Saturday, May 19, 2012

Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 My Log 306 May 19 2012

These babies, the soccer players with their histrionics and warped view of life’s priorities

I have just watched the whole of only the second soccer game I have seen since 1970, when I avidly followed the wonderful Brazilian team led by Pele and various other players almost as good, as their ferocious but controlled aggression swept them to the World Cup (I think it was being held in Mexico. I watched it from a hotel room in London, England, and the final in the bar of a Stockholm hotel).).
This game today was the final of the European  club championship between Chelsea and Bayern Munich, won by Chelsea. I heard someone say on TV a week or so ago that they should erect a statue to Didier Drogba for all he had done for the club. I have no idea what he has done, but when I saw him he seemed so much a template for the African sportsman, he looks so beautifully athletic, that I said, Drogba will win it for them. And what do you know, he did.
My customary criticism of soccer is that you have to watch it for 1,000 hours before anything happens. Of course, that is a cartoonish comment, and can be easily disproved by an aficionado.
But I have other criticisms: for example: the behaviour of the teams at the end of this game was just appalling. A player called Schweinsteiger, who missed a penalty kick, was prostrate on the ground, and acting as if his Granny had been killed in a car accident, blaming himself for the loss. At the same time, or shortly before, the Chelsea players had collapsed into a huge heap on top of the player who brought their penalty count up to equal with that of their opponents, exhibiting symptoms of excessive joy which indicated that World War III had just been brought to a glorious conclusion. They are not taking part in a war, or in a matter of life and death; and surely it is part of the training of any soccer player to know that in every team match, there is a winner and a loser. How to lose gracefully should be as much part of the playing of any game as how to win gracefully.
But it seems that soccer players have never heard of such ideas. They act as if soccer is the only thing on earth that means anything, which is probably why it has attracted the most disgraceful hooligan type fans, so brutal in their bearing that they have been known to be banned from even attending a game. And in today’s game--- it may have been my imagination --- there seemed an awful lot of incidents where the teams, particularly the German team, exaggerated their injuries with the intention of getting penalties or some other advantage. Rank bad sportsmanship.
For all the chuntering the soccer people do about “the beautiful game”, I find there is nothing beautiful about their attitude towards the game at all. The only acceptable thing I saw in the after-game behaviour was when Drogba, of the winning team, went up to Schweinsteiger and hugged him, presumably to assure him, “Okay, sonny, it’s just a game: your life will go on tomorrow. Go home and let your mummy tuck you into bed for a good night’s sleep.”
I am an enthusiast for Rugby Union, and for cricket. I know these are not perfect games, they do have their moments of degeneration, but at this level, they tend still to be run  on a concept of sportsmanship, certainly in comparison with the childish behaviour of the soccer players. Indeed, cricket has given its name to the very idea of doing things right, as in the expression, “that’s not cricket, to behave like that….”
In summary, my future viewing of soccer will be limited. I will stick to the excitement of the Indian Premier League of cricket, with its constant movement, wondrous skills, and intense good humour (okay, I know some cricketers have been reported to have engaged in corruption, which no one can condone.)
I am talking about the messages given to youngsters who oplay games.  Hockey, for example, gives the message that violence and fighting is just okay: if you are losing, you can always bash your opponent over the head. I remember being appalled by the brutality of Canada’s famous matches againstthe So;viet Union in1972.
Wasn’t that the series where a Canadian player went out on to the ice with thedelib erate intention of breaking the arm of one of the more successful of his adversaries, and he broke it?  One of Canada’s fondest sporting memories.
I have one other thing against hockey --- which I regard as one of the world’s greatest games, if only one can ever see it played free of it' thuggishness --- and it is something I heard for the  first time when I came to North America. It is the concept that was common here, and apparently still is, that a kid couldn’t make the team.  I never heard of such a thing in a New Zealand school, where I played most of my games. If there were more kids wanting to play than were needed for a team, another team was formed..No such thing as a kid standing on the sidelines, wishing he could be playing.
The result was that when I first arrived here, almost straight from a boyhood passed among the sports of New Zealand, I had the impression that Canada’s sports culture was very feeble, if it existed at all. And as for sportsmanship --- the game above the prize was the motto I always respected --- in Canada  with its concentration on the result,  sportsmanship as I understood it seemed to be virtually non-existent.
It may be different now. I know there is a vast network of opportunities for youngsters to play, but there is still the concengtration on the result: all sports is measured in terms of medals won, which is not exactly what sports should be about.
Okay, I’m an immigrant, and bring to this country for better or worse the values I grew up with.  

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  1. I will try this again. I cannot figure out how to write you directly so I will do it on here.
    This is Duane from 3-514 Cooper Street. The landlord has just finished evicting the second floor and now have served noticed to us - we are disputing this based on their claims. I really need to chat with you if possible write me at

    1. Duane
      I tried to write you by your email address, but it was rejected.
      `i can say that the reason `i was evicted was because the owner of the house was returning to `ottawa, and wanted to live in my apartment. `here is your two months notice, old boy. `it never occurred to me she was not going to occupy the flat. `but `i guess you never know with landlords.