Oh he’s on the list.
Photo: Buda Mendes (Getty Images)

Because it’s the most popular sport in the world and because the entire world is currently losing its collective shit about it, there is something forbidding about approaching soccer from the outside. There are many millions of people around the world who are so passionate about club teams that they are never more than a second away from committing felony assault, and for the most part I do not even know these teams’ names. There are roughly an equal number of otherwise ordinary people whose roiling anxieties are burning hot holes through their stomach linings because of various World Cup-related things that I am in no way equipped even to notice. They agonize and analyze and live and die and I mostly top out at “man, you have got to kick it better than that.” If you are a Soccer Oaf like me, the extent to which you are out of your depth can make the very idea of engaging with the World Cup seem daunting.

My message to you, from one Soccer Oaf to another, is this: Relax. Most people on earth don’t know anything about anything at all, and not being a soccer expert does not mean that you can’t enjoy watching the same soccer games that everyone else is watching. This doesn’t mean that you should pretend to be an expert, of course, but there’s no written test required of people that want to watch a soccer game on television. Those of us in the Soccer Oaf Community may not know all the “words” to “describe” the “incidents occurring during the games,” but lord knows we can sure watch those things happen and enjoy that experience, even without the assistance of drugs or alcohol. Here, for instance, are the things that I, a true and lifelong Soccer Oaf, have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy about the 2018 World Cup:

  • When one of the lads gives the ball a good crisp bonk with his head or uses their head to kind of redirect the ball in the right direction. I propose that we call this a bink.
  • When the goalie just booms it three-quarters of the way down the field.
  • When a player tries to kick one in and instead they just boom it wildly into the seats instead.
  • Romelu Lukaku being all diesel and fast and smaller dudes just bouncing off of him.
  • When a speedy player outruns a less speedy player in a race for the ball.
  • The way that every team has at least one dude with a middle part and a headband.
  • Profoundly exhausted soccer players making dramatic faces in extremely slow motion.
  • When the Japanese player kicked the ball so hard that it somehow didn’t spin.
  • When one guy does a fancy dribble and fakes another out of his shoes.
  • When a dude somehow kicks the ball off the bottom of his foot.

That’s all I can think of for now, but I encourage you never to let your idiocy get in the way of enjoying yourself.