Soccer and Zidane  JUN 22 2004

Overcome by a hankering for soccer**, I tuned into the France v. Switzerland match last night. I don't often watch soccer -- usually only around World Cup time -- but I enjoy it when I do. It's just so hard to find it here on TV...although with TiVo, that's not much of an excuse.

Anyway, there's something about that Zidane, isn't there? Great players on Zidane's level usually make other players look slow, weak, or dimwitted in comparison. Michael Jordan certainly did so, as did Barry Sanders in the NFL, Steffi Graf in tennis, and Wayne Gretzky in hockey. In this case, it's Zidane that appears a step slow. Of course, he's not slow at all...he's just smooth. Very very smooth. He lopes along with the ball, hardly showing any effort, defenders swiftly converging on him from all sides, seemingly screwed, and somehow he pops into the clear and effortlessly flips a pass to a streaking teammate. He looks almost lazy out there. I replayed several of his plays last night, trying to see exactly how he does it, an ultimately futile exercise. Great fun to watch though.

** I'd call it football, but then you'd think I was being pretentious (or anglophilic). But that's what much of the rest of the world calls it. I just wanna do the right thing here. Non-North Americans, just pretend I called it football, ok?

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