I DON’T REALLY GET SOCCER. I am an avid spectator sportsperson—I have watched baseball, basketball, tennis, football, and hockey all my life—but I’m fuzzy about the finer points of this game. However, I have become hooked on the World Cup to the point that I have read up on it (try dummies.com if, like me, you don’t even know the basics) and festooned my home page with a google “gadget” that gives me standings, schedules, and news updates. The games are weirdly enthralling—long periods of dexterous messing with the ball punctuated by explosive flurries near one goal or the other. The scores are low, the tension is exquisite, and each team seems in some respects to represent a distinctive, even stereotypical national character—flamboyant or sedate, earnest or scrappy—as do their outrageously costumed fans.