That Nature Show: The World Cup Brings Out the Animal Within

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Suarez gets muzzled.  Photo via The Independent.
Suarez gets muzzled. Photo via The Independent.

This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.

World Cup soccer players — and their fans — are everywhere. And exhibiting interesting animal behaviors, too. From which we can learn mostly what not to do.

Unless the rock you are living under is lead you’ve probably heard that Uruguay’s Luis Suarez is a biter. He bit an Italian.  I might also like to do that. To an Italian submarine sandwich. I would never bite a member of the Azzuri, which is what the Italian fans call their team, because they wear the most gorgeous blue uniform. Avanti Azzuri! is something I have frequently yelled in the privacy of my own home.

The “uniform” is known on the continent as a “kit.” A fan who dresses in team-colors and bling is called a “full kit wanker.” You’re welcome. Use it liberally, now that you have it.

I myself went Full Kit Wanker for the U.S. – Portugal game, which nearly gave me a heart attack. I threw my red pom poms to the floor and had a tantrum. “Freaking Cristiano Ronaldo. I hate his perfectly groomed eyebrows.” I only say things like this every four years. Likewise, “pitch,” “offsides,” “fancy footwork,” and “nice ball!”

The blogosphere Photoshopped Suarez in a shame collar like those reserved for your Labrador, and as Jaws. See here for the best of the memes. I’m not above having laffs over a game ruled by a conglomerate with billions of dollars in the bank and presided over by a guy with the villainous name Sepp Blatter. I’m talking about FIFA.

But some things are sacred: Tim Howard, the U.S. soccer team’s goalie, a role known on the continent as the “keeper.” Never was there such a manimal. Fix soot three. I mean, six foot three. See what happens to me in the presence of his beard? Tim Howard’s beard has a Twitter. The man’s a myth. He grabs the soccer ball out of thin vaporous air like he’s Gumby but with sticky pads on his hands like a he’s a tropical frog and then engulfs it like he’s an amoeba you studied in 7th grade science in a drop of pond water, but he does it so gracefully. He’s as elegant and graceful as a mother swan protecting her only and dearest egg.

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