Periscope Depth

respect yourself; it’s one on one

Though I don’t follow soccer, nor will I ever, I’ll say one nice thing about it: every goal counts.

That’s the beauty of a low-scoring, high-effort game. Every point is worth celebrating. Ripping your shirt off, running around screaming and suffering a dogpile of your teammates aren’t excessive. That’s perfectly appropriate. Given that most of the World Cup games are decided by one or two points, you expect nothing less. Consider the celebration for Paraguay’s second tying goal yesterday. Or Robert Green’s total collapse at letting an easy goal bobble through to tie the U.S. vs U.K. match.


Now compare that to a basketball game. I prefer basketball, it being the sport I was raised on, but try maintaining constant enthusiasm throughout the Celtics/Lakers series. How many of Boston’s 96 points in their Game 5 victory over L.A. were that memorable? That Rasheed Wallace block that he fed to Tony Allen on the fast break? One of Kobe’s three-pointers in the 3rd? What’s the signature image of that game? I’m not saying basketball’s boring, but the game-changing moments don’t jump out at you. You never know the tide has turned until you see the highlight reel.

Of course, soccer has a few more disadvantages. A game of soccer can never be shorter than 90 minutes. There’s the nursing of injuries to coax out a foul. There are all the weird penalty kicks, corner kicks and a baffling array of referee calls. So it’s still not the sport for me. But I recognize the special little moments.

Update: the Brazil/North Korea match either refutes or validates my point. 50 minutes of nothing – no substitutions, no yellow cards, no scoring – until the first goal.