Needed: A Rush Order Of “Soccer For Dummies”

   The World Cup standings can be found by pointing your browser at  And that means?…hang on, I’ll go to their website and find out.

Okay, I’m back but I’m not really sure.  It appears to be an acronym for something but it’s not on the website.  Well, it’s not there for people like me who lack the patience to keep looking.

Anyway, the key here is whether you even care.

I think I do but I’m not sure about that either.   I just looked at the standings and found it a bit confusing.  The U.S. is still in it and we appear to be second from the top of “Group C” with 2 points.  Slovenia, is on top.   Not sure where Slovenia is (in the world, not the standings).  One of those little eastern European countries, I think.  No offense to Slovenians intended.  We just never hear much about you guys.  However, being one away from the top rather than down on the bottom should be meaningful, but I’m unsure as to what our potential is and the couple of sportswriters I’ve been reading aren’t much help.  Not sure whether little Slovenia, is gonna blow us right out of the box.

I don’t know if some of the sportswriters get it either.   It feels as though some either don’t understand the World Cup standings thing or they don’t understand soccer or both.  Or maybe they don’t want to write about it but they have to or they won’t get paid.  That’s probably what’s going on.  Or maybe I just need to try harder.  I’ve been trying pretty hard, though.

Whatever the reason, I wish I could find someone to provide some context for those of us who are interested but who have little expertise based upon our years of living in denial and ignoring one of the two biggest sporting events in the world.   The other would be the Olympics,  but frankly, the games lost something after throwing open the doors to professional athletes.   I mean, the Lakers are again being called “world champions” following an NBA competition which, except for Toronto, was limited to U.S. teams.  If that’s the case, what are we to call the U.S. Men’s Olympic basketball team?  Who are the real world champions?  The Lakers or the Olympians?

I would pick the Olympians.  I’m sure any number of Laker’s fans would disagree.  But hey, the Olympians take on the world, the Lakers don’t.  Another case of denial?  Have we been a little too insular?

Not that any of this really matters.  I mean, it’s just a game….if you discount the millions of dollars changing hands.

And yes, I know  the soccer players are pros too,  but for some reason, at this point, the World Cup just feels like it has more sporting purity than the Olympics.  More of a connection to hundreds of grass roots soccer clubs and the folks in all those small towns back home, while the Olympics are gradually becoming  just one more grand corporate enterprise.

Also, which of the many ESPN and other sports channels am I supposed to go to for coverage of the U.S. games?  Do I now have to subscribe to more channels?  The sportswriters I’ve been reading seem to assume I know all this stuff.   I don’t.   A great many Americans are probably in the same boat.   Compared to the rest of the world, a great many of us are soccer dummies.

It can be embarrassing.  I was at the market buying some fish yesterday.   The man behind the counter had a British accent.  I asked if he had been keeping up with the World Cup.  He pointed under his eyes and said “see these bags?  I was up all night.”  I told him I don’t really understand it all and he said “it’s simple.  You have eight groups with four teams in each group.   They are given so many points for a win and they lose points when they lose a game.  There are yellow cards for this, and red cards for that and yibbidy, yabbidy yooooo.  It’s simple!”  “Oh,” I said, “so that means they go from eight groups down to four during eliminations?”  “No,” he said, as he proceeded to patiently run through the whole process a second time which was very considerate of him, his being dead on his feet from being up all night watching the games, and all.

It’s simple if you understand it, I guess.

It’s probably okay though.  I still haven’t been able to figure out the “BCS.”   I think that’s what it’s called, the BCS?  Or is it the BSC?   Or have they changed it again?  This new arrangement, with a computer-loaded front end,  was supposed to eliminate controversy about who had the best team in college football.  However,  it doesn’t seem to make any sense and I don’t like it.  I liked it better when we had the Big-10 and the Pac-10.  If I understand it correctly the Mormons have crossed over from Salt Lake and the Pac-10 now has 12 teams?  How does that work?  Before the BCS there was still controversy about who was number one in the nation, but at least I could grasp who was going to which bowl game and why.   There were still only 10 teams in the Pac -10.

I do know the Lakers won the NBA championship again.  The riots dominated local tv coverage here in L.A. last night.  It’s something local television can understand and promote.   Still, as Laker riots go, this one wasn’t all that bad.  Windows broken in cars and storefronts, a car was set on fire, 38 “celebrants”arrested and two officers injured.  I wonder who would win in a big riot between soccer hooligans and Laker fans?    There’s an idea for a new reality show.    Something we can all understand and get behind.  We can all watch the riot and blow those damnable, horrific, horrible horns the Africans are into which makes it sound like thousands of giant killer bees are on the way.  They just keep blowing those damn things and the rest of the world pretends it’s okay?

It became so irritating the other night that I turned off the sound.

Ya think somebody’s making a ton of money selling those stupid horns in So. Africa?   Think maybe everything that has anything to do with sporting events on television centers around increasing the amount of ad revenue?    Do ya think?

Boola Boola.

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