A lot of my action-watching retardation comes from a lack of participation in sports as a kid. Being a bottle-cap glasses-wearing geek, I was useless at sports involving balls coming at me. I would invariably miscalculate the spot at which the ball would land, and swish at the air frantically. I'm sure it was the huge refraction caused by the bottle caps, but even with later contacts, I was never able to catch up with my peers. I stuck with non-ball activities such as cheerleading and goofing off.
Where was I? Right - it seems that experience in playing a sport helps one to watch it later on. I enjoy football, and I've gotten much better at watching the plays evolve, but I'll never match Drew's ability to watch the entire field and predict the outcome of a play long before it is over, as well as catching all the holding, blatant cruelty and other hijinks that non-players like me never catch.
The same holds true for track racing (cycling, not running, you rubes). I'm getting much better at spotting the hooks, chops and other mischief involved in a good, brutal sprint. But I'll never be able to watch it at the same level as those who have participated in it. Again, Drew must explain some of the stuff I miss.
Soccer wasn't a big sport when I was growing up. Not that I would have enjoyed it enough to pursue it. The few times we played it in gym class, I developed a serious disinclination to having my shins kicked. We ventured into Portland a few times to watch the first (NASL) Timbers play when we were in high school, and that was fun, mostly because it was a night out in the city for a group of young hicks. I doubt that we paid much attention to the game.
Now that the Timbers are back and Dean has attempted to bring me up to speed regarding both the Timbers and European futbol competition, I have been trying to watch fast enough to keep up. It's easier on TV with the magic of instant replay to understand stuff like offsides calls, and to catch the sneakier fouls and more dramatic dives, but at the ball park (or the pitch, as you cricketty types might say), I am left two steps behind.
I like soccer. I like the mass drunken singing, the fast pace, the small crowds compared to football, and the cozy atmosphere of PGE Park. I just need to see more games to develop faster eyes. Mine tend to drift around aimlessly until I miss something important.
Saturday night was perfect for soccer. Perfect weather. Fun friends. Alcohol. Cracker Jack (you really should try a little Cracker Jack with your Pinot Grigio). Easy hypothetical access to the field if you were inclined to practice a little streaking.
And the capper: a win over an English team. Sweet.