Tag Archives: Soccer

Understanding Racism, the Easy Way

I was driving through the streets of Los Angeles in silence on Tuesday, processing the US Men’s National Soccer team World Cup loss that had just transpired literally moments beforehand. Dejected, but not distracted* (hop to the footnotes if you’d like my brief take on the USMNT’s campaign at this year’s cup).

 

And then, while working through the rotation at a four-way stop — much more effectively than Jürgen Klinsmann worked through his rotation in Brazil I might add (zing! hashtag topical) — some A-hole goes out of turn** and has the gall to stare me down while his charming female companion yells “Go back to Ohio!” out of the passenger window. I yelled back my own incredibly clever retort (something along the lines of “Where did you learn to fxxxing drive?!” …Sorry, mom***), and proceeded to my next destination. But for some reason, that interaction stuck with me and left me in a negative sort of funk for much longer than it should have. And I spent the better part of the evening on and off trying to figure out why. I don’t know that I fully understand why it effected me in such an unpleasant way, but there are a couple of obvious reasons that I thought I might share with you, by way of exorcism for myself and maybe a way to cope with your own life’s small unpleasantriesº.

 

Before we get to it, credit where credit is due, the fact that they identified my license plate as Ohioan (it’s a pretty basic plate — white with one red and blue stripe at top and bottom, I don’t even think it says Ohio on it large enough to read unless you’re quite close) and were able to use that as the basis for their easy insult in a matter of a second or two is passably impressive, and while it doesn’t make up for the dimwittedness of the rest of their actions, it’s only fair to give them a modicum of credit for being so quick on the draw with their idiocy.

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 3.35.30 AM

 

As anyone who moved to California from a flyover state can tell you, you become something of an apologist for your home turf sort of by default. I’ve spent something like half my life or more in Columbus, Ohio, and while I’m generally quick to point out that I’m a SoCal native, truth be told Columbus is a fine city (better than a lot of similarly sized towns I’ve been through in my touring days) that has plenty going for it, particularly in terms of art and commerce and other hip credentials that the millennial/hipster crowd loves. Frankly, if the weather didn’t suck a strong 80-90% of the time and if I were trying to pursue a different industry, I’d probably still be there (also a great place to raise kids if any of my actor friends are looking to ditch the dream for something more practical). However, none of this has quite made it in to the Ohio stereotype, wherein it is assumed that all Ohioans are cornfield-owning, animal husbandry-ing, slack-jawed country folk with nary a care in the world nor the sense to process it if they did have one. My biggest annoyance at being associated with the MidWest (aside from the MISERABLE Ohio State University Buckeyes, whom I dislike to a fairly extreme degree) is this perceived (albeit clearly unfounded) lack of mental capacity, and by extrapolation, lack of worth. In a heartbeat I had been judged, deemed of a lesser intelligence, and yelled at by these morons…all while they were the ones in the wrong. I’m not much of a guy for road rage (or any rage for that matter…who has the time/energy for that sort of nonsense?), but I found myself wanting to track the offending car down and either beat the crap out of them or explain to them in completely inarguable terms how incorrect and dense they were. Not a very Christian sentiment, I admit. Obviously none of that happened and by the time I was at my friend’s barcade (bar + arcade = barcade, maybe my favorite invention of the modern age) birthday party that night I had gotten over it and was mulling over far greater concerns (like how did pinball ever get so popular? I mean, even before video games were invented I can think of about a million things I’d do before I’d want to watch an oversized marble bounce around erratically in a game that, by definition, can only end when you lose. It’s like building a civilization: you never really win, you just do a little better each time until everything collapses and you start over…isn’t that right The Greeks?).

 

And that takes me to racism (what doesn’t these days, AM I RIGHT? [pauses for huge amounts of laughter, crying hilarity tears, slapping of all nearby knees, etc.] hashtag still topical). What those douchebags in their puce Ford Bronco did in a second is what we’ve been doing on and off to everyone else for hundreds (or even thousands) of years. Taking something arbitraryºº like a license plate (or where you’re from or clothes or gender or the color of one’s skin, etc.) and immediately making a negative snap judgement about the associated person isn’t just wrong, it isn’t just folly, it’s mean and dehumanizingººº. It’s something we all do every day, and it needs to stop if we’re ever going to overcome our own limitations as a species.

 

I’m not saying anything particularly new or revolutionary here, but the classics are classics for a reason, and just because a concept isn’t new or complex, doesn’t mean that we don’t need to be reminded to work on it (did I mention I don’t not love double negatives?). What will it take for you to be spurred into the action of seeing people as individuals this week, rather than just an amalgamation of their surface level traits? Hopefully it’ll be something silly or meaningless like this blog post or a douchey driver yelling at you, and it won’t take something more serious or intense for you to awaken from your prejudicial slumber. And hopefully with enough practice we won’t need these reminders at all, because we’ll just be living life as people among people, not statistics to be summed and totaled prior to any actual interaction.

 

…But in the meantime, eff Belgium, hooray USA! Set your alarm for 2018, the Yanks are coming for ya, World Cup!

 

Play on,
Dustin

 

 

*Before the World Cup started, I had expected/hoped that the USMNT would get a win, a draw, and a loss in the group stage, and either win or lose respectably to a good team in the first knockout match. All this happened, and we managed to convert a lot of US soccer supporters in the process — it was the first World Cup I can recall where even my non-sports friends knew what was going on more or less, and people were generally interested and excited about American futbol. Honestly I did not expect that, and so I’m even more stoked for 2018. I also thought our side performed well against some of the tougher opponents in the world, and while our weaknesses remained our weaknesses (glaring lack of offensive ability, painful inconsistency in quality of play, overall fitness and roster depth, etc.), we should that we are ready to compete with the proverbial big dogs, if not dominate. That said, it was still heartbreaking to lose in the fashion we did, with the promise and potential to do so much more. I believe Jürgen deserves a lot of the credit for getting us to where we were and a lot of the blame for our earlier-than-we-had-potential-for exit. Tim Howard deserved a win in that match, and we owed it to ourselves to win one for The Gipper in Goal, such as it were. Oh well, there’s always next year (…errr, four years from now).

 

**The basic layout was this: it was a four-way stop with two cars at the west end (me and the car in front of me) and two cars at the east end (one car and the A-holes in question behind him). There were no cars at the other sides of the intersection. The car in front of me arrived at the intersection first, then went straight, then the car across from him went straight, then I started to turn left, then the car across from me went straight (the douches), when they should’ve waited for me to turn left (since the right-of-way had passed back to me). Pretty straightforward, literally no idea how they misinterpreted the situation so badly.

 

***Speaking of stereotypes, it’s worth noting that this is the only time I’ve had an “altercation” (for lack of a better word) like this since I’ve lived in LA, I know Los Angeles sort of has this stigma of not being able to drive to your corner grocer without some maniac in an SUV threatening your life, but it’s really not like that. Usually.

 

ºIf your life has no unpleasantries, than by all means stop reading my blog and write a book on how you’re doing it and make a trillion dollars and continue to live out your amazing existence, you son of a bitch.

 

ººObviously in this instance I mean “arbitrary” in terms of being a valid criteria upon which to judge someone or something, not arbitrary in the sense of not having intrinsic value.

 

ºººIt should go without saying (but sadly, this is the internet, where someone out there will find a way to misunderstand everything) that I’m not comparing an afternoon’s annoyance with being disparaged as “Ohioan” with the countless millennia of legitimate and hateful prejudice that races, genders and other groups have had to endure, I’m merely trying to demonstrate that no one likes to be confined to one reductive trait about themselves, and that it is within all of us to empathize with the pain we’ve caused other people groups in our lives, even if we haven’t shared their experiences firsthand. I don’t need to be black to know that treating black men and women differently just because they’re black is hurtful and wrong, and I don’t need to be black to effect positive change around race relations (or acceptance of all sorts) in my own life and sphere. Duh.

 

 

…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox. Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagramyoutube (new videos every Monday), and my boring personal website. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.

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World Cup Confidential: Tiebreakers

With one of the tightest group standings in the entire 2014 World Cup, some of the more casual US soccer fans are fuzzy on what, exactly, the FIFA rules are if either the Ghana/Portugal and USA teams should end up with the same number of points after today’s matches.

 

For a refresher, here are the current standings for World Cup Group G (USA’s group):

current Group G standings as of 6/25/14

Current Group G standings as of 6/25/14

What does that mean? Well simply, if the US wins or draws against Germany, we advance to the Round of 16 and all is well.

 

However, if the US loses against Germany AND the Ghana/Portugal match does not end in a draw, then a series of tiebreakers will come into play, per FIFA regulations.

 

Here are the FIFA Tiebreaker Protocols, pulled verbatim from the FIFA regulations guide, in the order they will be implemented if necessary:

1) Total points earned through the course of group play. If that results in a tie, then:
2) Goal differential. If that ALSO results in a tie, then:
3) Total number of goals scored by each team. If that ALSO results in a tie, then:
4) Goal difference in games for each team. If that ALSO results in a tie, then:
5) Goals scored in games between the two tied teams. If that ALSO results in a tie, then:
6) Total goals scored without prancing around the pitch like some kind of douchebag. If that ALSO results in a tie, then:
7) Number of “balls” euphemisms made during the course of the tournament. If that ALSO results in a tie, then:
8) Overall attractiveness of team (including manager) on the traditional ten-point scale. If that ALSO results in a tie, then:
9) Total number of abs on a team. If that ALSO results in a tie, then:
10) Largest dollar amount paid to referees and/or FIFA executive board. If that ALSO results in a tie, then:
11) Overall number of Luis Suarez bites received during group play. If that ALSO results in a tie, then:
12) Number of times God thanked during players’ postgame speeches. If that ALSO results in a tie, then:
13) A round of “One two three NOT IT.” If that ALSO results in a tie, then:
14) An on-the-spot “who wore it better” between any two players from the involved teams who exchanged jerseys after a match. If that ALSO results in a tie, then:
15) Nose goes. If that ALSO results in a tie, then:
16) Number of Landon Donovans on team. If that ALSO results in a tie, then:
17) Number of World Wars won. If that ALSO results in a tie, then:
18) Best of three in Rock/Paper/Scissors. Okay well best of five. Wait I wasn’t ready, best of seven… If that ALSO results in a tie, then:
19) Total number of players on each team that are actually Amanda Bynes just dressed up like a man, secretly hoping to win the affections of one of her teammates. If that ALSO results in a tie, then:
20) …Ah f*** it, just flip a coin.

 

So there you have it…here’s hoping it doesn’t come to any of that. Come on you Yanks!

 

Play on,
Dustin

Artist rendering of what the US victory will look like tomorrow.

Artist rendering of what the US victory will look like tomorrow.

…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox. Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagramyoutube (new videos every Monday), and my boring personal website. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.

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All the Right Moves (Look Forward to Failure)

Maybe it’s because I took two full-power shots to the back of the head from close range while we were playing soccer, or maybe it’s because I’ve got World Cup Fever like a bad case of herpes (sidenote: is there any such thing as a “good” case of herpes? Like, a doctor says, “Well we thought you’d need a liver transplant, but it turns out that the herpes killed all the bacteria, so now you’re fine. What a good case of herpes!”), but today I was compelled to write about European fūtbol, AKA soccer.  Or as it’s known in America, “that show that comes on before coverage of baseball/tennis/golf starts.”

Continue reading

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Why I Like Soccer, and You Don’t

Before I start, let me point out several things I’m actively ignoring:
+baseball
+rent
+politics
+the fact that I haven’t blogged in several months
+the fact that I moved blog sites
+women who are under a 7.5 on the 10-point scale
+anyone who wears Ed Hardy apparel
+inclement weather

In the summer of ’06, two important things happened in my life: the first was I graduated college (on time, with Honors and a well-above average GPA…braggadocios, I know, but I spent far too much money and time on those things not to mention them at every opportunity), and the second was I started watching soccer seriously for the first time in years. In the first grade I played for my elementary school’s soccer team, but there wasn’t a lot of skill or knowledge required for that…I’m pretty sure the only prerequisites were legs.   Continue reading

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