Maybe Pump The Brakes On Deifying Soccer Dudes
Any time some soccer player scores an important goal (in this case Lionel Messi), my Twitter timeline fills otherwise rational people falling over themselves to declare a 5'7" soccer player the best humankind has to offer:
The trend spreads even beyond heat-of-the-moment tweets. Game recaps are devoted to "god-like" and "magical" performances, proclaiming Messi a "genius who operates to a different set of physical rules." (That's a headline, by the way.)
At the risk of sounding like the curmudgeonly Michael Wilbon, can we relax for a bit?
If a basketball player pulls off the equivalent (which happens quite often), the feat itself is described appropriately, but we stop short of bowing at the altar of the performer. Blake Griffin and Odell Beckham, Jr.—breathtaking athletes in their own right—are unlikely to be hailed as something beyond mortal.
The easy dartboard here is the stereotype of the American soccer fan. Ever-defensive and fiercely loyal to a game most of us only pay mild attention to during the World Cup, they're tagged with a label of arrogance.
For them, watching football is an otherworldly experience on which you are missing out. They understand fútbol on a higher level, and if you don't agree with their assessments then you simply "don't get it."
The thing is, we do get it. Stephen Curry did something similar the other day, and it was pretty cool. But with soccer we must bow down to our Argentine overlord, for he is the Greatest To Ever Play The Game.
So maybe that isn't the reason. Perhaps it's a European thing—a unique reverence for "the beautiful game." Whatever the case, let's pump the brakes on how describe the sport's best players. Maybe then each goal celebration won't resemble the last few minutes of Return of the Jedi.