I haven't followed any team sports since my teens, when I decided I was a Washington Redskins fan. American football appealed to my wargaming nerd heart, and was only shown on Channel Four, whose other stable output was bizarre European sub-pornographic movies with barely there subtitles and clothes. Subtitles will make you go blind. Or something.
A combination of things turned me away from the spectacle of American football. For one thing, most of the live matches were broadcast at four o'clock in the morning here, and I had to get up for school. For another, it became apparent that American footballers are a bunch of girls who have to wear body armour to play rugby.
I've not followed team sports since. I will actually watch a rugby match if it's on and I suppose I watch Formula One from time to time, though the team work there is often as unifying as a Borgia family get-together, but in general I prefer sports where one person is pitted against another or the field. Tennis, gymnastics and, until recently, mixed martial arts. I'm still , in theory, a fan of MMA, but recent shenanigans have soured the sport for me, and top level competition is eye-bleedingly dull . When they introduce a K1-esque action rule, or the Pride yellow card system, I may be back.
So why am I enjoying the World Cup?
England is getting humiliated.
There has never been a rational reason to follow a Premier League football club. In the twenties, the local club may well have been composed of local people who worked in the local mill and drank in the local pub, but in the modern game everything is changeable. The players aren't local, and are little better than mercenaries for hire, with millionaire lifestyles and a sense of decorum that hasn't been seen since the fall of the Roman Empire.
Seeing these cosseted tycoons embarrassed by equally talented, but hungrier and leaner teams has been quite entertaining. I don't particularly care who wins when Australia is pitted against Japan - the gladiatorial equivalent of matching a kitten against a lamb - but when England, France and Germany, preening European decadents one and all, are getting beaten or held to a draw by "lesser" nations, it's quite satisfying.
I'm even prepared to sit through 90+ minutes of a game, and endure the sorry sight of grown men falling over and begging for attention from mommy, I mean the referee, when two players stray within a few feet of each other. Seriously, people watch this sport without irony? I pity the fools.
There's a popular New Zealand t-shirt - "I don't care who wins, so long as Australia loses".
With the World Cup I don't care who wins, so long as it's nobody I've ever heard of.
Is Cameroon in it this year?