By Dylan Wrenn
Listen. I love soccer. It is the greatest sport on planet earth... objectively, in my opinion.
Please stop saying "no one in our country cares" and "no one in our country watches." Simple math will tell you that you're wrong and while we're on the subject, PLEASE stop saying "I don't watch sports where players don't use their hands" because this, simply put, is insane. It is an arbitrary common thread you've found in the sports that aren't soccer and means nothing. I could make fun of the fact that Baseball is played with bats and gloves, which is kind of weird, but I would never, because it's a stupid argument and makes zero sense. That's the way the game is played and has been played for hundreds of years. Why “you people” have such an aversion to cleats and shin guards I will never know.
But this, is not a defense of the sport on the heels of its greatest tournament. This is a takedown of the sport's greatest tournament.
It goes without saying that the major reason we watch sports is to root for our favorite players and teams. New England homers chub up when they see Brady out there. Us Laker fans began uncontrollably tearing up when Kobe couldn't miss. Watching your team do well is magic, but there is something better. Something even more rewarding and possibly more soul crushing. Something that raises the stakes of a sporting event so high that your fragile emotions and sanity hang dangerously in the balance...
That is, watching your team play against a true enemy.
That is watching your team play against a collection of players you F**KING HATE.
Brady beating the shit of the Giants is better than Brady beating the shit out of the Browns, right? Kobe beating the shit out of the Celtics is just better than watching him beat up on the Raptors... oh how times have changed.
THIS is one of the problems I have with this greatest tournament on earth.
THIS is the problem I have with the World Cup.
Hate watching for me is an extremely important part of enjoying my favorite sport. How can you not root against Barcelona or Uruguay when they have a borderline autistic biting, cheating, f**kface, a**hole like Luis Suarez on the team. How can you not root against Brazil when they have tiny, little, whiny, childlike, coward like Neymar rolling around on the field like he got his 45 million dollar leg taken off by a 50 cal. How can you not tune in to see these people lose. How can you not tune in to see these people cry? And cry they do. Grown men don't cry you say? You haven't watched enough Neymar.
Now while the World Cup provides ample opportunity to hate players who are cowards and cheats, it does present that opportunity in a rather challenging manner.
I, being a native of Los Angeles, have no particular ties to any country playing. My allegiances this year are even more dulled with no US team in the cup. With that being said, I do find ways to invest myself in outcome.
I have a slightly homoerotic obsession with Cristiano Ronaldo, so, check, rooting for Portugal. I am a massive fan of a small team from Manchester who may or may not wear red jerseys (do not judge me - I picked a team that won a lot when I was young, yes, but we haven't won much besides the Europa League in sometime so again I say - do not judge me) so I root heavily for the players that share the same crest from August to May.
But what happens when I player I love, dons the same international jersey as a player I hate?
What happens when a player I love is seen hugging a player from an opposing club, embracing one another in joy because they are both working towards the same goal. I'll tell you what happens, I lose interest.
Of course I want Marcus Rashford to win the world cup. Of course I want Romelu Lukaku to win the world cup but the problem is, Rashford is playing on the same field that tiny, T-Rex hand wagging f**ckface Raheem Sterling, and Romelu has the same colored jersey on as that massive Squidward headed a**hole Vincent Kompany. What's a man to do but not care either way.
I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to getting back to the club season so I know who EXACTLY I'm rooting for, because when lines of allegiance are blurred, the product on the field just isn't that great… for me.
See you in 2022 for the next one in… Qatar?