Thursday, June 08, 2006

Soccer is Janet Jackson's boob

ABC and ESPN are overrun by the horrible ads -- the ones with U2 music and an Irishman's voice (that can't be Bono) talking about how soccer has saved the world.

At least two blogs that I really like are writing about it. More soon, probably. Then it will be people at work, and Air America, and there will be no escape.

I've made my feelings about this activity quite clear, but I still wasn't prepared for the deluge. The sport's undertones of nationalism and globalist pomposity don't help.

As the poet Alan Thicke once wrote, diff'rent strokes to move the world. But like NASCAR and heroin, I'm content to have soccer enjoyed outside of my presence. We might have soccer to thank for the fact that Europe hasn't had a continental war in 60 years. No small feat, and I'm happy to leave it at that.

And then there's this business about Disney's media empire needing to manufacture a U.S. television market for this sport, and how they're going about it. But that's a more serious conversation for another time. I expect to bitch again before this tournament ends.

The lesson I've learned from this is why some people went apeshit over Janet Jackson's boob. Boob-haters only wanted to watch the Superbowl; I just want to watch PTI. Plenty of people didn't hate Janet Jackson's boob until they were forced to see it; I wouldn't be so annoyed with soccer if U2 music and the Irish narrator (it can't be Bono) weren't in my face.

Boob-haters worried about the future -- more boobs on TV, culminating with halftime shows featuring Janet Jackson's vagina.

I worry that if soccer in this country catches on, I'll have to stomach this garbage for the rest of my life. Already, I'm turning on U2. Hair gel and shiny jerseys? No thank you.

Boob today, goal tomorrow.


22280 said...

I actually think the runup to this World Cup has been refreshing. Soccer fans have refrained from the usual lectures about how important the next month is on a global scale, and the haters have (generally) stopped acting so irrationally threatened by the sport.

The ads are here to stay, though. The World Cup is a major sporting event in this country now, and not just to the usual fringe of recent immigrants and suburbanites with 7-year-old sons.

Note that I'm being specific. Soccer is NOT a major sport in the U.S. But the World Cup, for one month every four years, is absolutely a major event now for mainstream American sports fans.

CrimeNotes said...

The World Cup is a major sporting event in this country now, and not just to the usual fringe of recent immigrants and suburbanites with 7-year-old sons.

That's insane.

One out of every 10 mainstream American sports fans, I'll give you.

CrimeNotes said...

Another thought in response to 22280, and myself:

How much is our differing perceptions of soccer's popularity based on sampling bias? A pool heavily distorted by 1.) urbanites and 2.) sportswriters and their ilk may lead to an inaccurate perception of soccer's popularity. My hunch is that its native-born constituency consists largely of white male professionals, younger than 35, with liberal predispositions and at least a bachelor's degree. I have no way of testing this, of course. A small number of friends are very, very excited for this; a lot of my other friends don't give a shit and are either talking about the Belmont or baseball. This could lead me to conclude that most mainstream sports fans are all excited for the Belmont, but of course I know that's not true. If we get away from New York and sportswriters -- let's say Kansas City, Phoenix and Milwaukee -- is there any interest in the World Cup? And particularly if you were to poll people older than 35?

I have no way of knowing. My hunch is that the "popularity" of the World Cup among mainstream sports fans is largely a fiction being peddled by Disney's television outlets, which would benefit handsomely from the World Cup gaining a place in the American mainstream. My own hostility aside, I just don't see it happening right now. If it does, it will be a product of corporate manipulation, no more authentic than "American Idol."

22280 said...

It's always hard to measure scientifically how popular a given event is, although I'm glad you have the Disney excuse ready.

I base my assessment as much on the reaction of those who don't like soccer as anything. In the past, there would be countless columns, talk-radio rants, etc. leading up to the World Cup about why Americans SHOULDN'T care about it. But there's been considerably less of that this year. You are now the exception, not the rule.

Obviously, there are more soccer fans in this country than ever before. We can thank several factors for that _ including cable TV, the MLS and the fact that our men's national team is actually good now.

But more importantly, those who DON'T like soccer seem to tolerate the World Cup more than in the past. Even Jim Rome was watching during his radio show today with mild bemusement. At this point, most people seem to understand and appreciate the event's importance and the excitement surrounding it, even if they don't get into it themselves.

CrimeNotes said...

As with Howard Dean, John Kerry, MySpace, text messaging, and "Ace Ventura," maybe I'm left in the impassioned minority. Your comments make sense.

On the other hand, this piece in Slate today broke down the elitist joke of it all.

winston said...

oh, it's bono, my friend. and yes, i rewound it on tivo to listen again. i'd listen to the man peddle freaking alka-seltzer.

CrimeNotes said...

I need to go into a pop-culture blackout until this ends. It's turning me into a spaz. Hopefully the U.S. loses tomorrow and everything will calm down.

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