It was close to 70 minutes into the match and I had to go to the bathroom. Badly.
As fans watching the World Cup know too well, bathroom breaks are a serious dilemma, especially for those who don’t have a TV in the loo. This biological necessity is exasperated by beer, which during World Cup matches also fuels a strong propensity to throw chairs and instigate riots.
And while I wasn’t worried about hurling furniture in my house, I was worried that by taking a quick break and grabbing another beverage, I would miss a goal, or at least something approximating excitement.
You see, an intriguing aspect of “the beautiful” game is the continuum of play. There are no timeouts. There are no significant breaks in the game. There are no commercials. The clocks starts at zero and ticks its way relentlessly to 90 minutes and often beyond to mysteriously make up for the time outs that were never called in the first place.
And if the game is tied, more time is added until the referee finally blows a whistle signifying, with any luck at all, that the game is over and we can all mercifully go to the bathroom. Unless of course the match is not really over, in which case the two teams enter into a best of five penalty kick shootout until one team succombs. Unless of course they still remain tied, in which case the shootout to the death continues until one goalie is left standing.
And then, depending on your nationality and the results, you go out on the street and light cars on fire.
To be fair, the World Cup is a lot more exciting to watch than baseball, where games are decided in eventual death, meaning that theoretically games can continue until the players die of old age.
But at least in baseball, fans have the opportunity to take a bathroom break and maybe even celebrate a birthday between pitches.
With an average of about 2.75 goals scored per World Cup match spread over 90 plus minutes of play, we can expect a goal roughly every 30 minutes. Even without play stops, that should be plenty of time to answer nature’s call without missing any overdue action.
You would think.
I made a calculated decision. The team in red was up 2 goals to 0 over the team in blue. There was about twenty minutes left to play. I knew statistically there were only .75 goals left to score, ensuring a likely victory for whoever was wearing red. I also knew that I really didn’t care who won. So I left the illumination of my flat screen TV and ran to the room at the end of the hall.
Then I grabbed another beer and made myself a quick sandwich.
When I returned the score was tied 2 to 2 and the announcer was on the wailing end of a high pitched Gooooooaaaaaallllllll.
I had been gone about four minutes.
And this is why if you are invested in the World Cup for sports adrenaline, going to the bathroom is such a dilemma.
But as you can probably tell, as much as I enjoy drinking beer and watching the World Cup, I don’t have much emotional interest in the tournament this year.
This is because the US didn’t make the cut and the World Cup is being held in Russia. I can only assume that Putin is meddling with the results.
What am I supposed to think when for the first time in World Cup history game changing plays are being reviewed on video by FIFA officials located in a booth somewhere in Moscow?
How were those officials elected?
Is it any accident that the Russian team, ranked 70th in the world, has miraculously made its way to the Quarter Finals?
And why was Tom Brady spotted handing soccer balls to referees on the field as reported by the fake news media?
I’m just saying, something seems rotten in Denmark. They lost their match too. In a sudden death shootout.
On the flip side, I suppose if the World Cup were being held in the US, teams from Iran and Somalia would not even be allowed to enter the country and players from Mexico would be benched in a caged detention center somewhere in Texas.
Still, none of this silly speculation has dampened the diversion watching world class teams play world class soccer. Even if I don’t care who wins.
Besides, there is another soccer team I am rooting for. A team that is not in the World Cup finals. A team of kids trapped deep in a flooded cave in Thailand. A team potentially engaged in a sudden death ending with no timeouts.
It kind of puts “the beautiful game” dilemma in perspective.