Cupping the Ball

Make room for another washed-up millennial on the USA World Cup bandwagon, unless you want me to join the European one and dress accordingly:


Just like it doesn’t matter which side the shaft runs along in this marvel of efficient fashion — the result is still a dick on a thigh — it doesn’t matter why I cheer alongside you diehard soccer fans now. It doesn’t matter how much I know about the sport or how long I have been watching it. People enjoy the same things in different ways and for different reasons.

Some folks like sex for the emotional intimacy or presumed commitment. Others think of it merely as pleasurable friction or a vehicle for reproduction. I find the appeal of intercourse to be rooted in the simple yet meaningful idea of a part of me literally being inside of another person. Sometimes the thought is so compelling that I want to do it with everybody around me.

Human connection makes for a powerful stimulus, and soccer is tapping into that for me at the moment. That’s how I choose to enjoy it. I don’t care to wake up before dawn to watch Premier League games or worship star players on another continent except Ronaldo with his shirt off.

But every four years, I revel in the camaraderie, the U-S-A chants, the frenzied flag-waving and age-blind face-painting. I suppose on some level that’s how the Nazi party rose to power, but sports generally provide a safe outlet for tribal fervor unless you are an Argentina or Dodgers fan. Thank goodness Clayton Kershaw is not of Mexican descent, or we would need some fire extinguishers and forklifts to tend to the overturned cars in East L.A. this morning.

It feels good to high five and cheer and boo with the rest of the mob because we all need to feel like we belong from time to time. Thousands packed the Hermosa Beach pier Monday to watch the opener against Ghana on a giant projector screen set up a kickoff away from the Pacific Ocean. All the noise drifting through our office window prompted some coworkers and I to duck out to catch the start of the match. Barely after I realized the U.S. team was the one in red jerseys, Clint Dempsey scores the fifth-fastest goal in World Cup history and I am jumping up and down in a sea of convulsing red-white-blue, covered with goosebumps in the Southern California sunshine. Heck, I got chills just watching television replays of crowds going berserk in Chicago, Brooklyn, Bethlehem and Afghanistan.

This is exciting. Let me have my fun without trying to make me feel like a fraud for paying attention to soccer once every presidential term. The bandwagon was designed to scale rapidly for circumstances precisely such as this. Team USA plays mighty Portugal in 72 hours. I will be cheering among the millions in this country who can’t name more than five of our players, wonder why they don’t just stop the clock instead of adding stoppage time, struggle to see the resolution in a 0-0 final score… and believe we will win again.



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