Things I Learned About Soccer While Trying to Watch the World Cup

1. Sometimes when someone on the team for which you are rooting scores a goal, it's a good thing. Everyone is happy. Horns sound. Chants are chanted. Instead of far away camera shots of tiny guys playing soccer on TV, you get far away camera shots of tiny, deliriously happy fans. But other times, someone on your team scores a goal and everyone is mad. And there is no chanting. And the goalie yells what are probably foreign swear words at him.

2. It's always cold in Soccer. You'll need a scarf.

3. When you are a soccer player, everything pokes your eye out. Whether it's getting kicked in the shin or shoved in the torso, it pokes your eye out. It also probably blows out your knee. But it definitely pokes your eye out. Sometimes the poked out eyes and blown out knees are healed by being put on a magic stretcher. Sometimes they are sprayed by a magical healing spray. Sometimes the little guy just realizes that all the other little guys are a block away down the field and they just miraculously heal themselves and start heading over there.

4. Soccer players often seem to have severe and immediate medical reactions to scoring goals. They rip their shirts off in distress. They fall down and writhe on the ground. They run in circles, apparently very dizzy. This is perhaps why they are all so loath to score goals. Goals and points are not required for soccer. Entire games can go by without anyone on either team scoring a goal and people will find it acceptable. People on TV will even talk about how inspired was the play of all those guys who didn't score any soccer goals. Also, soccer people don't seem to mind if no one wins the game. They are even willing to accept a scenario in which points are not scored AND no one wins. In a sport.

5. Yet, somehow -- and I'm still trying to make sense of this part -- somehow, the soccer players themselves are really, really shocked each time they DON'T score a goal. Even though almost no one ever scores a goal. Everyone watching knows that nobody ever scores goals, they're fine with it. But each time one of the players kicks the ball in the direction of the goal, and it doesn't go in, because it almost never does, he shrieks heavenward, with his hands on his head, as if he thought that scoring a goal was a thing that routinely happened in soccer games.

6. If you leave the room to go to the bathroom or get something to eat, you will miss the thing that happens that soccer game. It's probably going to be the only thing that happens the whole game, and you will have missed it.

7. No one knows when soccer games end, not even the people playing them. It is one of life's great mysteries. The Voynich Manuscript. Where the missing socks go in the dryer. The Holy Trinity. When soccer games end. I think maybe it's just not something we're supposed to understand.

Happy soccer everyone.

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

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