Wednesday, July 7, 2010

And The Oscar Goes To...

The World Cup is almost over and I’ve learned a bit watching it. I now know what it means when they call “offsides” in the sport. I now understand why people say America’s biggest problem is a lack of strikers. (Strikers require breakaway speed. Any American with that much speed is playing wide receiver somewhere. What America has is decent corners, who occasionally get beat.)

However, I now have a new understanding about a certain aspect of football loved all over the U.S. It’s punters and kickers.

In the game of football, place kickers perform their duties in a method that used to be called “soccer style.” I say “used to be” as the method referred to as soccer style is now the norm.

After watching the World Cup, I understand why some soccer players become kickers. It’s not that they weren’t good enough athletes.

The problem is that they weren’t good enough actors.

We’ve seen it before. Punters. Kickers. Sometimes they do get knocked around and “roughing” penalties are justified. There are some that are definitely questionable. (For those of you remember the roughing the kicker penalty in the Auburn-Northwestern game on New Year’s Day, replays showed that the Auburn player did not run into the kicker. Instead, the kicker was in one-leg up follow through and hopped forward two steps, tripping and falling over the Auburn player.)

However, there are times when kickers are barely grazed, yet they hit the ground like they collided with a truck. After watching the World Cup, though, I have to say that at least our kickers in football at least get off the ground when the referee tells them to quit faking it. In soccer, though, it’s considered sportsmanship to put on a drama scene.

For starters, I will admit that Ghana outplayed the U.S. and deserved to win the Round of 16 game. Congratulations to them and on making it to the quarterfinals.

But what I saw in the extra time period soured me on soccer as a sport. I saw a Ghana player, untouched, hit the ground and start moaning in pain. After another Ghana player touched the ball, the refs called time to talk with the player who was on the ground, apparently was in grave pain. A stretcher was brought out and the player was carried off, all the while time continued to run on the clock. Once the stretcher hit the sidelines, the player JUMPED up, grabbed some tape from a Ghana trainer, and wrapped his own ankle, bouncing on his feet. Additional time elapsed, as the player’s sub had to come in. A minute later, the “injured” player returned to the pitch, wasting additional time. And while there is extra time put back on the clock. It never equals the amount of time lost in such performances.

This may be “sportsmanship” to some, but these actions should be viewed as an embarrassment. That such actions are celebrated speaks volumes.

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