July 10, 2014

Argentina 0, Holland 0 [PK: 4-2]: Well-played defensive battle, in which both teams played cautiously and where the stars (Messi, Higuain, van Persie, Robben, et al.) were mainly silent.  Which is to say, like a Ravens-Seahawks Super Bowl, or a Dodgers-Tigers World Series, it was dull for the non-partisan, but a feast for the connoisseur.  That it would be decided by penalty kicks was apparent before halftime.

Soccer fans spend too much time arguing with trolls about whether the frequency of scoreless draws and 1-0 results is a drawback for the sport, insofar as very little seems to be accomplished in terms of scoring, and to such little effect.  The fact is, people don't follow sports because of the activity is inherently exciting, or else ice hockey would have more American fans than baseball, or, for that matter, high-scoring, since the NBA Finals have much lower ratings than the Super Bowl.  People follow sports because they have an emotional interest in the outcome, not because a lot of points are going to get scored.  The higher ratings for the World Cup in the US have come about not because the USMNT has suddenly become a point-a-minute, offensive juggernaut, or a legit contender to win the whole thing, but because there is a gradual increase in public interest in how well the US does in the tournament.  And even after the US was eliminated, the ratings remain strong, showing that it's the competition itself that Americans are following.  Once you care who wins, the scoreline becomes irrelevant.

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