Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cheers, Jeers and Tears

So we are now thirteen days into what has been billed as the biggest sporting event in the world – The World Cup. Even here in Canada, where hockey takes centre stage for 10 months of the year, soccer (or football, if you prefer) is a huge sport. The simplicity of the sport has a lot to do with it's popularity. Really all you need is a ball. Unlike most other sports where you need hundreds and even thousands of dollars of equipment, anybody anywhere can cobble together a ball and have a game of soccer. I also like the fact that for 3 years and ten months you also hear very little about the sport. Than there is a big flurry of excitement during the World Cup and then poof, nothing again for 3 years and ten months. The players go off and begin another run up to the next World Cup in the shadows of Major League Baseball, NFL and Hockey coverage.

Even while watching matches on television you can see why the sport is so popular. It has everything. You get to see the drama of the underdog pulling off a win over the favourite. The bitter taste of defeat for the loser and the rejoicing of the winners. You've got suspense, mainly because of the interminably long times between goals and the large numbers of close misses. Comedy comes from the invariably British commentators and their dry wit and cutting comments. Then there are the ridiculously insane fans who dance and sing and make fools of themselves on world wide television. All in all what more can you ask for? Perhaps less acting?

If you have even seen a soccer match on television for twenty seconds while channel surfing, you've probably seen what I'm talking about. One player bumps into another and the second player falls to the ground in a wonderful exhibition of dramatic acrobatics and flailing. Then they begin acting -- clutching their foot, ankle, shin, knee, thigh, arm, head… really any body part that comes to mind. Then we get to watch them roll about on the ground moaning and keening about their injury for several minutes. In some cases you think to yourself – 'Wow, that guy is really hurt.' It even goes so far as to require the medical team to run out onto the field, stretcher in hand to check out the injured actor, uh um, make that player. Sorry. Finally, miraculously, the player stands, shakes the offending body part and runs off to continue play.

Don't get me wrong, soccer can be rough. I remember a friend who played having his nose broken during a match. Ankles get sprained and broken, and muscles pulled and strained. We were always taught to play hard, do your best and play it straight. If you went down with an injury you had better be injured or the coach would pull you out of the game and you spent the rest of the day warming the bench. Why not make it the same World Cup play? If a player goes down and then miraculously, after a huge show, can continue playing with no ill effects – off he goes. He should be done for the game. Period. These guys are supposed to be the best players in the world. If they can't win by playing their best, too bad. Try harder next time. If they want to perform they should go to their local community theatre group or to Hollywood. At least in Hollywood they give out trophies for outstanding dramatic performances.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Life After The Book of Faces

Even though it has been a month since my last post, it's nice to know that some things remain constant. There are still examples of foolish political decisions, sports stars are still doing foolish things and we are still destroying the environment at an astonishing rate. Surprisingly, the last month has also brought the largest changes in the world of my computer/online life as well. I took the plunge and deleted my account with facebook. I know. Wow! And yet, the sun is still rising in the east and the tide is still rising and falling as usual.

It's hard to imagine how ubiquitous this social networking site has become until you leave it. People quickly get into the habit of going online every day (sometimes for hours on end) and checking up on what their friends are doing, stalking old girlfriends and boyfriends and lurking on people's home pages. This site has taken over social events, business functions and personal news to such an extent that when you no longer take part it's like you've left a cult. Because 'everyone' is on facebook, people no longer tell you about what is going on because they think you are still there.

When I left I took the step of announcing it in my status a couple of weeks before I hit the delete button. It was there in type, proudly proclaiming my intention to leave at the end of the month. I got much grief over this from co-workers. My reasoning was that there were people, 'friends', who I was not in contact everyday or even every week, who might like to stay in contact with me when I was gone from the site. This would give people a chance to get my e-mail address and blog info before it was gone. Pretty considerate, I thought. It was then that I began to realize that people don't read status updates.

Just the other day, almost a month from the date that I left facebook, someone who was a 'friend' stopped me in the street and asked me why I didn't show up on their friends list anymore. After I explained why I was no longer there I got an ear full about how inconsiderate I was not to be on facebook and how I should go back on. Because I was having a not so great day I decided to turn the conversation around and asked why they didn't know I was going to quit when I had announced it for everyone weeks in advance. Turns out that this 'friend' had blocked me from their news feed, because they only wanted to follow a few people's news. As I pressed further, it turned out hat this person was not really interested in who their friends were only in how many friends they had online. I thanked them for making my point and continued on my grumpy way.

In the month since my departure things have gone back to the way they were B.f. (Before facebook). I see co-workers when I work, talk to relatives intermittently, and I attend the events and activities I want to attend. All of this with no requests for boards for barns in 'farmville' or requests to join the fight for some-cause-that-I-should-care-about-but-really-don't-group. I must say that I don't miss the site at all. My life has gone on much as it did before and that really says it all doesn't it?