Blame it on England and Kobe

The other day a friend of mine, while congratulating me for finally getting into the world’s favorite substitute for war, wondered why the hell North America calls it “soccer” as opposed to football, which is what everyone else calls it. “What is a soccer anyway?”

Well, friend, I have looked into this one. Apart from high taxes, burning down Washington, D.C. 196 years ago, the ongoing catastrophe in the Gulf Coast, and Simon Cowell, we can blame another one on the British. Soccer’s full Christian name is Association Football. This strange name was to distinguish it from other football games, like Rugby Football, Australian Football (the Aussies have their own rules, apparently), and Gridiron Football—a.k.a. real football. Now, the thing is association is a difficult word to abbreviate without sounding dirty. I would have had no problem writing Ass. Foot., or a more colloquial Ass. Footie. (To say nothing of the equipment: Ass. Foot. Balls.) However, the Brits are more modest fellows than I am, and simply abbreviated with three other letters: SOC. Throw in a penchant for adding the -er suffix to just about anything and an extra C . . . and there you have it.

Don’t you forget it, either. Any of those limey bastards give you guff about being a dumb American who calls it “soccer”, tell them both that and the birth of the United States is their completely fault.

Bobby: "Why do you hate what you don't understand?" Hank: "I don't hate you Bobby!" Bobby: "I was talking about soccer." Hank: "Oh yeah, I hate soccer."

Conversely, soccer players should take no guff from the Hank Hills of the world who contend soccer was “invented by European ladies to keep them busy while their husbands did the cooking.” My first foray into the World of Cup was exhausting to watch, and the physical prowess on display was crazier than I anticipated. Those guys have to run a lot on a huge field for ninety-plus minutes kicking a ball around, and maybe score once every three days. (The exception, of course, is the case of a Germany/Australia matchup, where ze Germans will score every five minutes, and the Aussies dream of playing by their own rules and score nothing.)

One moment in particular which exemplified the amount of punishment these guys put themselves through to entertain us: US goalie Tim Howard took cleats to the ribs during play and will be playing again in the next match against the English [correction: Tim Howard is cleared to play against Slovenia on Friday -HB]. I’ve had a rib injury before. The only thing less pleasant than a rib injury, possibly, is a bad ear infection. All you can do is be in pain for six weeks while the bone heals.

I should note that every single drug test for the World Cup came back negative. The pansies in the MLB can suck it.

. . . And on the note of another sport whose athletes could make Mark Maguire cry, there’s the next (last?) NBA Finals game, eh? We’re close to sealing that deal, aren’t we? Jesus Christ, for the first time in the entire series there was a team that played like they wanted to win. When I normally watch basketball, I get bored every ten minutes when the whole thing evolves into a a foul-off/free throw contest. I start thinking back to the pickup basketball games I played with the neighborhood kids growing up. Whenever we’d get bored of playing we started figuring out ways to sucker punch each other in the testicles. So when the players on the court start looking bored with the game and want to start playing H.O.R.S.E., my reflexes tell me to gird my loins and run home. However, watching Game 6, I was impressed with the Celtics’ performance. Shit for case studies in the playbooks of the future.

The Lakers, on the other hand, are set to rename their organization “Kobe, Artest, and Some Other Guys” next season. I wonder what the scene must have been after the game in Lakers Land.

Kobe: What the fuck?
Artest: Yeah, what the fuck, team?
Other Guy: Uh, the problem is you should have been busy playing basketball instead of shoving Kevin Garnett to the ground and pretending Rajon Rondo pushed you back really hard.
Artest: Shut up. The real problem is you didn’t pass the ball to us enough.
Kobe: Yeah, not enough. Don’t let it happen again.
Artest: . . . or else I’ll choke you during practice when no one is looking.
Kobe: And I’ll force myself on you sexually. So can the shit, uh . . .
Other Guy: Gasol.
Kobe: Yeah, whatever.
Artest: Did you know you look like a llama, Garson?
[Phil Jackson walks into the room]
Kobe: Hey coach. What a shit show.
Phil Jackson: I used to coach the Bulls!

And so on. Allegedly, of course.

The mopping up doesn’t stop there, either. Boston PD arrested Edward Lopez, an L.A. man (okay, he’s from Whittier, but it’s only an hour east of L.A. so it counts) who was selling counterfeit tickets to the Finals. Allegedly, he sold tickets as high as $525 to unsuspecting suckers who—frankly—got what they deserved. Anyone who’s got that much money to blow on a game either needed to learn a hard lesson about trolling for tickets on Craigslist, or has too much of the stuff anyway.

Which isn’t to defend Lopez, either. Someone needed to tell that fucking amateur that this is Boston, not L.A. Scalping is where it’s at here in the Bay State. Counterfeiting is a whole other matter.

Finals should be wrapping up tonight in L.A., unless the Celtics totally blow it. God help them if they do.

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