World Cup mania sweeps the Riverwalk
There’s been a audibly palpable pulse of excitement creeping along the Riverwalk in the last couple of weeks, in a way not seen Planet Hollywood opened its doors and then closed them again. At first, locals anxiously looked to the skies for the Second Coming, but something far more significant had occurred – the beginning of the World Cup 2010. Sports Editor Rob Marshall brings us the latest.
Visit The Riverwalk has teamed up with the Riverwalk Convention Bureau to educate Americans on the rules of what the rest of the world calls Football™, a word which was trademarked by the NFL in 1972. In case you’re new to the game, here are the highlights.
Basic Soccer Rules For Americans
- Soccer is a game of two halves that last 45 minutes each, but sometimes goes a bit longer for reasons we haven’t figured out.
- You must use two televisions, one to screen commercials constantly to compensate for the mindless break-less ball-kicking on the other.
- There’s some significant hugging, instantly-recoverable injuries and spitting.
- The shirt color you think is your team usually isn’t.
More advanced soccer rules
Once you’ve mastered the basics of watching a dozen or so guys running around a field for millions of dollars, it’s time to advance to the offside rule, which is a fundamental part of what referees are checking. There’s no trick – it’s just a simple trick. Put simply, a player must run away from the ball with it approaching from behind him (or in front of him if running towards his own goal), providing a second player from the same team is positioned between him and the ball.
The player is immediately offside when the balls moves at an angle greater than 75 degrees towards to opposing goalkeeper, unless the player who was the second-last to touch the ball has received a yellow card or red flag, or has taken a penalty shot in the preceding quarter. Also, the player is offside if by the third down they haven’t advanced at least 10 yards before the timeout, or that an inning has been captured by the opposing team but only if playing in their home stadium.
We’ve also noticed that some of the players seem to touch the ball with their hands, but almost always the referee acts like he didn’t see it, even though we were screaming at the live broadcast louder than if someone had hijacked a riverboat.
Selecting your team
Apart from a set of rules that could only have been concocted in a mental asylum, soccer is a distinctly un-American game which is deliberately set to prevent the US from winning. Visit The Riverwalk has sent a strongly-worded letter of protest to the Worldcup management, since most games are shown when most Americans are still in bed. Not satisfied with trying to shut us out of the Olympics, the Europeans keep screwing around with the time slot, so it either conflicts with American Idol or that weird infomercial on CNN that you’d normally only see if you were getting up early for the airport.
Seeing as we can barely support our own team, it’s no surprise that they lost to some tin-pot country we’d never even heard of. We immediately switched our allegiances to our good neighbors, Mexico, who promptly lost. So then we supported Brazil, an insider tip we gleaned from the Internet, that promised they couldn’t be beaten. They lost too. Basically, it’s looking like The Netherlands are going to win, which shows just how f***ed up the entire game really is. I’m not even sure why we’re in the contest, though we did discover there was a “South” Africa and that it probably doesn’t have any oil.
Watch on the Riverwalk
Given the early hour of many games, we’ve been down at O’Reilly’s Authentic Irish Pub & Eatery every day around 7am, where Happy Hour extends until around noon. I really don’t remember much of it apart from some obnoxious Scottish guy who was about as decipherable as R2D2 humping a car alarm. We’ve managed to sneak into the Contessa’s rooftop pool for a midday nap, though the Hyatt apparently has a larger pool and flatter chairs for sleeping off the liquor.
This whole World Cup thing lasts forever and seems to have weeks to go. It’s no surprise that the rest of the world needs the US to help straighten their sh*t out when they have a game with playoffs, quarter finals, countries that have lost coming back like freakin’ zombies, and I just wanted to be a sports journalist for baseball. As soon as this competition ends, it’s really to start all over again. Good God.
Rob Marshall is reachable daily at O’Reilly’s until the World Cup ends – or the world ends, whichever is sooner.