Euan McCabe was born near Auckland, New Zealand, in March 1963.
He has since spent his life attempting to perfect a state of wellbeing that could probably best be described as Post-War Western Liberal Self-Fulfilment.
Fortunately, he was born with one significant talent: the ability to observe. And he has used this to dedicate his life to observing an unhealthy amount of televised sport. He could have chosen to leave it at that. But instead, he has travelled the world in pursuit of reasons why people become consumed by sport and the reasons for its effect on lives, cultures, societies and nations.
This has produced two outcomes: his book, The World Cup Baby, which documents the obsessive and profound influence of football’s World Cup finals tournament on himself and the people of our planet; and secondly, a realisation of just how irrational his life has become.
He presently lives in Wellington, New Zealand, with his partner Diane and their two year-old adopted Russian cat, Koshka. In his spare time, he attends a place of work for 40 hours a week.
Was it 1998 or 2002? I cannot even remember. But it was one of those surveys dreamt up by a hopeful survey company executive; hopeful the end result would be staggering enough to propel it around the world. Then he or she would achieve lifetime notoriety. Every pub introduction would incorporate: “Sam’s the person who masterminded that survey before the 1998 World Cup.” Or was it the 2002 World Cup? Regardless of which cup it was, Sam would be in demand as a keynote speaker at global survey conferences for decades to come.
Personally, I rarely trust surveys. Not since Sir Humphrey Appleby tutored Bernard that achieving a desired outcome is merely a case of persuasively framing the question. Shrewd old Sir Humphrey was nearly always right, but what would he have thought of a survey asking British males whether they would prefer making love to their partner or watching World Cup football?
Like me, he would probably consider it futile. Think about it. Sex is one of just two reasons why men were originally put on earth. Since the need for the other, providing for a family, has all but disappeared under an avalanche of female self-sufficiency and modernised welfare policy, sex assumes even greater importance nowadays.
You can choose to believe all those other equally dodgy surveys about modern lifestyles, tight underpants or overuse of cell phones reducing the sex drive of your average male, but nearly every bloke I know still thinks about, dreams about, or talks about sex in an alarmingly persistent fashion. Some are even fortunate enough to engage in it. Communication between men is already appalling enough.
Remove sex as a topic of conversation and you risk reducing it to a sequence of grunted greetings. But the males amongst us need not feel ashamed. After all, this is the way we were built.
God is a master of torque, and this was most evident in the way he dealt with sex. Ensuring the continuance of mankind was a complex assignment that required a combination of factors to successfully work in unison.
First, male testosterone levels needed pitching at the correct level. Too far one way and nothing constructive would ever get done. Too far the other way and the human race would have expired due to boredom, the last batch of disinterested teenagers concluding matters by spending too many Friday nights filling out survey forms. Realising this, He purposely over-compensated the male testosterone component a touch, before then balancing the equation perfectly with a combination of the female psyche and a handbook preaching restraint.
In stark contrast to men, most women actually reflect about sex and whom they engage in it with. But this alone was not sufficient. Men were physically built to be the provider and this enabled some, through the use of force, to simply ignore headaches or the desire to be loved. Thus the Bible, a compendium of moral guidance.
It is debatable as to whether the Bible has proved as successful as God originally intended. Mankind’s 2,000-year track record of rape, torture, murder, war and even the odd crucifixion would suggest not. Not being one myself, I can only surmise how a Christian would judge its success. Most appear to be supremely optimistic people (especially when predicting the ultimate fate of non-believers) and I would therefore guess adoption of the half-full glass approach: just imagine how much more dire history would have been without it. But, successful or not, the Bible was the spiritual precursor to what channels us today: the law.
And today the law instructs that we may not engage in sexual activity without the consent of the other person (or persons). Fair enough too. But this has not prevented men from building massive global enterprises geared solely towards loosening inhibitions and increasing prospects. Beer, Nightclubs, Curry Houses. Usually in that order. And God, foreseeing this evolutionary process, even chipped in with alcohol-reactive female hormones.
The spare time created by modern labour-saving devices has also helped revolutionise sex. So, rather than an essential activity to procreate life, squeezed in amongst the endlessly tiring struggle to survive, sex is now a recreational hunt; and one where possibility can assume more importance than outcome.
Sex today therefore assumes greater importance to men than ever.
Its original role, to continue the human race, remains. But the majority of our spare time is now expended on either plotting or partaking in leisurely and wasteful copulation, be it with a regular partner or someone else. It is little wonder that more and more women seem to be turning to other women to satisfy their sexual needs.
Let us summarise then. God created man in His own image. God therefore had a one-track mind and used His penis to compensate for this shortcoming. No, that cannot be right. Let us start again. God implemented a clever, interactive mixture of differing dynamics in men and women to ensure that the necessary amount of sex took place to ensure continuation of the human race. Included in this mixture were morals, which mankind then adapted to include both believers and non-believers. As a result of progress, the human race now has far too much spare time. Men largely employ this downtime to try to legally lure women into bed or onto the bonnet of a sports car. Women, being the far more intelligent and perceptive sex, are gradually tiring of this incessant puerility.
But one undeniable truth reigns supreme throughout the history of mankind and today remains as prevalent as ever: Sex is King! (Or Queen, depending on preferences.) It is what created each and every person ever born – apart from one well-documented Nazareth-based exception. By my rough estimate, this would be about eight billion.
Whew. And that is just successful sex, meaning it is probably fortunate that most men tire of it after a few minutes. But regardless, sex is what continues to make the male world turn around, whilst also remaining responsible for both the creation and the continuity of life.
How, then, could that survey possibly have arrived at any other conclusion? It was a complete and total mismatch. And the men of Britain are not stupid either. Was it Cecil Rhodes who once said that nine out of every 10 men born wished they had been born English? And those fortunate to be born British delivered the correct survey result after typically subjective thoughtfulness.
The World Cup routed Sex.
95% to 5%.
Sex may be responsible for both the creation and continuity of life, but the football World Cup is … well, considered by the vast majority as being preferable to sex.
Incisive, punchy, emotional and humorous, this is a story of obsession. An absolute must-read for those people who spend four years of their lives waiting for each World Cup, not to mention those who have to live with them!