Saturday, June 12, 2010

12 June 2010: Global

So the World Cup started yesterday. For those with any interest in the beautiful game, it's a chance to see who's really any good and find out how England will manage to disappoint in new and exciting ways. (The way the draw works out, it's pretty difficult for England to lose to Portugal on penalties this time, which means they'll have to think of something new).

South Africa v Mexico was a good start: that goal from Shalalalala (start humming 'Is This The Way To Amarillo') was pretty special. I kept thinking 1990 and Cameroon v Argentina, but South Africa were not ruthless enough in defence (for which read: didn't get players sent off for battery and assault) so the equaliser came. That could be an interesting group: I'd assumed it would be France and Uruguay through, and it may well the case, but from what I could tell, France looked a bit lacklustre in that game and that means (1) I'm not so afraid of England playing them in the QFs (assuming both with their groups) and (2) maybe France won't win their group. Maybe they'll go out at the group stage, a la 2002?

Meantime South Korea and Greece are at half-time as I write this: South Korea winning and I'm back to puzzling how much bribery money changed hands in 2002 to get them as far as they did that year. No enquiry was ever launched, but some of those refereeing decisions in favour of the Koreans back then made Maradona's hand of God look positively regulation. And England-USA to follow later, of course.

But I won't blog too much about results etc: you can get that from the BBC site. This blog, if it's about anything, is about bringing unique and different insights from my brain or other inside sources (usually the Saints forum) so you can be a little ahead of the curve. So what can I offer on the World Cup that you can't get? Well, for those in the UK, how about a British view of American World Cup coverage?

The World Cup is being shown here - every match - on either free-to-air or basic cable. So, not quite as good as most places in the world, but not bad. The contract is held by Disney (believe it or not), but that means ABC for free-to-air games and ESPN for the rest. ABC, naturally, are showing England-USA this afternoon, along with a bizarre variety of other games and then most of the main ones as we get towards the end of the tournament. Clearly however, the schedulers know little about the World Cup because they've also scheduled the most pointless, unwatched game in the tournament - the playoff for 3rd and 4th place between the semi-final losers - to be shown live on ABC. Nobody cares about that game, nobody watches it and even the teams are made up of squad players. In 1990, England played in that game and I believe Tony Dorigo actually got picked. That's how nothing of a game it is.

The other good news - and news that might make UK fans jealous - is that while you Brits have to listen to John Motson and Clive Tyldesley -
sheesh, two-nil to South Korea now -
we get to have Martin Tyler doing the commentary. (Favourite all-time Clive Tyldesly quote: "on a scale of one to ten, you'd have to say Wimbledon have done pretty well".) The rest of the team are the usual ESPN suspects led by Derek Rae, but I'm pretty happy with that.

The downside, however, is that due to Comcast cable TV performing a digital switchover last month, our ESPN and ESPN2 is currently off, pending us figuring out with the landlords how to get hold of a digital box from the cable company. So that means I'm watching it on (which is pretty good) or - and here's the irony - using my secret method of watching UK TV online (no I'm not going to tell you how I do it). So as of right now, I'm hearing Jon Champion commentating for ITV on the Korean onslaught, and have to wait for this afternoon before the free-to-air ABC lets me get back to the American coverage for the big game.

Andy M visited last week and we discussed what it means in today's world to be living in a different country but still very tied to where you came from. For me, it remains weird: we're clearly in Indiana, clearly established in our community and work, clearly familiar with local events ('Ribfest' today outside our place... the noisiest and rowdiest festival of the year, which two years ago finished with police chasing people through the alley and in the car park)... and yet I'm watching Come Dine With Me or Time Team on Channel 4, eating Lincolnshire-style sausages and dry-cure back bacon and writing a blog that's mainly read by Brits. When you emigrate, you were traditionally supposed to leave - to make a clean break, and maybe go through some culture-shock training first. For us, the internet has meant that British life is so close that the things we miss - walking down the street to the greengrocer or butcher, Big George's tandoori chicken kebabs, Shahi takeaway on Lodge Road, walking or cycling in the New Forest - are fewer in number and don't seem as far away. Which makes homesickness different - more specific,maybe - but also means it happens less, I think.

Hard to tell. Still, this afternoon I'll clearly be backing England over the USA, even if he does pick Heskey.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Well, I won't be watching the World Cup. Instead, i've opened the Jonathan Creek boxset i've been saving for the time that the world goes Football Crazy!

Nowhere is safe though, I retreated to a Doctor Who forum earlier as i thought noone there would be talking footie, but sure enough, first thread was discussing whether the clashes between footie and DW would be a disaster! ho hum.