I’ve slowly become a big fan of Bill Simmons, of ESPN.com’s Page 2. At first, I wrote him off as another Boston blowhard, but after a while he really does bring up some good points. Plus, you can’t knock someone for rooting for their home teams. Simmons is entitled to wax poetic about Boston, as I do about New York.
Yesterday, Simmons talked World Cup. There are many differing perspectives surrounding the Cup, ranging from “Soccer has finally taken off in the U.S.” to “Soccer sucks and no one will care about it come August.” Regardless of your opinion, Simmons explains what the World Cup does right. Case in point? They haven’t allowed the idiocracy to take hold (yet):
I love the Cup because it stripped away all the things about professional sports that I’ve come to despise. No sideline reporters. No JumboTron. No TV timeouts. No onslaught of replays after every half-decent play. No gimmicky team names like the “Heat” or the “Thunder.” (You know what the announcers call Germany? The Germans. I love this.) No announcers breathlessly overhyping everything or saying crazy things to get noticed. We don’t have to watch 82 mostly half-assed games to get to the playoffs. We don’t have 10 graphics on the screen at all times. We don’t have to sit there for four hours waiting for a winner because pitchers are taking 25 seconds to deliver a baseball.
The World Cup just bangs it out: Two cool national anthems, two 45-minute halves, a few minutes of extra time and usually we’re done. Everything flies by. Everything means something. It’s the single best sporting event we have by these four measures: efficiency, significance, historical context and truly meaningful/memorable/exciting moments. You know … as long as you like soccer.
Couldn’t have been said any better. Perhaps our major sports could take a page from the Cup. Though I don’t see that happening any time soon.