I've watched a bit of the World Cup these last couple of weeks. I have no doubt that soccer has its spectacular moments--here are the nominees for "Goal of the Century"--but I agree with the following two jaundiced assessments.

Frank Cannon and Richard Lessner, "Nil, Nil":

Whole blocks of game time transpire during which absolutely nothing happens. Fortunately, this permits fans to slip out for a bratwurst and a beer without missing anything important. It's little wonder fans at times resort to brawling amongst themselves in the grandstands, as there is so little transpiring on the field of play to occupy their wandering attention. Watching men in shorts scampering around has its limitations. It's like gazing too long at a painting by de Kooning or Jackson Pollock. The more you look, the less there is to see.

(I'd add: it's amazing how inaccurate the offensive play is. Many long passes are intercepted. Most shots aren't even on goal: they're way high or wide. It's as half the passing plays in a football game were interceptions or two-thirds of the shots in a basketball game were airballs.)

Jonathan V. Last, "Foul!":

But there is one obstacle to soccer acceptance that seems insurmountable: the flop-'n'-bawl.

Turn on a World Cup game, and within 15 minutes you'll see a grown man fall to the ground, clutch his leg and writhe in agony after being tapped on the shoulder by an opposing player. Soccer players do this routinely in an attempt to get the referees to call foul. If the ref doesn't immediately bite, the player gets up and moves along.

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