- Rick Reilly, Columnist, ESPN.com
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Here are the top 10 most annoying things about watching the World Cup already:
1. That pesky cerebrum-blowing incessant buzzing sound coming from the TV set. "Babe, something's wrong with the TV," my wife said Saturday. But there wasn't anything wrong. It was the dreaded vuvuzelas, the yard-long plastic horns (voo-voo-zella) that South African fans blow all the time, without rhyme nor reason, when something is happening and when it's not (it's usually not), during timeouts and time ins, during halftime and at the breakfast table and while they're on the bus and while doing their taxes, until you just want to stab two fondue forks deep into your ears and stir. They never stop. It's like having a desk in the center cubicle at American Bee, Inc. They sound like 80,000 yaks getting sick. They are the leading cause of Tylenol sales in the world today.
2. The embarrassing photographer bibs the guys on the bench have to wear during the game.
They're very purple and dorky. My God, who knew you could make a World Cup team and be made to look like a geek? Hey, are you on the American national soccer squad or do you throw bags for Northwest Airlines?
3. The Twinkie-fingered gloves goalkeepers wear. No wonder the English goalkeeper allowed that easy shot to give America a 1-1 tie in the Group C opener. You couldn't stop a beach ball with those big goofy things. What, is Hamburger Helper a sponsor? Why must they be so huge? Doesn't Roger Rabbit need them back? And where do the batteries go? How are goalkeepers expected to hang on to the ball with them on? And is it difficult to play goalie while also taking things out of the oven?
4. The godforsaken vuvuzelas! Make them stop! One of the charms of soccer is the singing that fans do. There is always loads of singing and chanting because every game is 1-nil, so there's plenty of time for singing and chanting. Soccer fans sing and chant inane hilarious things like, "We are from Norway! We came on a plane! And we are very drunk!" But we don't get to hear the singing and the chanting because of the horrible, hideous, heinous vuvuzelas! My god, they should take them into the mountainous caves region of Pakistan and play them until Osama bin Laden comes running out, screaming, "OK, OK! I give!"
5. All the faking. I haven't seen this much bad theater since I saw former "American Idol competitor" Ace Young starring in "Hair" on Broadway. These guys collapse as though they've just caught a javelin in the groin every time an opponent so much as asks them for the time. These guys make Paul Pierce look sincere. Sell it somewhere else, Sven. We live in the U.S., where hockey players pop their eye back into their socket without missing a shift. This will be the new rule when I'm made president of FIFA: If you stay on the ground longer than 30 seconds, you're out of the game; 45, you are taken directly to the nearest hospital; 60, you get a telethon.
6. The yellow cards. I love the way the refs come running up to the player as though he has just taken out a chainsaw and sawed somebody's hand off. The ref looks very stern and upset. And then all the ref does is snap his little yellow piece of paper out of his shirt pocket and stick it in the offender's face, as though the little yellow card has some kind of superpower. As if to say, "Ha! you are powerless against my little yellow piece of paper, which shows your less-than-average marks from third grade!" I'd love to see that in the middle of an NBA fight. Can you imagine seeing some ref come running up to Rasheed Wallace after laying out Carmelo Anthony with a roundhouse right and sticking that yellow card right in his face? He'd soon be digesting it through his ear hole.
7. The ties. In the NFL in the past 10 years, there have been two ties. As of Tuesday morning, in the first 11 games of this World Cup, there have been five ties. You will not see more ties at a J.C. Penney's Father's Day sale. I hate ties. Doesn't anybody want to win in this sport? All these ties are about as exciting as a Jonas Brothers roundtable on sex.
8. The World Cup itself. Really? All this running and vuvuzela-ing and pulling off shirts for that trophy? It looks like somebody soldered it together in their basement -- after drinking a handle of Jack Daniel's. It looks like something you'd use to prop open your Tuff Shed door during spring cleaning. It's gold and small and looks like somebody accidentally melted it somewhere along the way. I mean, there IS chocolate in the middle of that thing, right? Maybe I just don't get it.
9. Stoppage time. Why can't we know how much time is left? Why must it be such a mystery? Whose idea was this? Why do only the refs get to know? Wouldn't it be more exciting if we all knew? You tell me which is more exciting:
10. The vuvuzelas from eardrum-hellas! Don't tell me it's discrimination to want them to stop. Don't tell me it's an essential part of South African culture. If it is, it's an annoying part of their culture. Yes, I know that centuries ago, the vuvuzelas were made from animal horns to call the village elders in for a meeting. And I'll bet you five wildebeests that when the elders finally got to the meeting they said, "Would you STOP already with the blowing? You're making me crazy!" I've been to Africa four times. They do some of the most beautiful singing you can imagine. At the World Cup, I'm hearing no singing. I'm hearing no chanting. I'm hearing 80,000 kazoos on steroids.
What gives with the goalkeepers' gloves? Why must they be so huge? Doesn't Roger Rabbit need them back? Isn't it difficult to play soccer while also taking things out of the oven?
A. "Ten seconds left now! Kaka needs to get a shot off here or it's over! Five seconds! Kaka wheeling! Two seconds! There's the shot! And "
B. "Well, the ref should be calling this game shortly. A minute or two. Maybe more. Actually, I don't know. Nigel, do you know? Kaka seems confused. He's dribbling. Wait. Now he's stopped to examine a small scab, and well, that's it. The ref says it's over. I guess that's it, then."
All we get is B. Somebody needs to put some stoppage to stoppage time.
But it still sounds better than Ace Young.
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13hMichael C. Wright