Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Favorite Couple: Soccer + Basketball

Soccer's closest cousin is basketball (I'm not alone in thinking this). While basketball's scoreboard couldn't look more different from the minimalist tally of an exemplary football match, the best games in both sports have nearly identical point differentials (1-2 points). They are distinguished by similar brands of spectatorial intensity - the time-outs in a basketball game are all that keeps its audiences from having a mass stroke. Fútbol fans are as crazy as their heroes are fit - we are conditioned by the insane emotional demands of a sport that requires you to spend 90 minutes on the edge of your seat or screaming at the top of your lungs.

I stand by my February comments:
Watching a baseball game has the pleasures of a day out with your friends. Watching a fútbol match is like a crazy one night stand with a sex fiend. There's no rest, no pause for reflection - it's like jumping off a very, very tall cliff. Twice. This is why football fans are so nuts. And sometimes dangerous. Think: Fatal Attraction x 40,000.
I love any attempt to couple basketball and soccer. Like the guys in one of my neighborhood parks who warm up before a soccer match by playing keepy-uppy on the basketball court, and heading the ball into the net. And then, while I was amusing myself with this Kaka homage (recommended to me by youtube, no doubt for its gay disco soundtrack, which I adore) I came across this bit of backyard genius:

I don't understand why there is a hoop in this guy's grassy yard - a few folks on the youtube page ("impossible soccer shot") raise this as evidence of fakery. But if you don't have a paved driveway, and you want to practice free-throws and jump shots, a hoop in a grassy backyard will do. And maybe he put it there to practice this shot. People have dedicated themselves to crazier things. Here, though, the ball sure looks like it goes in and then bounces off the post and lands in the bushes to the right.

Doubters also say this guy's celebration isn't nearly as intense as it should be. But I've seen that particular brand of cocky restraint excersized by teen masters on my own team who act like there is nothing more banal than their jaw-dropping footwork. And then there is Berbatov, famous for the "lack of joy in his celebrations." So I'm not a big fan of using affect as a measure of the magnificance or veracity of the goal given us in these personal videos.

If people resist the idea of this video on the assumption that it can't be done, perhaps it's a reflection of an unwillingness to sit with the idea of this odd couple. But these two sports have more common than people seem able to realize. Both, for example, are associated with underprivileged classes, requiring a minimum of resources to play and enjoy. And yet we continue to imagine them as so far apart.

So, thanks to whoever you are with the marvelous "do" and the shot of shots. I believe it, no doubt because I want to.


1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with you about soccer and basketball being similar. They are the only sports I love to watch. When I was young, I went to all my little brother's soccer games. At college, of course I was a basketball fan; I attended KU--national champs!


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