Tag Archives: Vuvuzela

Calm Your Caxirolas: It’s the World Cup!
We do our best to explain earth's quadrennial vuvuzela fixation.

Every four years there is an earth-wide contest to see who are the most obnoxious soccer fans in the universe, during which some games are also played. This is the FIFA World Cup, which, to many Americans, has all the excitement of wondering whether or not you remembered to use that $5 off coupon at your last oil change, but to the rest of the world, is like the Super Bowl and the World Series had a baby, and it descended to earth wrapped in a fiery rainbow and wearing golden shin guards, and then it kicked a black and white ball around on the grass for two hours while every human on earth went absolutely bananas. Which is to say that I don’t think there’s an analogy for the excitement the World Cup has for the rest of the world that an American would understand, but you should know a little bit about it in case your boss is from Uruguay and decides to have mandatory conference room game discussions about Fernando Muslera‘s dismal performance at the Copa América, instead of going over last month’s dismal sales results.

[feature_headline type=”left” level=”h6″ looks_like=”h6″ icon=”asterisk”]You might also like “Blood, Sweat, and Gears (the Tour de France)”[/feature_headline]

Yeah, but what if the Gorn had a vuvuzela?

[x_pullquote type=”right”]If a game in America were to end in a tie, fans would just wander, zombie-like, out of their favorite sports bar, not speaking, wondering why they just spent twenty dollars on some mediocre hot wings…[/x_pullquote]The World Cup has a few rules and regulations that may seem strange to many Americans, one of which is the allowance for a tie game. As much as Americans now seem to want each of their amateur athletes to get a medal, trophy, new car and a college scholarship just for being able to not tie their cleats together, they also equally abhor anything in their professional sports that even comes close to a tie, draw or stalemate. There must be a winner, or there won’t be a good enough reason for rioting and looting after your favorite sporting team wins their respective world championship; I mean, those cars aren’t going to just overturn and burn themselves. If a game in America were to end in a tie, fans would just wander, zombie-like, out of their favorite sports bar, not speaking, wondering why they just spent twenty dollars on some mediocre hot wings when they didn’t even get the chance to celebrate their world-shattering win or gripe about their sucky team. However, if a World Cup game remains tied after 90 minutes of regulation play and 30 minutes of overtime, then each team chooses their strongest champion and they fight to the death in the center of the field using only objects they can find around them, such as diamonds, sulfur, saltpeter, or — no, wait; sorry, that was that episode in Star Trek with the Gorn. To be accurate, only games in the initial round can end in a tie; championship games obviously have to have a winner, so they do penalty kicks until someone gets a goal, or the stadium collapses under the sheer weight of unbearable suspense and vuvuzela spit.

Funyuns and Caxirolas

You’ll also get no chance for a bathroom break during the game, as there are no timeouts or commercial breaks in World Cup soccer — er, football. This concept is enough to make a corporate American ad agency’s collective head pop off and $100 bills spout out of it, as commercials are the lifeblood of American televised sports. You’ll just have to wait until halftime comes before you can get your Funyuns and Baja Blast Mountain Dew and go potty. Each World Cup also has its own mascot, logo, slogan, even musical instrument. When Brazil hosted their World Cup in 2014, they created the “caxirola” a percussion instrument that looked like an amputated avocado with hives and a handle. Although designed to be more friendly and much less noisy than a vuvuzela, the caxirola was ironically not allowed into games because, in a preliminary match between two Salvadoran teams, fans used them to pelt opposing players. Yay, sports!

So next time you’re complaining that your favorite sporting activity is too violent, or it’s fans aren’t violent enough, just remember it’s only a few short years until you can enjoy some real sporting activity at the next World Cup in Russia, where hopefully the official musical instrument will not be a sawed-off balalaika.

[feature_headline type=”left” level=”h6″ looks_like=”h6″ icon=”book”]This column is featured in the book Sports Survival Guide for Men[/feature_headline]

3 Tips to Understanding International Sports (If You’re a Clueless American)
How to tell your cricket bat from your vuvuzela.

If you’ve ever visited a foreign country, you’ve probably wondered why airlines use such terrible food to get you there. In addition, you may also have to encounter a sporting event with which you are unfamiliar, but which the locals seem to love with all their hearts, to the degree that they will beat each other with vuvuzelas to prove it. But you need not feel like a total tourist-infected rube if you let us help you understand how to relate to the world of International Sports.


International Sports Are Not All Weird

[su_pullquote align=”right”]In the USA, we prefer our sports to be time-honored and traditional, as is found in typical American sports such as baseball, lawn-mower racing, or Wall of Death Lion Racing.[/pullquote]Your first challenge, if you are an American, is that sports in other countries are bizarre. In the USA, we prefer our sports to be time-honored and traditional, as is found in typical American sports such as baseball, lawn-mower racing, or Wall of Death Lion Racing. Most Americans assume sports in other countries are played with only your feet and a disturbing lack of extra equipment to help you be a “champion” and stay “on top of your game” and “spend stupid amounts of money.” However, we must understand that any sport is worthy of respect, given the fact that they’re all pretty much kind of weird when you think about it. For example, consider the poor alien culture trying to decipher why, if we want the little white ball to go in the hole, we just don’t make the hole a lot bigger and the grassy area smaller; or why that guy with the pole in the boat can’t figure out what genus of ichthyosaur will finally satisfy his strange, unmet need; and why those guys going around the track in their primitive combustible transport vehicles go so fast when all they do is end up where they started.


Learn The Local Language Idioms

There also is the challenge of “regionalitiveness”, a new word we made up just now that we intend to own the patent to in case it becomes popular. A sport with the same name in one country can have a different style of play, or even be a totally different sport than in another country. In England, “soccer”, as we Americans know it, is called “football”, and American “football”, as the English know it, is called “A Session of Parliament”. Australia has their own “Australian Rules Football“, which we assume has something to do with kicking a wallaby down a field of poisonous snakes while simultaneously trying to avoid being eaten by land-walking sharks.


Learn Some Sample Phrases

And all of this is even before a particular sporting event has begun. To actually understand the game you may need a translation guide. Here are actual phrases you can hear in commentary on the sport of cricket, provided you are awake long enough to hear them:
“A leg stump half volley”
“It’s holed out down at long leg”
“Uh oh! There goes another malted herring up the batsman’s googly!”
Ok, we made that last one up, but I bet you couldn’t easily tell it from the others. And American sports are not much better, as you can see when your mother-in-law keeps interrupting the Super Bowl to ask, usually at crucial moments, why they have to wear such tight pants.


Three Final Tips

Here are three bonus tips to help you when dealing with an unfamiliar international sport.

  1. Always pretend you don’t understand the language of the current country you are confounded by. That way, when a local asks you if you prefer the Torino Ultra Maroons or the Fiorentina Super Lilies, you can respond with a ready phrase, such as Sono un americano muto che è ancora in attesa per noi di adottare il sistema metrico. Ti piacciono i Packers? (“I am a dumb American who is still waiting for us to adopt the metric system. Do you like the Packers?”)
  2. If you are in a country that speaks the same language as you, such as an American in England, you will probably still be okay, as most of the teams will be named something like “The Biggleswade-South Puttdonkey Copsewood United Exeter Roving Wanderers”, or “Cockfosters“, in which case, you will be doubled over in laughter and unable to respond anyway.
  3. If either of these methods fails, you are probably already at the event, possibly unwittingly, wondering why there are so many angry bulls running loose around you, some of them with cricket bats. At this stage, your best bet is to start a fight and hope that the local police will take you a safe distance from the event, where you can whisper that you are part of a secret CIA operation with the code name “Viper”, in hopes they will take you the American consulate, where they may have the Cubs game on TV. At least, that’s how it works in the movies.

With this information in hand, you should be well on your way to tolerating, if not understanding, and possibly still being incredibly bored by, any unfamiliar international sport. Now, excuse us as we get ready for an onslaught of vuvuzela beatings.
[feature_headline type=”left” level=”h6″ looks_like=”h6″ icon=”book”]This column is featured in the book Dubious Knowledge (Book One)[/feature_headline]

Photo Credit: twicepix