Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
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:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Rob Urie
The Twilight of the Leisure Class
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
Pepe Escobar
Afghanistan; It’s the Heroin, Stupid
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Julian Vigo
“Ooops, I Did It Again”: How the BBC Funnels Stories for Financial Gain
Howard Lisnoff
What was Missing From The Nation’s Interview with Bernie Sanders
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Richard W. Behan
Installing a President by Force: Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Andrew Stewart
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Uri Avnery
Abu Mazen’s Balance Sheet
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Louisa Willcox
Tribes Make History with Signing of Grizzly Bear Treaty
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Ishmael Reed
Millennialism or Extinctionism?
Frances Madeson
Why It’s Time to Create a Cabinet-Level Dept. of Native Affairs
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
David Yearsley
Bring on the Nibelungen: If Wagner Scored the Debates
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]