There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?

I had really lousy fish and chips this afternoon. Just, not terribly good at all. Really substandard. I sort of had a bad vibe about the place as soon as I walked in, and next time, I'll know to about-face and high-tail it. But, the guy already said "hi!" like he was thrilled to see me - which he undoubtedly was, because I don't see this guy getting a bunch of repeat customers. So I didn't want to hurt his feelings just on the basis of a vibe. But I should have. Usually it's the French fries, or "chips," portion of the fish and chips that is more substandard, but in this case, the fries were okay. Nothing pepper and Tapatio couldn't cure. The fish, on the other hand. The thing was a perfect rectangle with breading, and that was definitely the time I should have ran for safety. Ain't no square fish swimming around anywhere, even downstream from Chernobyl. Just a greasy, unpleasant mess of a lunch, and you know what, IT'S STILL MORE INTERESTING THAN THE US WORLD CUP JERSEY.

Ooh, secret sash. Whee.

At least the blue one is awesome.

White with an off-white sash. I'd rather see them wear the eight empty plastic bottles. Without a doubt, the most boring jersey we'll see in the World Cup this whoops, spoke too soon. Boy, when Nike phones it in, they use speed-dial.

So last night Landon Donovan was on a sports talk radio show (a little over halfway through this clip), and - well, if you like mainstream sports talk radio, then it's the sort of thing you'll like. Landon denies looking ahead to the World Cup, something that is borne out by his assist total, contradicted by his goal total. Odds are you, true blue soccer fan, will learn very little from this. That's not what I wanted to talk about.

The next hour - it's not on the podcast link - the host, Tony Bruno, took some calls. And one went along the lines of "Franck Ribery should check into the same clinic as Tiger Woods." Only it was more like "Y'know, Franck Ribery, uh, he should, um, check into the same clinic as, uh, Tiger Woods!"

And at that moment I had a golden, shining vision of our future. Soon, every American soccer fan will sound like that. The more popular American soccer gets, the dumber we all become. I don't think it's simply that calling up a sports talk show diminishes your IQ by fifty points per call. I think we're in the middle of a social experiment that has been developing for decades.

The math behind the theory is simple enough:


where p=popularity of American soccer, and i=intelligence of American soccer fans.

Back in 1950, American soccer had only one fan - Dent McSkimming. He's in the Hall of Fame now as a Builder. Brilliant man. Back in the 80's? If you were a soccer fan in the US, you worked pretty damned hard. There was no middle ground - either you were a dedicated, knowledgeable supporter, or you watched something else.

Then Paul Caligiuri came along, and started us on our current path. Just like a bowling ball in the gutter, we have no way out now. There will be more and more of us, each one dumber than the last, one promotion and relegation thread at a time. Eventually, we'll hit the American sports intelligence equivalent of the Heat Death of the Universe, and we'll finally be as dumb as Dallas Cowboys fans.

We may be living out "Flowers for Algernon," but at least we'll have lots of company.

Women's soccer doesn't seem to be on quite the same path, but it still bears out the theory.

1980's: "Title IX has made possible a whole series of societal changes, not least of which is the opportunity for women to express themselves through athletics. Here is a field where women can be judged by accomplishment, not appearance. We will be able to disprove the idea that competition, sportsmanship, achievement and dedication are strictly masculine qualities. We have chances that women before us did not have, and we will not squander them."

1990's: "MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

2000's: "I think 'Beat' is a fine name for a team, why do you ask?"