The World Cup finally starts June 12, and for most American sports fans, that's a weird time: the days when Americans were aggressively indifferent to the world's most-watched sporting event have more or less passed, but even the sort of American fan who is willing to invest a bit of their summertime sports-watching enthusiasm (conveniently placed at a time when there isn't a whole lot else going on, American sports-wise) may well lack the broader context required to follow soccer news on a daily basis for the duration of the cup (or at least until the USA team is out of it).
Americans sports fanatics seeking that context might want to consider the Chrome extension "Football To Football Translator," which--as the name suggests--makes fairly direct comparisons between the role of various World Cup teams, players, managers, and more, to their gridiron counterparts. When the extension is active, anytime you visit a webpage that contains any of the numerous terms in its glossary, those words are highlighted, and clicking on them provides a cheat-sheet that offers immediate context: Reading about the World Cup schedule, for example, will offer you the option of clicking on "England" and learning that they're "Perennial underachievers. Over-hyped and under-talented. Their countrymen talk a big game because they won it long ago but lately they're big losers. Sounds like the Dallas Cowboys." The "translation" for Lionel Messi's name, meanwhile, explains that he's a "Small guy, really quick, can score a lot of sneaky goals with his footwork. Kind of like a less jacked Ray Rice."
That's a fairly useful way to connect with American fans who don't follow the game closely. The extension's website suggests that the "translations" might be a bit more condescending--it claims to translate "sissy World Cup lingo" into "real red-blooded NFL-related" terms--but aside from some of the same boring "Americans are oafs who think soccer is wimpy" thing you've seen a hundred times in the site's marketing copy, the actual extension is smart, well-designed, funny, and informative. Here's hoping Team USA does well against Ghana, also known as "A western African country about the size of Minnesota. They eliminated the USA from the past two World Cups. And they play us again this year. They're like the NY Giants to our Patriots when it comes to the Super Bowl of soccer." Goooooooooooooooooal!
[Image: Flickr user Norio NAKAYAMA]