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Too Much of a Good Thing?

June 21st, 2018 · 1 Comment · Fifa, Football, France, Russia 2018, soccer, World Cup

The great Gary Larson, creator of the incisive and usually funny-as-hell one-panel cartoon known as the Far Side, has often been on my mind, as the 2018 World Cup enters its second week.

One cartoon, in particular.

It shows several hugely obese people, relatives, I think we are meant to understand, sitting on a porch — with a fried-chicken stand very near to their house.

And the caption has the father saying something like:

“Sometimes I wonder if having the fried-chicken place next door is a good thing.”

Which is me and the World Cup.

Sometimes I wonder if getting every match of Russia 2018 … is a good thing.

Kickoffs are scheduled to benefit those of us living in what is called Central European Time, an area covering most of Europe.

After the opener on June 14, which pitted Russia and Saudi Arabia, at least three matches have been shown every day: At 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

(Except for that one great day, last Saturday, when four matches were played and went off at noon, 3, 6 and 9. That was a day’s work, I want to tell you.)

Not everyone is lucky enough to have the right cable hookup as well as the time to consume entire days of World Cup.

But if a person does not hold a job or go to school … he or she can spend a lot of time sitting on the couch watching the World Cup. Morocco and Iran might be playing!

I have seen most games in their entirety, up to and including France 1, Peru 0, which ended 45 minutes ago.

For one or two matches, I got a piece of a match at the start … or one at the end … until last night, when a town barbecue ran long and I missed the whole of Spain and Iran. The whole thing.

I was so mad!

Not really. Well, a little bit.

But there is something very compelling about the World Cup. Something high and noble and good. (Now I’m just making up stuff.)

World Cup soccer may be the ultimate chewing gum for the eyes. And some of us like a lot of gum.

Consider a day built around three matches, none of which overlap:

Rise at the crack of 9:30. Look at email, perhaps while still in bed.

Since I am a disciplined retiree, I make a point of being downstairs by 10, and I might even run an errand or complete a chore. (I’m very good at unloading dishwashers.) But I don’t make things too grim; I spend most of an hour cruising the web and looking at baseball boxscores and ruing the incompetence of my fantasy team.

By then, it is at least 1 p.m. and the first match is being promoted by the TV guys. “Oh, look, Australia and Denmark are getting ready to play! That could be an interesting match.”

Actually, they are all interesting matches, to me.

I love the chance to compare this national team with that one, and try to understand how each of them prefers to play, and muse over whether teams from the same confederation are more likely to have similar styles.

And this all comes around only every four years!

So, the 2 p.m. match goes till 4, and after a few highlights and discussion, it’s straight into the 5 p.m. match, which ends a bit before 7, and gets the usual preview package, and then we have the 8 p.m. kickoff, with play extending nearly to 10 — and then comes the end-of-day wrap-up (Russia Night Show), with up to half a dozen soccer worthies/celebrities discussing what happened during the day and looking ahead to tomorrow …

And the next thing you know, it’s midnight or later, and I haven’t moved more than 50 feet from the couch … and I’m ready to sleep.

Wake up, get up, make sure the potato chip supply is holding up, and start all over again.

And did I mention all of this World Cup is in French? That’s what beIN gives us, here in France. French-language coverage, which I only partly understand. It features mostly harmless guys, aside from the raving Argentine color man Omar da Fonseca, who shouts a lot in a French accent that even I know is bad … and never shuts up.

Luckily, Fifa will begin to wean me off this “good thing” beginning Monday, when the third (and final) round of group-stage matches begins.

In that period, all four teams from each of two groups will play at the same time, 4 or 8 p.m., so that no one has an advantage of foreknowledge of the final result of the other group game — making it impossible for me to watch every minute of every match and reducing the time slots to two per day for four days.

Maybe that won’t be such a bad thing. I could, oh I don’t know, try to exercise. Send some email to relatives or friends. See some of the other people in town. Sniff the air.

But let’s not be too hasty. I’ve got three more days of three matches per day, and I have a strong hunch I will be at my station, indulging my appetite for the World Cup which, apparently, is nearly bottomless. Unlike my couch.



1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Doug // Jun 22, 2018 at 4:12 PM

    Be happy you aren’t still living in SoCal. Some of matches have a 3 a.m. West Coast start time. GAACK!

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