Even the 0–0 Tie Ann Coulter Used to Illustrate Soccer’s Snooze Factor Was an Amazing Game

Yes, she’s just a troll. But I have to point this out how even a minor detail her in essay gets soccer wrong.

I don’t have a problem with the fact that Coulter thinks soccer is dumb and will somehow turn all American kids into Democrat-voting minority homosexuals on welfare, or whatever. Of course she hates soccer. Of course soccer is ruining something about our country’s morality (although short of feeding Christians to lions for sport, I’m not sure how any game affects anything moral about a nation-state). Nothing is less surprising than a political muppet pandering to the narrowest-minded factions of his or her support.

(I refuse to link to her piece, but if you haven’t seen it by now, Google “xenophobia” and “cultural vanguard of 1950” and it’ll probably be the top return.)

None of what Coulter wrote really bothered me, except this:

“This was an actual marquee sign by the freeway in Long Beach, California, about a World Cup game last week: ‘2nd period, 11 minutes left, score: 0:0.’ Two hours later, another World Cup game was on the same screen: ‘1st period, 8 minutes left, score: 0:0.’ If Michael Jackson had treated his chronic insomnia with a tape of Argentina vs. Brazil instead of Propofol, he’d still be alive, although bored.”

Part of her argument—what I can discern of it, anyway—is based on the claim that soccer is boring because there’s no scoring.

Funny thing about that. There has actually been a ridiculous amount of scoring in this World Cup. It has had more goals per game through the group stage than at any World Cup since 1958. And because FIFA, the sport’s governing body, conveniently keeps track of when goals are scored, you can use that information to determine whether someone might just be, you know, making stuff up to serve an ill-informed premise.

It’s Coulter’s contention that from a Long Beach freeway she first saw the score for a game that was goalless in the 79th minute. “Two hours later” she saw the score of a different game that was goalless in the 37th minute.

Turns out there are three days in which consecutive games were scoreless at those times: Tuesday, June 17th, Saturday the 21st, and Tuesday the 24th. Let’s take them in reverse order.

Coulter’s piece was dated Wednesday, June 25, so June 24 couldn’t have been “last week,” when she says she saw the billboard.

The next candidate is Saturday, June 21. In the day’s first game, Argentina beat Iran on a Lionel Messi strike in second half stoppage time. That was followed by the Germany vs. Ghana match, which finished 2–2, but all of the goals were in the second half. So the early game was indeed scoreless in the 79th and the following game was scoreless in the 37th.

However, Coulter had a speaking engagement in Ft. Myers, Florida, at 7 pm that night. The earliest she could have seen the second billboard was at 12:37 pm Long Beach time (local kickoff time for the second game was noon, and FIFA has been ridiculously punctual with start times). But 12:37 in Long Beach is 3:37 in Florida and it’s about a 4-and-a-half hour flight from Southern California to South Florida. Unless Coulter can rip holes through space-time and be in two locations at once, it’s not possible for her to have seen the score from the highway, then be in Ft. Myers to deliver a talk at 7 pm eastern.

The last remaining possibility is June 17. In the first game, Algeria scored in the 25th minute against Belgium. So that’s off the table. But the day’s middle game, Mexico vs. Brazil, was indeed a scoreless draw (and counter to Coulter’s belief that there are no MVPs in soccer, produced a clear man of the match in Memo Ochoa). That game was followed by South Korea vs. Russia, in which Igor Akinfeev frangoed in a gift to the South Koreans in the 68th. So again, we had a match that was scoreless in the 79th, followed by a match that was scoreless in the 37th.

On the same day, Coulter sent this Tweet.

Who or what she’s talking about doesn’t matter. But the time she was talking might. The timestamp shows that the Tweet was sent at 1:53 pm in the greater Los Angeles area.

The Mexico vs. Brazil game kicked off at noon on the West Coast. And again, games have been exceptionally on-time in starting. There was 1 minute of first half stoppage time. That puts the start of the second half at about 1:01 (45 minutes, plus 1 minute of stoppage, plus 15 minute halftime), so that makes the 79th minute at 1:35 at the absolute earliest.

There are a couple of other assumptions here, most notably that the timing on the scoreboard was real-time to the game (and there’s also the possibility that Coulter doesn’t even manage her own Twitter account, or schedules her hate-Tweets), but that gives Coulter at best an 18 minute window to get someplace that wasn’t her looking at the sign and send the Tweet.

Or maybe she Tweets while sitting in traffic.

Who knows? Just to be a pest, I sent an email asking her to clarify her whereabouts and Twitter activity on that day. She hasn’t responded. Is it possible that she saw the scoreboard, then 18 minutes later sent a Tweet? Sure.

But that ignores the fact that the billboard itself sounds like a fabrication. Why? First, soccer matches are divided into halves, not periods. Okay sure, that’s nitpicking. More important, though, World Cup games are measured in time elapsed, not time remaining. Let’s give Coulter the benefit of the doubt and assume she inverted the time when reconstructing what the scoreboard actually said. That’s okay. But it would mean she knows that there are 45 minutes in one “period” of a soccer game, raising my suspicions that she knows more about the game than she’s letting on and is therefore possibly un- or even anti-American.

Why does this matter? It might not. If you’re the type of person who believes that soccer is a Trojan Horse waiting to turn our entire country into a Godless monarchy that gives immigrants free education and healthcare, you have bigger things to worry about. But arguments built on fictions are the worst. You end up wasting time and energy just combatting bullshit. Each side can have their own opinions, but not their own facts. And this is a fact: there have been a lot of goals at the 2014 World Cup.

Ultimately, I feel sorry for Coulter. And not because I think she’s making things up to further a dumb line of reasoning. I feel bad because the first scoreless game she’s talking about; the one that was 0–0 in the 79th minute; the one she uses as evidence that soccer is boring; could only have been Mexico vs. Brazil. And, as anyone who actually watched it could tell you, that game was awesome.