Pete’s Futbol Experiment: Final Thoughts

The 2012 European Championships have been finished for more than a week and the excitement still hasn’t worn off!

Ok, I’ll admit it, the excitement was never there in the first place.

But I feel like I gave soccer (without a U.S. team) a legitimate chance.I watched well over a dozen games over the course of the tournament, even when I couldn’t stand to watch another. I just kept telling myself, “it will get better.”

But it never did, even in the knockout stages.

My roommate, Super Fan Conor, almost had me convinced that watching the games of the Euro 2012 would be at the least, mildly entertaining.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to enjoy the games that I watched. There were a number of reasons for this.

1. I was unfamiliar with the majority of the players and history of the teams. This one is 100 percent on me. The underlying story lines provided by the players and coaches drive the action in sports and make it extra compelling. Because I didn’t know who I was watching, I felt no compulsion. Even though I recognized a few of the players because they were the biggest names in the game, they weren’t big enough for me to root for or against them. This is the same situation I find myself in while attempting to watch NASCAR, golf tournaments without Tiger Woods and the WNBA.

2.  Player injuries every three minutes. This was my biggest complaint. Virtually every time there was physical contact between two players, one or both of them would fall to the ground in agony. They would writhe around on the ground, holding their arms or legs and praying for death to come quickly. But suddenly, just as quickly as they plummeted, they would regain their composure, stand up and take off down the field like a deer. I couldn’t tell who was pretending to be hurt and who was “legitimately” hurt because of a low pain threshold.

For as long as I can remember, the best athletes were the ones who could play through pain and win, despite adversity. Athletes are supposed to be tough, both mentally and physically. After watching a few weeks of soccer, the players just seemed too soft for me to truly appreciate what they do. I could be wrong, but I’m just calling it like I see it.

3. Soccer fans throw flares onto the field…routinely. I don’t know how many times it happened, but it was enough for me to take notice and become disgusted by it. It’s bad enough in American sports when fans chuck beer bottles or other food items onto the playing surface or at players.

That should never happen.

But a flare? That’s just idiotic. It’s dangerous and distracting. And every time a flare landed on the pitch, the game needed to be halted to clear it and the smoke it created. This wasted valuable time and potential momentum for the players. These mindless stoppages forced me to start doing something else to fill the monotonous, smoke-filled void. And once the game lost my attention, it lost it for good.

4. Ties. During the group stage, there were five draws. I witnessed four of them. As I reiterated many times during my tweets and previous blog entries…

There couldn’t be draws in the knockout stages, so the issue lasted only through the initial round. But that didn’t make it any less irritating. The NFL is the only major American sport that can end in a tie (only during the regular season) and this occurrence is rare. Since 1974, there have been only 17 games to end in a tie. And believe me, I was furious when I witnessed an NFL game end without a victor. In a tournament like the Euros, every game should be meaningful. And if it means something, there should be a winner and a loser. Period. After all, two soccer teams shouldn’t go into a game with the intention of drawing.

Herm Edwards put it best…

5. Shootouts. I can appreciate the work a soccer team puts in to win a game. There is plenty of strategy and hard work going on during a match and whichever team works harder and implements the better strategy should win the game. A shootout blows all of that to hell. It minimizes the skill of the players and goalies to a guessing match. Basically, who ever is luckier wins the game. And yes, the Super Fans would be quick to note that there is strategy. Some players have tendencies that goalies might or might not know. Those tendencies could determine the final result. But ultimately, who ever gets luckier and guesses better what the opposing player will do wins the game. Hell, there isn’t as much luck involved in a poker game as in a soccer shootout. Yes, the NHL has a shootout to determine winners. But that is only in the regular season and it doesn’t involve nearly as much luck as in soccer.

So soccer, it looks like it’s goodbye. You had a nice run. You gave me something to bet on in the bleak summer months between seasons of fantasy football and fantasy hockey. You dared me to try something European. You even got me to remember a few players’ names.

But when it comes down to it, we just aren’t compatible.

I like action and you like infinite passing and kicking the ball out of bounds.

I like winners and you’re cool with ties.

I call them cleats and you call them boots.

I enjoy watching players with first and last names. You usually settle for one.

Really, the Simpsons illustrate my point the best…

 

Ultimately, we’re both better off parting ways.

I don’t hate you and I hope you don’t hate me. And hell, every time the World Cup rolls around, I’ll swing by while watching the United States put in a meager effort. But until then, take care soccer. You have a world of fans that love and adore you. Keep them close. And if you ever want to swing by the States and see how REAL football is played, I’ll gladly purchase you an extra ticket.

Just don’t bring any flares.

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Pete’s Futbol Experiment Update: Group Stage Over

So all of the preliminaries are out of the way for this year’s Euro 2012 and I’m still watching. Not enthusiastically, mind you, but I’m still on board and I don’t believe I’m bailing any time soon. After all, we are approaching the exciting part of the tournament, the knockout stage.

It turns out I didn’t watch as many matches as I thought I did. I missed more than I saw. Here’s what happened:

GROUP STAGE

WATCHED

Poland 1, Greece 1 – Draw

Russia 4, Czech Republic 1

Italy 1, Spain 1 – Draw

Ireland 1, Croatia 3

England 1, France 1 – Draw

Ukraine 2, Sweden 1

Germany 2, Netherlands 1

Italy 1, Croatia 1—Draw

Spain 4, Ireland 0

England 1, Ukraine 0

 

MISSED

Netherlands 0, Denmark 1

Germany 1, Portugal 0

Greece 1, Czech Republic 2

Poland 1, Russia 1 – Draw

Portugal 3, Denmark 2

Sweden 2, England 3

Ukraine 0, France 2

Czech Republic 1, Poland 0

Greece 1, Russia 0

Croatia 0, Spain 1

Portugal 2, Netherlands 1

Denmark 1, Germany 2

Italy 2, Ireland 0

Sweden 2, France 0

 

So I was able to watch 10 and missed 14. So I’m 10 for 24, so I’ve watched about 42 percent of the matches in the Group Stage. It’s not a majority, hell it’s not even half, but I think I have a decent perspective so far. Unfortunately, I wanted to see the most exciting games possible and for me, that means games that result in a team actually winning. Well, unfortunately for me, I witnessed every draw except for one. That’s right, out of the five draws, I witnessed four of them. I want winners!

 

As for the tournament pick ’em I’m in, here’s a screen shot of how poorly I’ve done with my selections, even after advice from the Montrose Super Fans.

A little too much red for my liking

 

Out of 16 people, I’m in a three-way tie for last place. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise for me, considering how little I know about soccer. But I at least figured the advice of the Super Fans would give me some sort of competitive edge. But there’s still plenty of futbol to be played, so somehow, someway, I’m still optimistic I can finish strong.

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