By Selwyn Duke
This article will be a departure from my usual fare. I will not claim there is some Absolute Truth deeming soccer the bane of humanity’s sports. I do not contend that some objective, divine standard places it in Dante’s ninth circle of athletic arenas, though I wish I could. Sport is a matter of taste, and, as G.K. Chesterton said (okay, so this isn’t a complete departure for me — I’m quoting Chesterton), “There are no uninteresting subjects, only uninterested people.” I get it. And I, I confess, like golf. So mock away. But in this piece I’ll ditch the Mr. Spock act, let my human side emote, may even contradict myself, and will say something.
I hate soccer.
I hear there’s something going on right now called the World Cup. I hear it’s in Brazil. I hear other pundits, such as Stephen Webb and Rick Moran, are commenting on it, taking opposing views. And I hear that the score between the two is 0-0 after 2000 words. But I won’t claim that soccer is un-American as did Webb or like Moran, claim it’s fun. I’ll say something truly intellectual.
When I grew up in the Bronx in the ‘70s, few played that infernal game. I was exposed to it, but could never relate. Why can’t I use my hands? I mean, I have hands. They’re remarkably dexterous appendages. They exist to manipulate all manner of things in the physical universe. I preferred tennis and ping pong to handball, sure, but that was understandable. The racquets and paddles are tools that facilitate the striking of a ball; with them you can achieve a degree of velocity and spin — which could curve the ball in fascinating ways — otherwise impossible. And velocity and spin are cool. It’s as if I need to pound a nail: I take my hand and pick up a hammer. I don’t use my foot.
That’s the crux of this entirely taste-oriented matter. It goes without saying that professional soccer players are highly skilled. But to me it’s like seeing those unfortunate double amputees who’ve learned to paint or play the piano with their toes. I say, “Wow, it’s amazing how man’s spirit can overcome.” Then I change the channel and look for something that can fill the hour’s remaining 59 minutes and 35 seconds.
So if soccer were in the Special Olympics, I’d understand it. Or maybe if it were played by birds. But why do human beings, with their particular anatomical configuration, want to use their feet for a task performed infinitely better by the hands? It’s no wonder the scoring in soccer tends to hover around Joe Biden I.Q. territory. How many baskets would be sunk in the NBA if the players had to kick the ball through the hoop, even if they could block only with their heads? How poor would the scores be in golf if you had to kick the ball down the fairway? A braggart may say, “I can beat you with one hand tied behind my back.” Soccer players try to beat each other with both tied.
Mr. Moran correctly pointed out that, contrary to Mr. Webb’s assumption, soccer is now tremendously popular in the US. I must attribute this, in part, to the influx of people from lands where they can’t afford to play much of anything but soccer. And while I’ve often “inveighed” against immigration, to use the word Rep. John Conyers (D-Soccer) did when citing my work upon waking up briefly in the House, our foreign soccer imports might be the best reason to rethink our immigration regime. “Do you play socc…er…fútbol, amigo?
Check the deportation column.
Call it the Immigration and Recreation Reform Act of 2014. Entry into the US would be limited to those with a history of participation in polo or yacht racing.
So save those feet for what they were meant to do, such as kicking illegals out of the country, kicking Cantors out of office and kicking the economy into gear. A hand is a terrible thing to waste.
© 2014 Selwyn Duke — All Rights Reserved