Thursday, May 22, 2008

Out of bullets

I got back from a long day working downstate in Lebanon, Oregon (which is like Lebanon of the Cedars in the way that Hostess Twinkies are like rich homemade, lemon-y and creamy hummus) in time to catch the last ten minutes of regulation, overtime and the penalty shootout of the 2008 UEFA Champion's League final.What I saw was an "exciting" game, in that both sides had several good chances at goal in the short time I watched, and (much as I hate to admit it, not being a fan of ManUCorp) both sides played fast, flowing soccer or as fast as the present enthusiasm for rough, grabby play allowed.

And I have to admit that from what I saw the result wasn't unfair. Manchester looked the better of the two sides by a smidget.

But what it particularly reminded me was how much I loathe the awful lottery that is the penalty kick "shootout" FIFA has settled on as a way of deciding final matches. All season, and all game, teams have to stay focused, play hard and smart, show their skills and mastery of the game and all its aspects.

Until the end, when a rigged-up round of end-of-practice-time drills makes a crapshoot of the whole business.I'm too young to have seen one, but I know enough of the game's history to know that before the greedy hand of success closed around football's throat championship draws were replayed.

That's right. Played over again, whistle to whistle. All ninety minutes, full sides, giving the two teams another chance at actually deciding which side has the better of the other. No, it's not impossible. The English FA still replays draws in the lower stages of its Cup competition.

I know all the objections, yadda, yadda. They all come down to what's better for the TV network, the viewer and the "fan", who supposedly wants a "winner". But speaking as a fan it still seems to me that after playing their heart out that a team like Chelsea, losing in the crappiest of crapshoots, is damn hard done by and we should look to find a better way.

1 comment:

mike said...

I didn't even know that soccer existed until my kids learned to play when we were sent to live in sunny Southern California courtesy of Uncle Sam in the late 70s early 80s. I became a big fan and even cheerfully lost some arguments on Monday nights whether we would watch Americano football on the network channel or Mexicano futball on a cable channel.

I think those Manchester United guys and the rest of the Euros would never survive in the Mexican leagues.

Los Tigres forever!!!