Viva Italia!

Italy defeats France to win the soccer World Cup, 5-3 on post-overtime penalty kicks.
And thus, Italy, which has some kind of soccer scandal going on back home, can put it aside for awhile with raucous celebration in a sport… about which we stateside care pretty much… nil. As in 1-nil, what announcers insist on calling a 1-0 game… of football… on the pitch… and other stupid terms favored by soccer snobs.
Look: the Loquacious Pup plays the game (or a version designed for six year olds, anyway), coached by me… and we did well this year (thanks to our ringers!) losing only in our last match to a team that was actually good (and that largely through a coaching mistake of my own.)
Which is to say that even though soccer is probably the most widely played sport in this country, it will never, EVER catch on as a spectator sport here. And the finale of the World Cup proves exactly why.
The difference between our actual national game football (the game as played here) and soccer (the game that just completed its World Cup), or between soccer and our official national sport, baseball, is context and arbitrariness. Basketball features the same arbitrariness, btw, but the scoring is so rapid fire that who can complain? Hockey… suffers from the same problems as soccer in its arbitrariness… which explains why it lags the other three sports in interest here.
Case in point: baseball is entirely context: every pitch sets up the next pitch; a man on and two out in a tie game is different than with a 2 run lead, etc., etc. Context. Football (not soccer) involves field position, and set plays based on… context. Unlike baseball, where only the batting team can score, football does have the possibility of “arbitrary” scoring with the interception or fumble recovery… but again, the location of these events is part of the context.
In soccer, two teams can play their hearts out for 89 minutes, only to have a stupid pass or an absurd bounce get past a goalkeeper… but that’s not bad enough.
We can watch the two greatest teams in the world play a masterful, exciting bout for two solid hours (including overtime) only to decide it all on penalty kicks, a method as unsatisfying and arbitrary as rock, paper, scissors. Yes, it would be tedious to keep playing until someone scores in regular play, but then, removing players from each side every few minutes to open things up might help that… or how about keep playing until somebody wins, however long it takes?
And that’s just it. We may live our lives in an arbitrary, unfair, unsatisfying way… but we’ll be damned if we take our sports that way.