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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Soccer... Bah.

Let it be noted that today I wandered and drove the streets of Uruapan, Mexico - in the beautiful state of Michoacan - in search of a place to watch the second game of the 2012 World Series between the Detroit Lions and the San Francisco Giants. I have no affinity for either team; only the bullheaded, ingrained, non-negotiable desire to watch some October baseball.

My wife and I ended up in a little place that sported two high-def flat-screen televisions and tables with overhead lamps that had shades with MLB team names and logos - a good start. The place also boasted serviceable wings and cold beer - things were looking better by the moment. And as my Spanish is halting and profane at best, I had my wife inquire about the Series on television tonight.

There was a five-minute dialogue back and forth, during which I marveled at the coldness of my beverage and planned my attack strategy on ordering another, gleaning the proper grammar from the halting and profane which I had on-hand. The waiter and my wife finally finished their rapid-fire conversation and he walked away, most likely sweating from the effort, with an order for two more beverages. I was pleased about the fact that new beverages would shortly be en-route, not so pleased about the conversation. I gathered from the body language and inflection that the prognosis for baseball was no bueno.

"That meant no, right?" I asked. "All of that..."
"Yes," she answered, sipping from her own bottle, the contents of which were no-doubt much warmer than the one I had finished five minutes earlier. "He was explaining why..."
"I don't care why," I said. "That part doesn't matter. The answer is no - the rest is just hot air..." She shrugged and nodded.

I looked around and pouted a bit. There was a flyer on the wall promoting a local soccer match for charity. "I'll bet they'd have soccer on the television if there was a championship," I said.
"Of course," my wife answered. She was looking anxious for her second beer as well - after all, she had worked hard trying to find out about the World Series; she deserved a little something.

"Soccer isn't even a real sport," I challenged.
"What do you mean - it's very hard. They run up and down the field for mucho tiempo..." She liked to do that - mix her English with a little Spanish. Sexy.
"Because it can end in 'zero'," I said. "Sports do not end it ties - it's not sportsmanlike."

The wings came with the second round of beverages and I continued. "Ending in a tie is like giving up. 'Ohhh, it's okay - we'll just stop here...' Fuck no! You play until there is a winner!" We took a breather to eat - the wings were good. "Who quits before the game is over?"
"What if the time is up?" she asked.
"Then you add more time until somebody fucking wins," I said, dipping a wing into the watery bleu cheese dip. I shrugged. "What does anybody get out of a sport if nobody wins? What is learned there?"
She shrugged back. "I don't know... Sometimes nobody wins - then everybody feels good..."
"NO!" I yelled, waving the little drum and spraying dip on the table. "Nobody feels good - it's no more than a Goddamn participation trophy!"
"What do you mean?"

It was cold beer #3 before I could finish my profanity-laced definition of the participation trophy. In summary: One team wins, one team loses; both teams take home a trophy or ribbon simply for having shown up. The result: The winners feel no passion for the win; the losers feel no incentive to go out and do better next game - they still get a prize. "We need to teach our children to lose," I said. "That is probably more important than teaching them to win. Winning is easy!" The fries were as good as the wings.

"What if your little molleycoddled, participant son goes for a job interview and doesn't get the job?" I asked. "Do you think he'll get a trophy for his effort when asks for one?" I waited... Nothing. "NO," I answered myself. "He'll get a 'no, what you get is the fuck out of my office, that's what you get...'"

We enjoyed the rest of our wings and may have had an additional cold beer. I don't know if I ever made my point about soccer, and I certainly don't know if I ever made any sense with my disdain of the "No One Is A Loser" philosophy in the world of sport. What I did know, however, is that the search for a place to watch the World Series would either muddle on, or I would be forced to follow the game on the faulty Yahoo Sports Play-By-Play feed, which was the sports-watching equivalent to the participant trophy. But it was a beautiful day, and one thing was certain - if I didn't find a place today, there would always be game three.

There's always game three...

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