World Festival Of Men Hitting Ball With Feet


Hey Seymour

I have never taken a photo of anything ever remotely related to a sport. So instead, enjoy a picture of this weird dog.

The gym teacher sat across from me, looking stern and unimpressed. I had been fat the entire semester, which didn’t really jam with the subject he was teaching. And here I was, sitting fatly despite all of his best efforts. He asked me what grade I felt I should get. He pre-emptively gritted his teeth, already hating my reply.

I launched into what I thought was a fairly compelling speech detailing all of the reasons I should get exactly 75%. I showed up every class in gym attire and put in my best, awfulest effort into whatever fresh horrors he had devised for us. Despite obvious discomfort and a truly thrilling lack of ability, I showed up and did all of the things. The lifting, the running, the kicking, the hitting. Terribly and thoroughly greasy, but I did them.

Gym class was going to slash my average, but I felt I had earned a modicum of understanding for giving it all a go. I laid out my feelings for the gym teacher, who sighed and agreed. Gym class being mandatory only until grade nine, he knew this would be the last he’d ever see of me and the last time he’d ever have to hear me talking so fatly, so pathetically, about sports.

This is to say that sports have never been my bag. The entire time I was being forced to waddle my marshmallowy frame around the track, I was thinking about all of the books I could read, all of the music I could listen to, or all of the things I could simply not be running to. Also probably I was thinking about French fries. Running was to escape from terrors, like the variety of aggressive and unpleasant jocks in PE class, or for when someone passes you a soccer ball. It was not something for recreation, and certainly not an academic pursuit.

The allure of sports has always eluded me. I can understand them in a theoretical fashion, how the connection between team members working towards a common goal can enliven the spirit of each, how a greater whole amasses from the sum of the parts. I imagine they feel a little bit like I feel when I play a collaborative board game or enjoy a concert, except that their limbs are involved and they drink Gatorade after.

But being a massive physical failure with no sense of balance, weak arms, and asthmatic lung capacity means that I will never experience this sort of connection. Playing and winning these sorts of games is basically a bewildering dreamscape, and one that I’m not particularly interested in. Gym teachers seemed to believe that the magic of the game would be enough, that one day it would click in my brain and suddenly I would care.

More bewildering still is watching other people play sports. If I am not directly involved, I cannot fathom pinning any bit of my emotional well-being to the success or failure or a group of humans I have never met. The rise and fall, the surge of energy, the titillation of watching a thing go into a net or a hoop. All of it leaves me colder than a gym teacher’s heart when confronted with a doughy layabout who just wants to read and eat donuts.

And so here we are, in the midst of World Cup fever. Men hitting balls with their feet. Kick kick. Man jumps in front of ball. Other man falls on ground, clutching knee. Other other man also falls on ground, clutching foot. Foot Locker salesman holds up colour card. The grass is nice, I guess. Well-tended. Green-looking.

Screams emerge from the crowd. Passionate, soulful, committed screams. People blast vuvuzelas, or whatever other annoying analogue is available in Brazil. Human beings in the audience weep and whoop and actually totally kill each other over the men kicking the balls with their feet. Around the world crowds sit rapt, devout. Hushes fall, cheers roar, and a choral hymn of car horns call to the heavens.

How can one pass by this many people clasped together in prayer, connected to one another and breathing as one, and not want to try? How can you not see the warm glow of their hearts and not want to come inside from the cold?

And yet.

I remember once still feeling I had to pretend, to put on airs. Total disconnect from sports was unmanly, unpatriotic, unthinkable. “I don’t really watch soccer,” I’d mealy-mouth, “but I still watch the World Cup.” And I’d put on a game or two in the background while I wrote essays or listened to music or ate chocolate or stared aimlessly into space. If being in the same room as a television playing soccer counted as being invested in the World Cup, then I definitely totally watched at least 2 games. Others would ask if I had seen Columbia totally crush Bosnia-Herzegovina or whatever, and I would say yeah, what an amazing game, because years of being a fat nerd has taught me to lie about my interests to make other people leave me alone faster.

But as another festival of European Kicky Kicky enthralls the planet, I feel as though I am old enough and man enough to speak truth. I feel like I can say this with a clear conscience, with the knowledge that I tried, and with the security that comes with no longer giving a crap what people think of me.

The truth is this: I really don’t give a shit about soccer.

Enjoy the World Cup I guess, if that’s a thing you can do. Just keep the honking to a minimum. I know that some people from Portugal did a thing thousands of kilometres away. I’m trying to read.

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25 thoughts on “World Festival Of Men Hitting Ball With Feet

  1. You’ve cottoned onto something big, man – something that most thinking people are vaguely aware of, but find it much easier to ignore: The hive mind mentality. International sport – and soccer in particular – provides a focus for the lumpen proletariat’s energies, while at the same time reaping in colossal amounts of cash for the global elites who organise/run/finance these events. Think of the typical ‘soccer fans’ in South America – brainwashed, ‘sense-experience-only’ peasants whose lives are totally arbitrary, or some blue collar dolt in Europe who coughs up hundreds of bucks a year in order to see his favorite ‘team’ (strangers who he doesn’t even know, indeed!!) play…as for the U.S.? I think that goes without saying~

    The source of the problem is this: We can divide ‘humanity’ into three groups
    1. Actual human beings – spiritually/intellectually/ (and mostly, but not always) physically superior and advanced people. Members of the breakaway civilizations obviously belong to this group.
    2. Aspiring human beings – aware and hard working people who battle their genetic/environmental shortcomings daily in order to achieve some sort of physical/mental/spiritual redemption/meaning in their lives
    aaaaaaaaanndddd~~~~~
    3. Bipedal creatures who are basically animals who can walk upright. These are not human beings in any way, shape or fashion; but of course it’s not really politically correct to mention this, anymore. The average football fan falls into this category. Bona fide members of the lumpen proletariat whose lives/impulses/interests(?) are dictated to them by the elite. Just like in the Roman Colosseum, these animal energies – when not focused for war – are best expended lining the already silken pockets of the super elite….
    ….and they are no more self aware than that mosquito I splatted in the shower last night.

    Aaaaaaaaaah, Soccer fans and fandom: Natural selection at it’s most poetic.

  2. When it comes to PE in school I can so relate to it. It is like you put my thoughts in words. My PE teacher probably was relieved too when it was my last test. Great post again! Hope the soccer fans have a good time!

    And I love Bob’s comment above 😀

    • Heh, nothing against actual sporty people and PE teachers, who actually do teach something important (and most of my kids love the damn class, so more power to it). I just cannot bring myself to care.

      • I can relate to it, I hated sport as a child I was much happier with a book or a computer game, never watched football and when people always talked about it I just wanted to say shut up you’re boring. I think I only ever got in to sport because my teacher said I was bad at it and I wanted to prove something to him.

  3. Even though I always liked sports and even exelled in one, I was never a fan of football/ soccer in school. I really tried my best back then to be “with the group” and man-up to play in between the lessons some games on the field with the others and talk who would win the next god damn league match. However, I mostly had never any idea what was going on and I was pretty pathetic in football, and that as a German, how embarassing!

    For unknown reasons to me, even though I never ever watch football anymore just to pretend, I end up watching at least the games of my country at the world cup. I don’t give a damn about all the other games but when Germany plays I sit in front of the TV and stare transfixed at the screen. Either old habits don’t die easily or I actually cheer for my country in a sport I hate – no idea…

    • You ‘watch transfixed’ because you have temporarily succumbed to some of the most powerful propaganda techniques on the planet.The very same techniques perfected – and utilised with ruthless efficiency – by the Nazi party in that very same Germany!!

      They have the power to hold you captive to a game of ping-pong between 2 spastic gorillas, should they so wish – and you wouldn’t even know it!!

      Now THAT’S power~~

  4. I’m relieved that England has finally, inevitably, flunked out of the world cup at the first opportunity. Now maybe people will stop festooning the streets with flags and I can go back to assuming that if you have an England flag hanging from your window you’re probably a racist bigot who I can safely ignore.

    I once confronted my PE teacher about my low effort grade. I didn’t care about my achievement grade, but I felt it was unfair that I got a 2 for effort when I showed up to every class, tried my best, and worked hard. She said that she reserved 1s for people who did extracurricular sport, like being on the netball team. I argued that it was unfair to grade classwork based on extracurriculars, especially since extra training would increase your achievement grade anyway.

    The next grading period, I received a 1 for effort. Score!

    • Haha, I like the idea of PE teachers just being fed up with arguing and throwing in the towel and handing out grades to the whiniest complainers (you and me!).

      I love what you’ve said about the flag in England. The weird part here is that the World Cup comes right around Canada Day, so people have about fourteen flags flying off their cars. I assume traffic accidents have gone up.

  5. This is great 🙂 And good for you for being man enough to admit it 😉 I don’t follow football all the time, but I do like the buzz of the bigger championships. Obviously, it’s better if your country is involved, but well, I’m Irish 😉 You could always move to Latvia – they don’t give a crap about football here either. But you might have to start lying about understanding ice-hockey instead – a much worse fate! Enjoy whatever you’re reading at the moment, take out another doughnut and switch off the TV 😉

  6. I don’t think gym class should be factored into GPA since it is not an “academic” subject.

    Gym was mandatory from elementary through 12th grade at my prep school in Manila. But in high school if you were on a varsity team then you were exempt from gym class and could use that as a study hall, on the premise that you’d get your exercise during practice and could use the study time in school that team practice would take away from after school.

    I was on two varsity teams (basketball and track) from my sophomore through senior years so I got to skip gym those years. Perhaps because I played sports, I had at that time (and still now have) no interest in watching sports.

    • Being on a team was considered extra curricular here and wouldn’t get you out of gym class (not that this would have been an option for me anyways, since I’m a crappile). It was mandatory up to grade nine and a marked, academic class. Thankfully it was removed from my roster before I needed to start applying to university.

    • I’ve suffered through/pretended to talk about sports so much (I used to work at a golf course) that I could probably pretty capably turn the conversation to that movie, even though I haven’t seen it.

  7. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Finally you put into words what I have felt for the last 50 years. Ever since school I detested sports and my motto throughout my life was “If you can walk, why run?”
    Thanks again.

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