"Football punditry is no doubt the most facile and inconsequential form of writing known to man," declares Tim Parks
in The New York Review of Books. "So," giggles Arts & Letters Daily
at the rest of the article, "why shouldn't the New York Review of Books try its hand at it?"
Having just declared soccer writing
"facile," Parks admits that he "read[s] it avidly. In one's eagerness
to remain within the emotional aura of a memorable game one laps up any
silliness." (Wire editorial aside: Say, this
for example.) Thus, continues Parks, "[t]he genius of football pundits
is to take the most recent result as a demonstration of absolute
reality. They know that the losing fans won't be reading about the
game--they want to forget--and that the winners want to feel that
victory was heroic, deserved, inevitable." That leads them to
overconfident predictions that a team that just won a decisive victory
will win another one: though pundits predicted Germany would handle
Spain easily after dispatching England and Argentina 4-1 and 4-0,
respectively, it turned out "[t]he Spanish were superior to an extent
one rarely sees in the final stages of a major competition."
it turns out, is not the main point of Parks's piece, which focuses
more on the general frustration of a rather ugly series of games.
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