Celebrating on the 10th goal.
I don’t watch soccer or what everyone else in the world calls football.
I don’t find it all that exciting as players run around for what seems like hours, winding up at 0-0 or 1-1 , play some overtime and then decide the game in a “shoot out” – if that’s what it is called. Growing up in a Little Italy there were many of old immigrants who were soccer fanatics and they would gather on Sundays at the field…err…pitch and kick the ball around.
I was playing baseball with my friends.
Every sport has its unwritten rules. Baseball players, in particular, frown on show-offs. Guys who flip bats or try to bunt late in a game when a pitcher has a no-hitter going.
Lots of what we have internalized about sport comes from what Pierre de Fredy, Baron de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee had in mind. The Baron, whose nobility went back to King Louis XI, was an idealist of first order.
“He believed that the early ancient Olympics encouraged competition among amateur rather than professional athletes and saw value in that. The ancient practice of a sacred truce in association with the Games might have modern implications, giving the Olympics a role in promoting peace. This role was reinforced in Coubertin’s mind by the tendency of athletic competition to promote understanding across cultures, thereby lessening, in his mind, the dangers of war. In addition, he saw the Games as important in advocating his philosophical ideal for athletic competition: that the competition itself, the struggle to overcome one’s opponent, was more important than winning.
It’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game.
Coubertin expressed this ideal thus: “The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle; the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought wel.
Now soccer fans are notoriously raucous. And goals are celebrated by the player who scores, his team mates, the coaches and the fans.
But there are unwritten limits. Teams want to beat their opponents; not humiliate them.
A perfect example is the German men’s team stunning victory over Brazil, winning the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. After the score reached 4 – 0 the German team ceased all celebration. The final was 7 – 1. The Brazilian press gave the Germans kudos for their humility in victory during one of Brazil’s darkest days.
“Humility in victory; grace in defeat.”
So last week, the American women’s soccer team, ranked #1 in the world took on a mostly amateur team from Thailand who were so happy just to be there. The game was a serious over match for Thailand and the American women were expected to win easily.
At the end of the half the U.S. women led 3 -0 and were in absolutely no danger of losing the match. So you go out there and score 2 or 3 more goals in the 2nd half and call it a match?
The Americans went out, scored TEN goals, running up the score to 13 -0 – and celebrating with prepared choreography after each and every goal – not only on the field, but on the bench, including the coaching staff.
Why does this display leave and unpleasant taste in my mouth? And more than that, why does it strike me as so typically 21st century American?
Could our American women done any more to humiliate a vastly over matched Thai team of first timers? I guess we could have broken out into a chant: “Losers! Losers! Losers!.”
First there is the issue of running up the score – wouldn’t 6 or 7-0 have been suffficient? Nope. Apparently the goal differentiation can be a tie breaker. Suppose Sweden went out and ran up the score against Thailand? We had to keep on scoring against what must of been a thoroughly demoralized and crushed bunch of humiliated Thai women.
But then we had to celebrate each excessive, unnecessary goal with choreography, further rubbing their noses in it.
Talk about ugly Americans. It is clear they come in both sexes.
And of course there are those who defend this behavior – including the coach. I can understand a first timer at the World Cup scoring his or her first goal and celebrating. Deservedly so. But not some one dancing wildly on the ten or eleventh goal against a hapless team of virtual anateurs who has already scored 40 goals on the world circuit.
That’s not about team. That’s about “Me!” – “Look at Me!!”
Totally classless. The Baron is turning over in his grave.
I hope they lose. They deserve it – IMHO anyway.