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Interview: CBC Book Club

June 30, 2010

I’m riffing on soccer and books over at the CBC Book Club today. Thanks to Hannah Sung for asking me to be part of their World Cup celebration. I played amateur soccer for years, and spent many more watching the game on television. I’ve tried to steer clear of this particular World Cup, in part because it’s on in the middle of the day and I’d get nothing done if I tried to follow it all. That said, I still check my scores at night and watch the highlight reels. It’s just a great sport, and while I’m no expert, I did enjoy answering some questions and offering a few sports book titles to the club.

Q.: What do you like best — reading about, playing or watching soccer?

A.: I haven’t really played soccer in almost 20 years, owing in part to the many years before that when I played left half and had to trot the length of the field every day, which eventually blew out my knees. But what I do remember enjoying in the sport was the “click” of a good play. It’s the same thing I enjoy watching soccer on TV. Momentum in footy can appear a bit like a riptide: the sea and the shore pounding against one another seem relatively stable with a little give-and-take until you’re suddenly sucked out to sea. I like plays that seem to materialize out of nowhere, like a current beneath the apparent surf, or an unexpected chess gambit. Everyone is mid-field and mucking about and then suddenly the stands are on their feet as the pieces shift and the momentum changes. It’s magical. I even saw this last night, watching my son, aged seven, play. One minute the game is at an impasse and then someone takes an unexpected pass and breaks away and all the parents are jumping and cheering. Of course, with seven-year-olds, there’s a whole lot more shin-kicking involved…

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