The Real Show

I watched almost the entirety of the Argentina-Mexico match yesterday. Almost 90,000 people in attendance. I guess it was very loud there. The match itself was a nondescript struggle for the first half, but Lionel Messi broke the ice in the second half with a typically accurate worm burner to the lower right corner of the net, the goalie’s left. Messi’s side ended up winning 2-0 and kept hopes alive that he might get a chance to play for the one trophy he doesn’t yet have.

What was driven home yesterday, besides the other-worldly megastar status of Messi, is just how much time is wasted with the theatrics—fake injuries and dramatic writhing. It’s obviously part of a (sometimes) fast-paced, high-impact sport, but it’s still ridiculous and hard to watch.

I’m not sure if this is what people are considering when they call futbol the beautiful game, but it must be something the players work on in practice. I love the fact that we get to watch 45 minutes plus stoppage time of uninterrupted action with no commercial breaks. But the silly drama cheapens the product- it can be difficult to know when a player is actually hurt, when trainers and a stretcher on the pitch are for real or just part of the schtick.

Not only does one have to be a top notch athlete. They also have to have a flair for the dramatic. It gets hard to separate real effort from mere stage performance. Kudos to the ref, for having the patience and smarts to maintain an air of authenticity, and keeping it from turning into a WWF event.

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