I don’t understand this brouhaha about the World Cup. Some people are protesting that the amount they have to pay to view the games on TV is too exorbitant. So they threatened to boycott it. I really don’t know how this works, this boycotting thing. It sounds silly because this is after all a free economy. If you do not want to pay the subscription fee, then don’t. It’s your money and you can do whatever you want with it. Like giving it to the poor. I am poor. Choose me. But don’t make an issue out of it as if you are forced at gunpoint to subscribe. No one is forcing you. Perhaps the only thing that is compelling you to subscribe is that you are suffering from World Cup fever. And the only cure is for you to stay awake late at night to watch teams from countries that you have mostly never been to, or heard of, so that you can come to work the very next morning and ask your colleague: `Did you watch the game last night?’ Admit it. You just want to be identified as a member of the `in’ crowd. If that is how you feel, then pay!
But let me tell you something. There is no such thing as a World Cup fever. There is however something called marketing hype that whips you into a state of frenzy thus making you succumb to the irresistible need to be a part of the event. It is the same thing that causes people living in the tropics to watch with temporary interest bobsleighing or mountain skiing at the Winter Olympic Games. Can you remember who won the gold medal in the 5000m slalom in Sochi?
I will not be watching the World Cup. For one, I can’t afford the subscription fee. I am poor. I have told you so. Secondly and most importantly, I find the World Cup boring. If you remove the hype and hyperbole surrounding the event, you will see that the matches are defensive, too safe, slow and predictable. When was the last time there was a winning margin of three goals? And the thing that irks me most is when I see grown men falling to the ground at the slightest touch, writhing in pain as if they have been hit by a cannonball.
Now if you want excitement, go watch the Lionsxii play in the Malaysian Super League. The beauty lies in its unpredictability. When you think that they are going to score, they don’t. When you think that the ball is going to be saved, it doesn’t. They can’t pass, can’t dribble, can’t shoot, can’t head, can’t stop and you wonder why they bother playing at all. And therein lies the excitement because despite all that, when they do score, you will feel exhilarated. Surprised. Who doesn’t like surprises? And most of the time while watching them play, you will pull at your hair, curse, shout obscenities, wonder out loud if they have been `bought’, call the referee names that in other circumstances might get you sued for slander. By the end of the match, you will feel contented, relaxed because you have relieved your stress. Nothing is more fulfilling than calling a group of burly young men idiots and getting away with it.
So forget the World Cup. Be seduced by the Lionsxii. It might not be pretty to watch but it makes you feel good. And it doesn’t cost a bomb.
*Ben Afflicted is our resident madman. He seldom goes out of his house because he thinks that the nine-year old girl living next door is a CIA agent.