Friday, June 25, 2010

My loyal reader is prompted to ask why I didn't liveblog the USA-Algeria match from Wednesday. The answer is: I wanted to actually watch the match. It takes me longer to type than you may think. And I feel a certain obligation to record semi-accurately pertinent details from said match, which limits enjoyment, in a sense. I'm thrilled about it all, of course. I follow most sports, and I am an ardent patriot. Landon Donovan, the scorer of the winning goal in stoppage time (because the clock counts up in soccer, stoppages do not affect it per se; thus, the head ref adds the time lost that he deems appropriate to the end of each half) has been the symbol of American soccer for eight years, and perhaps the nation's greatest player. How fitting indeed. The ninety-first minute of the game (with 4 added minutes of stoppage time) was the occasion for the most necessary goal. Had the goal not been scored, and that within the following 3 and a half minutes, the game would have ended in a tie, the third of the tournament for the US, sealing their elimination from the tournament. The 32 teams in the tournament were divided in 8 groups of 4 teams each; they played each team in their group once, earning 3 points for a win, 1 for a tie, and 0 for a loss. The top two teams in each group advance to the "knockout" phase: single-elimination until one team remains. With the victory, the US finished with 5 points; by virtue of scoring more total goals than England--also with 5 points--the US won the group. Imagine that: 3 minutes from elimination to group winner via a single goal! The United States is not a soccer power; England is. The English Premier League is considered the best in the world. Until the US qualified unexpectedly for the 1990 World Cup, their appearance was a rarity. That year was such a shock that Jaleco Corporation made a game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (TM) called GOAL! to capitalize on it. It remains one of the most played games to this day. 1994 saw the tournament come to the US; the American qualification for the knockout stage that year was marred by the murder of Columbian defender Andres Escobar, who had mistakenly kicked the ball into his own goal to give the US a victory. In what could not have been a better storyline, the US played its next match in RFK Stadium in the nation's capital on the 4th of July--against Brazil, the best team in the world. Playing heroically, the US fell, 1-0 on a goal by Bebeto in the 72nd of 90 minutes. Fittingly, Brazil went on to win the World Cup, while the US players became legends. Lalas, Harkes, Jones, Wynalda, and Ramos are just a few of the names from that team, and their success led to the founding of Major League Soccer in the US. Though MLS is not as well-regarded as the best European leagues, it is closing the gap, and boasts players from all over the world. Suffice to say, despite a surprise quarterfinal appearance in the 2002 tournament (led by a 20-year-old Landon Donovan) this tournament has a chance to change how soccer is viewed in America. And this team may surpass even the icons of 1994.

Monday, June 21, 2010

In addition to reclaiming interesting phrases for the English language, join me in my quest to reclaim rainbows. [Side-Rant/Disclaimer: In no way does my lamentation over the hijacking of the rainbow for a cause mean that I hate homosexuals. On the contrary; stop by, have a beer, share some laughs. Provided, of course, that you are not a "d-bag"* as they say in the vernacular.] Remember when a rainbow was just a rainbow? I dare you to wear, display, paint, or draw anything rainbow-colored. You'll have a spontaneously generated meeting of the Triangle Coalition on your front lawn before you can say "Eric McCormack." Which I hate, because 1) I like rainbows, 2) I don't actually enjoy political discussions/heated debates/awkward meetings with church elders every 5 seconds. [Side-Rant #2, Subject: Homosexuality: Is the practice of homosexuality prohibited by the Bible, and thus, morally wrong? Yes. Get over it. Can the inclination to homosexuality be affected by genetic or environmental factors? Inconclusive. But a genetic predisposition toward anything does not mean that thing is determined. Do you favor gay adoption? Hesitant yes. I have not reviewed in depth, evidence suggesting that children raised by homosexuals suffer developmental harm, but am open to such empirical evidence, if it exists. But choosing between children as wards of the State (or worse) and kids raised by homosexuals is an easy call. Do you favor gays in the military? Emphatic yes. If you can shoot a gun/strategize/speak Arabic, etc. I personally am glad you're willing to help, and I don't care (in this context) with whom you have sex. What about gay marriage? Yes and no. The government(s) is not authorized under the Constitution to regulate the sexual behavior of individuals. The people in the several states may draft whatever laws they wish, subject to judicial review for constitutionality. The current state of the law (which allows states to refuse recognition to homosexual unions performed in other states) is a violation of Article IV, section 1 of our Constitution; as such, all laws contravening it should be repealed or voided upon review. But unions sanctioned by the several states are not truly "marriage" in the spiritual sense, whether heterosexual or homosexual. As such, Christians ought to be much more concerned about preserving the religious freedom to prohibit illicit unions (and to teach as they wish) than imposing upon the states' contracted unions a moral and spiritual meaning they do not possess.]

*criminal, unkind, or otherwise unpleasant.