I suppose I should talk about poker here, but I don't want to. Poker is already shoved down everyone's throat. Almost every electronic device a person owns can be somehow linked to poker: computer, television, cell phone, and the ipod. Pretty soon I'm sure my ice maker will offer spread limit Omaha. People who enjoy reading poker blogs have many options to choose from — all of which have more knowledge and advice than I could ever offer. Besides, my book will only make you a better poker player the way watching a car accident will make you a better driver.
Late night talk show hosts were making their jokes about Americans not caring about soccer or the World Cup. Every other country gets beyond excited at the prospect of taking on the world, but for us, it's old hat. We've been doing that for at least six years — and we can use our hands.
I care about the World Cup, if for no other reason, because I like watching people deliberately use their heads and faces to hit things.
The television commentators have a slew of heartbreaking/tragically hopeful stories about a country's civil war being put on hold for the Cup or a player's dramatic rise from some BFE slum to international star. This schmaltz is nothing new in sports and, usually, I'm a master of Tivo-ing past the corny stuff or muting it. Maybe it is the times we're living in, but this time I'm buying it.
That one English guy with cornrows kicked a sphere past a guy from Paraguay into a net is nothing special, but that hundreds of millions of people around the world watch and consider it important is something special. I don't think our leaders here get that. We like our own world championships to be won without dealing with suspect foreigners, except for the odd Cuban.
That Americans don't care much about soccer is old news. Beating the Americans on the field will not be considered a great sporting feat by any great team, but other countries — especially third world ones — will certainly take a measure of pride in handing us our hats.
Here's the funny thing: The worst thing for America's image would be if we won. It might be a good Cinderella story, which everyone loves. It would absolutely gain our team worldwide respect. But it would be really bad for America because we still wouldn't care. If we won the Cup, I doubt there would be a national holiday, teeming streets of revelers, or even one of our colorful drunken riots. Many citizens of the world, having spent their lives wishing and hoping for the World Cup, would see our indifference as unforgivable. No matter. I doubt very much we'll take the Cup.
Now, to more important matters. What the hell is Snakes on a Plane? I know it is some sort of Internet phenomenon, but what? Jon Stewart was making jokes about it, which means it is widely discussed. I feel like an idiot for not knowing what all the references to Snakes on a Plane are. Not that I'm unfamiliar with feeling like an idiot, but feeling dumb over something dumb is bad.
Books mentioned in this post
Pat Walsh is the author of How to Win the World Series of Poker (or Not): An All-American Tale