Being only a nominal soccer fan (more than most Americans, though), but a fan of European and African soccer more than the Brazilian style I have 4 observations regarding the finale...
- When Sports Casters and writers discuss the worldwide phenomena of soccer and its lack of play in America vs. everywhere else, they all fail to discuss 19th and 20th Century colonialism's role in this. Soccer is the sport of Europe in general and England is particular. When you control 1/2 the world (not including Canada and the US), you control their gaming (I know, so why has India been about the only former British colony to embrace cricket- because it is cricket for goodness sake).
- While most Americans only look to recent history and did not appreciate the Eurocentric nature of the finals and were overwhelmingly against the French, I found myself rooting for them (although I could care less who won) in some fashion. I guess the fact that they played a major part in the Independence of our nation and the fact we fought a war together against Italy played some part.
- One thing that separates me from the normal sports fan and person in general is that, like my buddy Doug, I am not interested in the simple answers to most questions. For instance, when Ron Artest went after Detroit fans, I did not automatically think he was nuts. I thought, "what did those idiots do to deserve that." Similarly, when Zidane headbutted Materazzi, I did not (like every sports caster) jump to easy conclusions of mindloss. Guys of that stature do not just "lose their minds" with no cause. My initial reaction was, "what the heck did Materazzi say to him?" I have played sports enough to know the guy that gets caught usually is reacting (wrongly) to the other guy (I was usually the one causing trouble).
- Materazzi deserves an Oscar for his flop. Best ever (may have won them the title). That headbutt would not send a guy flying across the field like that. Thing of beauty. watch the loop here (I cmompare this move to Ben Wallace's destruction of the Inidanoplis Pacers through his push of Artest to initiate the Detroit melee- these guys deserve awards from the front office, since they are more important than most GMs).
- Lastly, although I was glad to see him the Cup MVP, I hope this moment of insanity by Zidane does not mark his career for all time. Too often a mistake or boneheaded move on the field is deemed unforgivable by the general public (think Kermit Washington, Bill Buckner, Ron Artest), while off the field issues can be forgotten quickly (think Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd, Scottie Pippen) as long as they perform. As usual Fox is doing its part to put the incident into context.