).

Maybe I just love tournaments and would religiously follow a coin-flipping tournament if something of that nature were to happen (I honestly do love tournaments).

Heck, even without Canada taking part the World Cup still holds my interest. The chance for an underdog to make a name for itself is just too good to pass up. There is always that one chance that a team such as Costa Rica could beat Italy, Uruguay and Greece and draw with England despite, supposedly, being outclassed.

So while some people might talk about how boring the World Cup is and how they’d rather watch grass grow, that’s just because they don’t actually understand how important the World Cup truly is to any Nation involved.

We all saw how Americans embraced their National team as they played in this World Cup. And it’s not even in their Top Four sports.

So to wrap it all up, I love nearly everything about the World Cup. From the goals, to the saves, to the fans and the chance.

I just hate the diving.

— Randy Brenzen



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