I tried. I really, really tried.
I read about the players. I checked the schedules and brackets. I cheered for the home team.
But no matter how hard I tried, I could not make myself love the World Cup. Don’t get me wrong, I watched it and I certainly enjoyed the final shootout, but I did not love it.
I analyzed my feelings and came to the conclusion that it all comes down to degrees of enjoyment. How much did I want to watch the games and how much did I want to do something else. For example, would I rather play golf or watch the World Cup? No contest, golf wins. Would I rather watch my 12-year-old son play basketball or tune in to soccer? Again, not even a slight hesitation.
On the other hand, when my wife asked me to weed the planters out front and finish trimming the bushes out back, I suddenly felt the urge to check on Ronaldo. My interest in the World Cup was renewed. Hmmm, wash the car or watch the game? Game on, baby. Attend a neighbor’s baby shower? Honey, please, you know I need to watch the World Cup so I can talk intelligently about it on my radio show.
Then there were the tough decisions. Work out or watch? OK, I could do both. Go to dinner with friends at a restaurant I dislike? TiVo to the rescue. Yes, in the end, I found the perfect solution. I would TiVo the games just in case there was some great controversy or spectacular, never-before-seen shot on goal. Notice I didn’t say goal. In soccer, fans seem to derive as much pleasure from shots as they do from actual goals. I guess you have to find something to get excited about when there may be only one actual score in 90 minutes.
Well, I zipped right through my TiVo’d games with barely a pause. I did, however, replay the vicious head-butt delivered by Zinedine Zidane several times. I found, though, that watching a recap of the games on ESPN was plenty for me. Nothing like compressing 90 minutes of action, or lack thereof, into a 30-second segment. Perfect.
I was disappointed that the United States didn’t get past the first round. I know I would have been more likely to watch had we stayed in the tournament. Of course, it still would have boiled down to the degree of enjoyment. The World Cup was better than broccoli, but not nearly as good as Breyer’s cherry vanilla ice cream. And I most definitely won’t be marking my calendar or planning my vacation around the next one in 2010.
Former Warriors star and Hall of Famer Rick Barry hosts the noon-3 p.m. talk show on KNBR (680 AM). E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.