FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The XLVIII Super Brag

by PIER ANGELO

We are a country of excess. We are obsessed with size, quantity, speed, guns, monster trucks; with the Big Gulp, the economy pack, the party size, two-for-one regardless of what it is, the Whopper, the quadruple Big Mac and all-you-can-eat-buffets. We put foodstuff inside foodstuff. And we brag about it. It’s an accepted part of the American obsession with supposedly being number one in everything, believing we’re bigger, stronger and faster permeates many of our thoughts.

This brings me to this year’s Super Bowl. Mercifully the NFL season will soon be over and the day after The “Night of the Living Bored” people will only remember and talk about the ads. I, instead, will be left with the usual nagging question. A question that has probably been asked many times before: why do American sports fans feel comfortable with calling the winners of the “Super Bowl,” the winners of the NBA and MLB titles “World Champions”? Barely anybody else even plays these sports. The Australian Football League winners don’t call themselves “World Champions” of Aussie rules. The winners of the Irish Gaelic Football league don’t call themselves “World Champions.” The winners of the Indian Kabaddi title don’t call themselves “World Champions” of Kabaddi. So why is the team that wins the Super Bowl called the world champion of a sport almost nobody plays elsewhere in the world? Shouldn’t they at least have to beat the winner of the Canadian League in order to partially claim that title? “Super Bowl Champions” or “NFL Champions,” would suffice and it is about as technically accurate as you can get. Calling one’s team “World Champions” when nobody else even plays the sport is a peculiarly American thing. Throwing “World” in because you’ve decided, without ever trying to prove it, that you’re so much better than everyone else that you shouldn’t have to prove it, is just arrogance and frankly makes the teams who claim that title a bit of a laughing stock in front of the rest of the…world.

Brazil, Italy, Germany, Argentina have won multiple World Cups in soccer, the real football, in grueling tournaments. The preliminary competition for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil saw a total of 204 entries across six continents competing for 32 available spots.

The winner will surely deserve the title of World Champions. For the last FIFA World Cup in 2010, 200 teams played a total of 853 matches, over the span of 4 years, as 32 teams qualified for South Africa. Even after 30 years of being an American Citizen I can’t watch an NFL game. I’ve absorbed almost everything “American.” I am very proud of my adopted country but its sports are anathema to me. I must be missing that gene. I did try. I thought it would make me seem straight or butch. Now I do not care. I just don’t get it.

The spectacle is reminiscent of the barbaric gladiator fights of ancient Rome. Muscle-bound specimens in helmets and heavy armor hell bent on trying to kill or maim their opponents. A match played in five seconds increments, probably because they can remember or execute only one play at a time. The game is constantly broken up by loud commercials and field interruptions. After 3 hours of terminal boredom the score is probably 21 to 6. A goal/touchdown sometimes counts for 6 points sometimes for 7, another ingenious American way of creating high scoring games. 21 to 6 in soccer lingo is simply 3-1.

Football players are referred to as athletes but they seem to be running out of stamina whenever called upon to run more than 60 yards at a time going constantly back to the sidelines for a Gatorade or an oxygen refill. And supposedly they are not allowed to use imagination or burst into spontaneous plays.

The coaches do all the thinking and they have to draw them on paper for the players to understand them. I prefer the symmetry, geometry, creativity and dance like coordination of soccer. It’s a beauty to watch unfold as inevitable as the waves of the ocean. By the time this column goes to print there will be approximately 5 months left before the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off on June 13.The single biggest sporting event on earth. More than 750 million people watched the final game in 2010. That’s almost ten times the number that watched the Super Bowl that same year.

Come June 13, I’m taking off from work, I’m taking off from activism, I will not answer the phone or tweet, and my social and personal life will be put on hold until the winners, the real, true, World Champions lift the cup on July 13. Italy, my Azzurri, are four times World Champions. It will be extremely difficult to win a fifth title but let me dream for a few more months, or until they are eliminated. If and when that happens don’t talk to me, don’t call me, don’t come looking for me — unless you have an extra large supply of Xanax and a Blue Ray copy of “Bend it Like Beckham.”

Bill Shankly, a Scottish coach, once said: “Some people believe soccer is a matter of life and death. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

Pier Angelo writes for South Florida Gay News, where this originally appeared.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 28, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Slandering Populism: a Chilling Media Habit
Andrew Levine
Why I Fear and Loathe Trump Even More Now Than On Election Day
Jeffrey St. Clair
Mountain of Tears: the Vanishing Glaciers of the Pacific Northwest
Philippe Marlière
The Neoliberal or the Fascist? What Should French Progressives Do?
Conn Hallinan
America’s New Nuclear Missile Endangers the World
Peter Linebaugh
Omnia Sunt Communia: May Day 2017
Vijay Prashad
Reckless in the White House
Brian Cloughley
Who Benefits From Prolonged Warfare?
Kathy Kelly
The Shame of Killing Innocent People
Ron Jacobs
Hate Speech as Free Speech: How Does That Work, Exactly?
Andre Vltchek
Middle Eastern Surgeon Speaks About “Ecology of War”
Matt Rubenstein
Which Witch Hunt? Liberal Disanalogies
Sami Awad - Yoav Litvin - Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Never Give Up: Nonviolent Civilian Resistance, Healing and Active Hope in the Holyland
Pete Dolack
Tribunal Finds Monsanto an Abuser of Human Rights and Environment
Christopher Ketcham
The Coyote Hunt
Mike Whitney
Putin’s New World Order
Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian, Jewish Voices Must Jointly Challenge Israel’s Past
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 100 Days of Rage and Rapacity
Harvey Wasserman
Marine Le Pen Is a Fascist—Not a ‘Right-Wing Populist,’ Which Is a Contradiction in Terms
William Hawes
World War Whatever
John Stanton
War With North Korea: No Joke
Jim Goodman
NAFTA Needs to be Replaced, Not Renegotiated
Murray Dobbin
What is the Antidote to Trumpism?
Louis Proyect
Left Power in an Age of Capitalist Decay
Medea Benjamin
Women Beware: Saudi Arabia Charged with Shaping Global Standards for Women’s Equality
Rev. William Alberts
Selling Spiritual Care
Peter Lee
Invasion of the Pretty People, Kamala Harris Edition
Cal Winslow
A Special Obscenity: “Guernica” Today
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey’s Kurdish Agenda
Guillermo R. Gil
The Senator Visits Río Piedras
Jeff Mackler
Mumia Abu-Jamal Fights for a New Trial and Freedom 
Cesar Chelala
The Responsibility of Rich Countries in Yemen’s Crisis
Leslie Watson Malachi
Women’s Health is on the Chopping Block, Again
Basav Sen
The Coal Industry is a Job Killer
Judith Bello
Rojava, a Popular Imperial Project
Robert Koehler
A Public Plan for Peace
Sam Pizzigati
The Insider Who Blew the Whistle on Corporate Greed
Nyla Ali Khan
There Has to be a Way Out of the Labyrinth
Michael J. Sainato
Trump Scales Back Antiquities Act, Which Helped to Create National Parks
Stu Harrison
Under Duterte, Filipino Youth Struggle for Real Change
Martin Billheimer
Balm for Goat’s Milk
Stephen Martin
Spooky Cookies and Algorithmic Steps Dystopian
Michael Doliner
Thank You Note
Charles R. Larson
Review: Gregor Hens’ “Nicotine”
David Yearsley
Handel’s Executioner
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail