The On Deck Circle

The unofficial home of Real Talk

What I’ve Learned Watching Euro Cup 2008

Posted by Blake Murphy on June 12, 2008

This article has been submitted by Stu Wilkinson.

Soccer Players Dive Slightly More Than The Detroit Red Wings
Sorry to beat on Barbaro here, but as a non-soccer fan writing about soccer I’m required to talk about how much diving there is in the beautiful game. Also, I love complaining about things for which I can’t think of a viable solution. So obviously I’m qualified to go off on a mini-rant about how much flopping there is in soccer.

Now, I’m a member of the “it’s pathetic that Paul Pierce got taken off in a wheelchair” crowd. That moment actually cracks my top three favorite non-soccer embellishments from the past month, a list that carries the same level of prestige as a list of MTV Movie Award nominees. The top three consists of Chris Osgood’s reaction after being hit by Mike Ribiero, Johan Franzen going limp after getting a lovetap from Gary Roberts, and Paul Pierce’s aforementioned wheelchair/magical knee healing device charade. So after I was amazed by Mr. Pierce’s willingness to be rolled off the court during Game 1 of the NBA Finals, I’ve been absolutely astonished by Euro 2008 so far.

At least with the events named above something unfavorable did happen to the embellishing party – Osgood was slashed, Franzen got hit in the head, Pierce felt his knee pop. In soccer, guys just go down without provocation. It’s the only sport where a player will get his toes stepped on and then fall to the ground like he’s had his face slashed by Jason Voorhees. But hey, cheating is a part of soccer. As long as everyone knows that it’s going on and nobody’s saying these guys are warriors on par with hockey or football players, I’m good. More power to the players representing their home countries without a shred of dignity.

“Eurotrip” Was Right
I don’t have the DVD to do some stone cold fact-checking, but I believe that one of hypotheses put forward by “Eurotrip” was that Europe is one big parking lot. After watching the first weekend of Euro 2008 all I can say is well done, guys who brought me “Road Trip” staring Breckin Meyer. How are tens of thousands of lunatics from every country represented in this tournament making the trip to their team’s games, especially with gas prices in the old continent starting at an arm and a leg? Don’t transit expenses plus ticket costs price the average European soccer fans out of prime seats? The answer, of course, is no. The reason why? Europe is the size of a parking lot, so maniacs from Croatia can leave work and just walk fifteen minutes over to Austria and cheer their heroes on.

Thanks to Europe’s unique geography, the fans at Euro 2008 are incredibly enthusiastic. Instead of stiffs in suits occupying the first few rows like you would expect, there are guys wearing the goofiest hats I’ve ever seen. If you’re wearing a miniature castle on your head, how are you affording tickets to the second biggest international soccer? Shouldn’t you be working at a mini-putt course or Medieval Times instead of jumping up and down for an hour and a half plus the four minutes your team’s captain spent writhing on the ground after the opposition’s fullback looked at him cockeyed?

Quick side note: If you don’t think I’m writing a completely off-topic top twenty comedies list that includes “Eurotrip” and would destroy this site’s credibility if Blake ever posted it, you can’t tell the future.

Austria Is Better Than Advertised
My exhaustive Euro 2008 pre-tournament research started and ended with watching some British guy appear on The Score for about ten minutes. He told me a couple things – Portugal is good, Turkey and Russia could be good, and Austria doesn’t belong in the tournament. Austria went out and proved him wrong by losing to Croatia by the slimmest of margins, and on a penalty kick no less. Austria actually took it to Croatia in the second half, causing me to immediately jump on board their bandwagon. Surprisingly there’s still some room, but I think these guys could go out and beat whoever they play next. You heard it hear first.

That said, I know almost nothing about soccer. But I did stay at Holiday Inn Express last night.

Soccer On TV Is Different
My distaste for most things ESPN has been well-documented in recent times, but I don’t just dislike ESPN’s way of doing business. TSN, Sportsnet, and everyone else in the sports media consistently shove anything and everything down my throat when I’m trying to watch a game on their network. I’ve accepted this as standard practice for many years, and then of course Euro 2008 shows up and blows everyone else out of the water with its minimalist TV presentation. No commercials, no cross-network promotions, no Coors Light Cold Hard Facts. The girl of Grey’s Anatomy could have been in the crowd for Croatia’s victory over Austria this weekend and I wouldn’t even know it!

Obviously there is a downside to this way of presenting a game. There are no top-notch sideline journalists like Erin Andrews, nor are there wisecracking commentators like Dick Vitale or Jeff Van Gundy. Also, where are the shots of the cheerleaders and scantily clad female supporters? If Sweden’s fans don’t get some face time whenever I see them play, I might end up flip-flopping back to the side of North America’s sports media just in time for the next season of Dancing with the Stars.

Sweden Will Win
Like I said, I don’t know anything about soccer, but I think it’s pretty obvious that these guys are firing on all cylinders after their win over Greece. Don’t count out my Austrians though!

This article has been submitted by Stu Wilkinson.

12 Responses to “What I’ve Learned Watching Euro Cup 2008”

  1. Mostafa Says:

    Your prediction of Austria beating whoever they play next is a lot more probable than it sounds. They take on the Polaks tonight who are better on paper but don’t have much of an attack AND aren’t the last host nation still in the tournament after the Swiss picked up their 2nd loss yesterday.

    Note: You were one week away from looking like a fucking fool with that prediction since Austria’s third and final game will be against zee Germans who will dominate them.

  2. AJ Says:

    I want to be an earlyish bandwagon fan, who should I root for?

  3. Habib Says:

    holland seems to be the bandwagon favourite after they pwned the wops on monday. plus they have badass orange jersies!

  4. Mostafa Says:

    Spain’s bandwagon has some room. They’ve got some incredible talent (David Villa scored a hatty in their 1st game) and haven’t won an international tournament since Euro ‘64 which could definitely strike a cord with Leafs fans. I’ve picked them to win the tourny but the analysts don’t trust them because they’ve been so shit on the international stage despite having some of the best players in the world.

  5. TSmith Says:

    The Holiday Inn comment actually made me laugh out loud…in a computer lab with 20 other people now all staring at me like I am insane. Well done, sir.

  6. Blake Murphy Says:

    I’m taking Spain since I’m strangely 1/4 Spanish. I guess. Jerseys sound good, too, though.

  7. Jack Says:

    I like the pick of the Swedish victory.

  8. Stu Says:

    Austria sort of gets it done on a shady penalty kick in extra time! Kudos to me!

  9. Blake Murphy Says:

    With respect to Sweden - is Henrik Larsson from Fifa World Cup 2002 for PS2 the best video game athlete of all time? My vote is yes.

  10. Habib Says:

    Larsson is the man.

    Id say sweden is my number 2 behind L’Oranje whom Ive loved since world cup 94 (edgar davids and patrick kluivert were my heroes.)

  11. Mostafa Says:

    I’m with you on the Dutch Habib, Kluivert was actually rumoured to be joining Toronto FC, which would be awesome tho he’s past his prime and probably won’t sign at all. My all time favourite goal which made me fall in love with the Oranje was this beauty from my boy Dennis Bergkamp (who made me fall in love with Arsenal): and same goal but with the most amazing Dutch announcer in the history of Dutch announcers

  12. Habib Says:

    wow! embarrassing the 2 world cup finalists back to back? THE DUTCH ARE UNSTOPPABLE!

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>