Fifty post-World Cup observations
JOHANNESBURG -- It made perfect sense that
It remains to be seen whether it was a wise gambit, in some regards, for a developing country to spend more than $5 billion on a sporting event. "This has been a wonderful World Cup," said archbishop emeritus
This World Cup, however, also had its lighter moments. To that end, below find 50 observations, musings, lessons and memories that will be taken away from a month the likes of which the international sporting community has never before experienced, and might never again:
1. How successful was the South African security effort during this tournament? So successful that the top six most serious criminal acts against foreigners were all committed by the Netherlands'
2. You know that spray that they use on players after they've been apparently irreversibly maimed, after which they immediately return to the picture of health? Have they tried that on hospital-bound patients yet?
3. From now on when I'm in the market for a box in which to carry my trophies, it will be a Louis Vuitton one. See? Sponsorships work.
4. Six commercial flights scheduled to arrive at Durban's King Shaka International Airport just before the semifinal between Spain and Germany were unable to land because preference was given to private jets carrying "VIPs" such as
5. The early concessions queues issues seemed to be resolved as the Cup went on. However, those fans who waited in line for 45 minutes during the Uruguay/France match for the opportunity to purchase a $3 Halaal beef dog -- thereby missing exactly half of the first World Cup game ever played in Cape Town -- probably wish they had taken a moment to reprioritize.
6. An American reporter who approaches Chinese actors who are pretending to be North Korean soccer fans, and who probably don't speak English anyway, and asks them for an interview probably won't have much luck.
7. This just in, from the Dear Leader: North Korea never actually competed in the 2010 World Cup. Check the North Korean history books.
8. A human being can become accustomed to almost anything. Even vuvuzelas.
9. You really should read
10. After listening to the entirety of the Uruguayan national anthem, you will have trouble remembering a time when you were doing something other than listening to the Uruguayan national anthem.
11. If you have forgotten to bring either a beach ball or balloon to a game for the crowd to bat around, one of the free condoms they distribute in the bathroom, inflated and tied off, will work just fine.
12. If you were to have gone to the All-Star "Bafunny Bafunny" show, which featured six of South Africa's top stand-up comedians, you would have received an education as to the hilarious differences between Xhosa people and Zulu people, and you would have learned how much South African comedians love the names "Messi" and "Kaka." The joke of the night might have belonged to
13. The comedians, and the audience, also made clear how terrifying a young South African politician named
14. This is not particularly new, but this World Cup again proved that the difference between the great teams and the very good teams is their ability to finish at the goal, and to defend. A lot of teams look similar when the ball's at midfield.
15. The U.S. is a very good team.
16. The most underrated aspect of the U.S.' stoppage-time goal against Algeria was
17. The U.S., and
18. Even though he didn't score a goal, Altidore
19. The U.S. still needs a nickname better than "United States Men's National Team" (USMNT). Suggestions here ranged from formalizing "The Yanks" or "The Stars and Stripes," to adopting the name of the official fan club ("Sam's Army"), to something entirely new like "The Screaming Eagles" or "The Gents" or "The White Stars" (an obvious "no" on the last one).
20. Two weeks after the U.S. lost its Round of 16 match against Ghana, foreigners are still stopping Americans on the street here to congratulate them on the way the team played. The goodwill engendered by the U.S.'s yeoman-like effort will last for a long, long time.
21. Despite his curious personnel decisions,
24. Best uniforms? Argentina's home kit, as ever. Worst? I guess Slovenia's
25. The U.S. uniform wasn't bad, if a bit milquetoast. Almost made one long for the
26. I can't wait for the reality show about
27. Ronaldo's son has an American mother. Is it too early to start thinking about his role on the USMNT in the 2032 World Cup in Pyongyang?
28. Even though Cameroon lost all three of its matches,
29. Hey, European or South American guy who has just been kicked in the shin, and is rolling around on the ground in what appears to be a state of unimaginable agony? Everyone knows you're wearing shinguards.
30. When a South African says something will occur "just now," he or she means that there is at least some possibility that it will occur at some point in the foreseeable future.
31. Here is my 23-man all-Tournament team:
33. That Messi took 30 shots in this tournament without scoring is even weirder.
34. Forlan was the most impressive and most valuable player in the tournament -- and FIFA actually did something right by awarding him the Golden Ball, even though he
35. Messi remains the best player in the world.
36. Some readers will continue to disagree with me, but I maintain that
37. I wonder what William Hill's pre-tournament odds were that an octopus would not only outperform but also garner more buzz than
38. The life span of the common octopus is one to two years. Pulpo Paul was hatched in January 2008, so his keepers might want to think about getting his picks for 2014 pretty much now.
39. When you are a soccer player, and your girlfriend is both a) a television journalist and b) committed to her own journalistic integrity, be careful when you agree to a
40. Of the two main 2010 World Cup songs,
41. The metaphor of the tournament has to go to
42. South African newspapers can also get rather creative with their
45. Why aren't fans allowed, and never try, to keep balls that are kicked into the stands. Is FIFA really that cash-strapped? And can't someone pull the "That's not a ball under my shirt, I'm actually pregnant" trick?
46. It might have been boring to some, but the most technically exquisite game played during the Cup was the 1-0 semifinal between Spain and Germany.
47. South Africa spent more than $5 billion on this tournament. One would have thought it could have set a little aside for stadium TV screens larger than those typically found in college dorm rooms (Shakira appeared to be roughly 2-foot-6 when she performed on Sunday night) or on, you know, in-stadium clocks.
48. That the 92-year-old
49. Is there any chance your local Halloween superstore stocks
50. Germany's winning this thing in 2014 in Brazil. Ask Pulpo Paul, if he's still with us.