After a rather large, but delicious, banquet dinner with the English department of my current school we decided to take a leisurely stroll back to campus and our housing.

The foreign teacher liaison of the school and I fell into conversation about the World Cup and China’s lack of participation. It’s no secret that football (not the American version) is popular here in the Zhongguo. However, China failed to qualify for the games.  I’ve heard my students profess their love for football on numerous occasions and it’s shown on the sports channel (CCTV 5, for interested parties) often. So why wasn’t China there? Hell, even the DPRK made it in.

It seems odd that a country of more than 1.3 billion people can’t find good enough footballers. Until you consider the following (which we discussed in detail and you therefore get the advantage of a Chinese POV also) there is no grass in Chinese cities. Okay, perhaps that’s not entirely true, there is grass. But it’s only in small patches. Certainly it is rare to see a field full of it, and more so, a field worthy of playing football on.

This is also why baseball has never taken off in China (according to our liason, M). And why ping pong, badminton, and basketball are such popular sports. They don’t require a lot of space and they don’t require grass.

M doesn’t think China will produce a good enough team for a couple more decades. He says he’s lost faith in the Chinese team for now. I try to be a bit more optimistic, but let’s be honest, until we start getting grass here in larger quantities than the size of my bathroom, it just ain’t gonna happen.

Who are you cheering for tonight?