Monday, June 12, 2006

Publisher's Note: As the Chow Nation and I are approaching our first blog anniversary, we all decided that it would be a good time to have a guest writer. We thought long and hard over who might fill our shoes, or our dishes for a day, and after prudent consideration, we picked PD Pupperelli, more commonly known as 'the Pup'. Pup actually has journalism and English degrees and a fair amount of experience in technical writing. But the Chows wanted her because she's so darn good at ball. She can play in the air, on the ground, in the house, at the airport, just about anyplace. Nobody better with a ball that the Pup, they all agreed. So herewith is Pup's take on soccer, or football as it's properly called outside the U.S. The Chow Nation is a proud sponsor of the World Cup and are currently hosting all kinds of parties where their friends come over and they lay around Club Chow and watch the games. The Chows, of course, are for China. Pup actually wrote the following as a response to those who find soccer 'boring' and 'sleep-inducing', as a comment in The 3 Lions Will March Again, below.

Sport As a Democracy?
(title courtesy of The Chow Nation, Bob Barker Venerated Elder)
by PD Pupperelli

Okay, a few things for you people to know:
If we changed the way the game is scored so that each goal is worth 7 points...THEN, yesterday's Germany v Costa Rica match would have been a thrilling 28-14 score, rather than the equally thrilling 4-2 result. Face it, if you knew the potential score would be in the 20s or 30s, you would watch, but because we call a goal a goal, it's "low-scoring" and "not entertaining."

That's fine if you don't like the world's sport;
keep supporting football and basketball, where it's really a coach's game and it's the coaches who structure, manage and set up plays for the players on the field/floor; rather than a player's game, where the players are prepared by the coaches in the days leading up to the match, and then on the day of the match they have 90 minutes to play beautifully and brilliantly. In the American sports, the teams and coaches are afforded every opportunity to win games with multiple timeouts and free substition which allow the game to drag on and on; in the world's sport, soccer, it's up to the 11 players on the field to enact change and if they don't get it done in the 90 minutes, then they don't get it done.

I suppose it is hard for people who watch a great deal of American sport to support soccer; American sports echo our models of freedom and democracy. They are very structured and rigid, because we want everyhing to be fair, to be equal, and heaven forbid if one team has clearly better players. We better make sure the other team has an equal opportunity to score: in football, baseball and basketball, it's always tit for get a turn to score, then I get a turn to score; you get a turn to score, then I get a turn to score. I would guess that most Americans who don't enjoy watching soccer don't like it because of the chaos and overall parity of the game, and because it can change in an instant. Despite having superior players the best team doesn't necessarily win and it really does come down to who's more passionate and wants it more.

In American football, baseball, and basketball, certain teams are SUPPOSED to win, whereas in soccer, having the best players doesn't necessarily mean you'll win; that's what I think is frustrating for American soccer-haters--the 'being better' and 'still not winning' aspect of it. A quick look at the most popular sports in the U.S. bears me out: take your basketball, where the current "World Championship" structure gives teams multiple chances to win (best of 7, rather than a one-off) or make a "comeback"; take your baseball where the Americans couldn't even win in their own version (albeit a sucky one) of the World Cup; and take your own American football, where some of the arguably best athletes in the country play, but have to be subbed out every other play because they get too tired to compete.

Me? I'll be watching soccer, where Trinidad and Tobago, one of the smallest countries every to qualify for the Finals, in their first World Cup game ever, can tie world power Sweden, allowing no goals and playing (because one of their players committed a hard foul a few too many times) half the match with only 10 men against 11. Which, incidently, we could never do in America: punish a team by removing a player from the field for excessive fouling, because waaaaaaah! it just isn't FAIR...we should be able to foul as much as we like!

Nope, it's not the land of the free and the home of the brave out there on the pitch but it is who's got what it take for the full 90 minutes, playing and living completely in the present with nothing to rely on but your wits and your skill.

And if you're lucky, the fans will sing to you. --Editor

Notes From The 'Kan EWA

Publisher: JBelle Bellemaison
Editors: The Chow Nation, Bob Barker Venerated Elder Club Chow, Bellemaison
Circulation: Get 'er Done gPrep '04

Kerri Thoreseon Coeur d'Alene Press
Dave Oliveria Spokesman-Review HBO

Thanks everybody! Who knew?!


curtcon said...

PD, JBelle...

Don't know if you heard this today on your local NPR station. Kind of a wonderful story on 'the least hated jaugernaught in world soccer, Brazil.

green libertarian said...

Well, the fact of the matter is, I don't give a whit about pretty much ANY sports, ESPECIALLY professional sports (which includes most Division 1 College teams).

IMNSHO, the societal overemphasis on sports leaves society much worse off in terms of citizen awareness and involvement is the real issues and problems in their communities, state, region, and country, not to mention the world.

To me, sports and this fascination with its statistics and every little nuance of game is some sort of unhealthful mental addiction, well fed by major corporate behemouths who'd rather the sheeple engage in argueing over some vastly over-paid baseball player's new swing, than engage in real life discussion and debate about solutions to the numerous problems our communities, large and small, face. Like the lack of universal health care, grinding poverty, the shrinking middle class, discrimination and unfair treatment, our completely unsustainable economy, our toxic environmental policies, the faster and faster growing gulf between the very rich and the rest of us, need I go on?

I agree that at the micro/team or even individual level, many lessons can be learned from participating in sports. It is physically healthy, woefully needed in our overfed society. Teaches teamwork, healthy competition, striving, and one hopes, how to win (and lose) gracefully.

But WATCHING sports, even in person, gives little of these benefits, and has become an obsession in our society. And is becoming more and more a spectator sport for the rich anyway, seen the price of tickets to professional games lately? One night at the ballpark would wipe out the average family's entire monthly entertainment budget. To watch, in person, a bunch of over-paid prima-donnas kick, bat, or carry a ball around, in a stadium subsidized by the hard-earned tax money extracted from the citizenry, and televised so the sheeple think they're watching something important while being deluged by every form of marketing imaginable to get them to drink alcoholic beverages or buy some other unnecessary cheap junk product or service.

But that's just me.

Is there a game on the boob tube, maybe I might just want to live vicariously thru some athlete? Naw, I doubt it.

vendella von messershmitt said...

Bella Pupperellini,

Nice job.
/nodding approvingly to the mother

I see you even got the men out.

/whispering aside to the mother
Is this the kind of jealousy thing you were talking about?


PDXPup said...

Green, if you doubt soccer's impact on the socio-political facet of the global spectrum, then please read the story at the following link (and also read the book he mentions by Foer):

The examples the author cites are only a few, but they are quite relevant and interesting when you think about them; I mean, honestly, what sports teams Stateside would the Democrats align with? What about the Republicans and Independants?

I do think your point about the over-statisticizing of sports is quite interesting--only on the American broadcasts of soccer do I hear things like "XX midfielder averages over 39 touches per every 10 minutes." In other countries, all they care about is goals, assists, saves, and shutouts. That's really all that matters at the end of the game anyway.

BX_boy said...

Good form.

I love the observation about a coaches game versus a players game.

Fußball ist König.

MarmiteToasty said...

:) I played women football for 10 years...... at local level then county level....... was picked for england trials which were up in Liverpool, but didnt have the finances to travel......and with non supportive parents (they had never watched a single game I played in) then my dream became an impossible one, no matter how many jobs I took, whilst still at school to try and finance my football dream, whatever I earnt my parents took half..... so there was never enough for my travel expenses...... who knows what might of been...... who knows..... :) - but I will say those 10 years of friendship and togetherness with my maties was the best years of my life.... we travelled all over Europe in tournaments and thrashed the Germans many a time.... people seem to think that womens football is kinda new...... nah it aint.. x

jb3ll3 said...


wow wow wow Mel WOW. You are a trailblazer. Hell, you musta been good to thrash the German women! What position did you play?

(broke my heart to read about the finances of the whole thing; if'n I'd been there I woulda paid for the whole thing and encouraged you to study when you weren't practicing. YOU are a seriously good mother, my friend.)

MarmiteToasty said...

Oh hush ya gob, ya'll make me cry lol

I use to play left back :) (thats the last row of defence on the left lol)-I was a natural left footer :)

I use to be left handed as a child, but my dad said I was a freak so everytime I would write with me left hand he would belt me, until eventually I gave up and learnt with me right hand...... soooooooo it was a relief to be a leftie in football :) I still do most things left handed but write with me right hand lol..... weird right?

I hadnt played football for years then about 5 years ago I was playing in our local Football festival to raise money for the village lads team, well obviously no one knew I could actually still play (I surprised meself lol) so we put together a little 'mums' team for one of the games against the blokes.... I was the secret weapon lol..... I booted a 30 yrd goal and as I turn round in me victory salute, me knee twisted and I snapped the ligaments running through me knee, and spent the best part of the next 3 years in and out of hospital having numerous ops lol........ silly cow that I am lol

green libertarian said...

FASCINATING article, PD! Wow, I had no idea of the political/social angle on Soccer. I especially like the part about the Iranians, as I have studied about, and know some young Iranians, and how the large youth demographic in that country rejects the fundmentalist rule of the mullahs. Also, the part about Ox-fam making a big deal about the sweatshop labor that makes apparrel and shoes for the sport, very good work.

I'd have to give that some though about how such political issues might manifest in US Professional sports. The few times I've paid attention, I tend to root for the lowest paid team, and really the only franchise I like is the Green Bay Packers, since they're owned by their community. There's a guy in texas, Mark Cuban, I met many years ago when the computer networking industry was just taking off, and we worked together on some projects. Now he owns a couple of major league teams, The Dallas Mavericks, I forget what else, and he's definitely of a progressive bent. Here's something he wrote recently, on the issue of what's wrong with journalism and the media today:

"I just hired a young, award winning journalist to partner with me on a blog that will do nothing but try to uncover corporate fraud. Young, energetic, fired up and damn the stuff i have seen so far is good. Will the payoff be about accounting gone bad ? Will it be a Skilling and Lay standing in front of the mike picture with accompanying text ? No chance.

If we found the enron scam, I would push to tell the story with a flash animation parody of Skilling and Lay to Shaggies “It wasnt me” along side a Bethany McLean/Peter Elkind quality story. Just as the movie “Enron The Smartest Guys in the Room ” told the story in a detailed and entertaining way, our goal will be to do the same."

I understand his personal reputation in the industry matches his team's name-Maverick(s). He also personally blogs, about his life, about the team, about politics, and about the media revolution.

curtcon said...

For me, my love of Red Sox baseball transcends everything and anything ugly (corporate) that the sport of baseball, and sports in general, has become. The Red Sox represent an almost magical connection to my own personal history.

My very first time at a game...46 years ago now (ow) I saw Ted Williams hit a home run. Hard to explain but to my young eyes that was something akin to an apostle seeing Christ take a stroll on a lake. I never viewed the Red Sox, from that day forward, as just a baseball team.

It was through them that I learned what it was to be the perennial underdog yet still find excitement in trying to buck odds.

They provided me one of the very few avenues of communication with my father.

They fused my very first conceptions on what a community was. Folks in Boston really always did live or die by the day to day fortunes of that team (we died a

They gave me an abiding belief in miracles..1967

They introduced me to literary giants... John Updike: "Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man's Euclidian determinations and Nature's beguiling irregularities." ***sigh

It provided me with my first true hero in Carl Yastrzemski.

It gave me an appreciation for asymmetrical art...Go to Fenway and find me a straight angle.

I honed the fine skills of whistling, beer drinking, girl watching, peanut shucking, signals, rally caps, dirty jokes, faith, hope, patience (rain delays) and learned the most eloquent epithets ever hurled at umpires.

Although I accepted electricity, I loved a mechanical scoreboard (still do).

I learned that continuity in certain circumstances is certain comfort…Williams, Yaz, and Rice accounted for 50 years in left field 1936-1986

I found love can survive despite repeated heartbreak. Bucky Dent couldn’t even kill it.

PDXPup said...

ROONEY'S BEEN DECLARED MATCH FIT FOR TOMORROW'S GAME V TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO! The manager hasn't said if he'll play though... :/


PDXPup said...

P.S. Curt - loved reading your thoughts on the Sawx and Fenway. I've only been to a game there three times (vs. Seattle on Easter Sunday this year; vs. Toronto in August of '02; and vs. a team I can't remember, August of '03); I may be from the West Coast, but I understand and feel everything you said when I'm at the park--just these mixed feelings of overwhelming pride, disappointment, heroics, bitterness, love and heartbreak that overcome you when you get within two blocks of Yawkey Street.