Just for kicks

“My ignorance on soccer knows no bounds.” – Brent Martin

Yesterday, Brent and Bob were at the Capitol doing serious stuff reporting on the beginning of the special legislative session that will consider changing the pension plan for the next generation of state workers and giving Ford some tax breaks so thousands of Missouri jobs can be saved.

Today, the Miissourinet news and sports reporting team is watching the World Cup. And we don’t know why.

Normally we’re watching C-SPAN or one of the cable news channels to keep up on what’s happening in Congress that might involve our members or what’s happening in other parts of the world of news that might have some impact on Missouri.

But World Cup soccer seems to have some mysterious attraction. It’s like watching Fox’s interminable coverage of a slow-speed car chase in Petaluma, California. There’s no logical reason to watch the match between West Elbowvonia versus People’s Republic of West Kneecapski. But as I type this, Brent Martin is helping Sports Director Bill Pollack watch North Korea and Ivory Coast teams scamper around for 90 minutes or so in a game that will be high scoring if somebody scores a goal.

“You have to watch the poetry and the movement,” Brent just opined — the same Brent whose quote opens this tribute to what is allegedly the most popular sport in the world. Brent normally lives and dies Kansas City Royals blue (he’s been dying for several years). Bill Pollack is from Chicago and still retains delusions of adequacy when it comes to the Cubs. Ryan Famuliner, the newest member of the staff, grew up in the Kansas City area so Brent has somebody to commiserate with. Jessica Machetta likes to shoot things. Bob Priddy likes to watch highly-decorated cars go in circles very fast.

So why in Heaven’s name is the staff watching World Cup Soccer?

Based on remarks various people have made in the Missourinet newsroom, it must be that the staff is watching the games so various staff members can recommend ways to improve the games and make them interesting enough to make soccer a major part of the American sports scene. We fear that if something isn’t done, public interest in soccer will decline after the World Cup about as quickly as interest declines in beach volleyball after the Olympics end.

Here are some of the suggestions the creative minds of the Missourinet newsroom have come up with to make soccer more interesting.

  • a three-point line
  • a requirement that defenders have to have only one leg
  • combining soccer with gymnastics and awarding style points for particular acrobatic moves
  • beginning each game with each team kicking the ball five times from their own goal line toward the other team’s unguarded net at the other end of the field
  • having the Stanford band march onto the field at an unpredictable time
  • playing all games in torrential rainstorms (meaning all stadia should have high-powered sprinkler systems over the fields), or
  • requiring at least one-third of each game be played on artificial snow
  • combining soccer with mixed martial arts so kicking actually means something

Four years ago one of our reporters, John C. Davis, had the correct answer when somebody asked him who was going to win the World Cup. “Chicago,” he said, noting that you can’t go wrong by saying “Chicago” whenever you don’t know the answer to a sports question.

So if anybody wants to know why the news staff of the Missourinet, which normally spends its days dealing with the life and death business that is news, is watching World Cup Soccer, it’s because we’re rooting for Chicago.

Except for Brent. He’s rooting for Kansas City.

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