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Nil, Nil

The nihilism of soccer: The more you look, the less there is to see.

12:00 AM, Jun 23, 2006 • By FRANK CANNON and RICHARD LESSNER
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But soccer players use their heads, deliberately, to contact the ball. This is contrary to all human instinct, which is to keep the head out of the way of danger. Duck, you idiot! Protecting the head against injury is deeply rooted in our nature. It's an evolutionary survival response. Sacrifice a limb if you must, give up an arm or leg, but protect your head at all costs. Yet in soccer the player is encouraged, no, expected to hit the ball with his head. This is as stupid an action as a human being can undertake.

Secondly, any game which prohibits the use of the hands is contrary to nature. Opposable thumbs allow humans to grasp things (thumbs on other primate hands such as chimps and orangutans are splayed out the side and are not truly opposable.) This is why the games human beings play involve holding things such as baseball bats, golf clubs and hockey sticks, or to grip and throw objects like a ball or a Frisbee.

Soccer denies its players this most basic human ability. Players cannot catch or throw the ball. But they can hit it with their heads. If one were to set out to invent a game fundamentally at odds with human nature, soccer would be it. Place the head with its big brain in constant danger, and prohibit the use of the hands. Soccer denies to its players the very attributes that make human beings, the thinking toolmaker, human.

Actually, the donkey would have a significant advantage over humans in soccer. It has four legs rather than two. The donkey has no hands or opposable thumbs, nor any need of them in order to play soccer. And smashing its head into a soccer ball probably would not cause any diminution of equine IQ. Soccer, then, would appear to be a game better suited to dim-witted quadrupeds than to human beings.

Frank Cannon and Richard Lessner, consultants with Capital City Partners, have spent most of the World Cup watching ESPN re-runs of the world's strongest man contest.