13 July 2011

Football is not drama.

By Dr3



This ain't ESPN


I am sorry. I don’t watch football for its drama factor. I can’t sieve through trash to find a hallmark moment. Neither will I smell shit and call it Sean John. I want above all, good football first. Heart, and all the other ‘ineffables’ that make poetic narratives of a game, somehow now emblematic of the epic struggle and courage of war, are not first or needed, for me, in any game. So while it writes itself that a final penalty taker fought cancer, it warms the heart but doesn’t change anything, if it’s in the background of substandard football.

The past three weeks have been overwhelmingly underwhelming. I sadly (extemporaneously), questioned just how shameful the shunning of the Women’s World Cup was by “the media” from the onset. What has followed are polemics waged against the establishment, ostentatious praise of this World Cup and by extension women’s football, and spectacular highlight reel moments, all in the background of some really, really poor football. Coupled with just how truly horrible the Copa America has been (from pitch quality to play, to analysis), it’s been really hard trying to deal with the pretense. The pretense that says that if I don’t accept the Women’s World Cup as brilliant, I am bigoted. The pretense that says if the men’s Brazil team is poor, it is because of Neymar. The pretense that says that Messi has proven “once again”, that he is no Pele/Maradona . There is drama in football. It does not need to be fabricated.

I am no football-romantic, but I am a football fan first. Richard Whittall spoke about the obligation fans feel to accept the game on face value as nonsense, which I agree with. I don’t have to pretend a game is not nauseating for the sake of identifying myself with anything or anyone, or not as something or someone. If international players can’t make 5 yard passes, or have no game plan, or hit and hope more than they intend anything, I will not then call it a fabulous spectacle. I will not polish copper and call it gold. I have struggled to watch any WWC team play for the full ninety minutes, with the exception of Japan and France. Now while the reasons behind the lack of quality in the women’s game are wide ranging and a scathing indictment on sexism in football’s foundation, it doesn’t mean that I pretend it is not lacking quality; even so far as to claim that it has been the greatest. In understanding the context, my disappointment is moderated. But in reading future folklores today, I’m a little disgusted and bewildered as I must be in the twilight zone (am I the only one seeing this?).

There was a piece of shit article dissecting Ronaldo’s (skinnier fat-pork’s) hat trick at Old Trafford, into a comedy of errors. Now while I disagreed with that notion and the one that errors take away from genius, I only disagree within a certain context. If we are talking about errors in which keepers try to embarrass their families forever (Barthez, Gomez, any-English-kepper-on-international-duty, Almunia etc), then I definitely agree that they take away from a hallmark moment. Now while the WWC has produced a lot of “golazos”, quite frankly, there have been amateurish errors reminiscent of women’s collegiate soccer in the States. As an example, Jill Scott scored a great goal against France in their final game. Now while the commentators touched on the contextually “sexist” conversation about women goalkeepers (in this case the French), the embarrassing mistake came before it. Two French defenders were beaten by the spin of a ball on the turf. The spin. In a moment reminiscent of Kaka making fools of Evra and the other idiot, Scott was through. Much like Kaka, there was more to be done, and the icy-veined Scott impressively made ridiculously light work of scoring the goal. But that error? It’s cringe-worthy. Can you imagine Mexes/Abidal and Sagna making that error against Lampard and it not being the focus in this day of dissecting and dissecting again? Yet we pretend it didn’t happen. There is a context in which to judge the women’s game; against itself. There should however also be a context in praising it. So while the ratings and attendances sky-rocket, stuck in the twilight zone again, somehow I remember there being better quality overall at the last World Cup (Drunk nostalgia?).


Football creates drama. Football creates talking points. Football evokes emotion. Football can make amicable people heartless and callous. There is no need for Gladiator themes. No need for Pagliacci samples. No need to put football on a stage. In Istanbul, there was enough drama on that day on the pitch, such that I will never forget where I was, what I was eating, what temperature it was and the like as the drama unfolded. In Dresden it was the same. That these women scored a goal in extra-time of extra-time is dramatic enough. That these women played with ten for over half an hour is dramatic enough. Like reporters embellishing quotes for Pulitzers though, it apparently is never enough. We need to say that it was an epic struggle against an establishment bent on kicking the U.S out. We need to say everything was against them, and like true gladiators their character was aroused. Never mind needing a magnifying glass on stills to see an offside. Or needing a second replay to really see what happened with the tackle on Marta; it was definitely UNICEF FIFA that contrived to stop them. There was controversy without ad-libs to your narrative (the penalty retake??). There was drama too.

Anyway, the point is not really to be too scathing, because while being overwhelming, it has also made the fleeting moments of absolute quality all the more genius, if not, out-of-context. I still don’t know where that goal came from in the Mexico – England game; haven given up, I was cooking eggs. As usual though, what has been annoying is the sensationalism. I really do hate the effin World Cup. Until sexism and its effects become history though, this is my only real window into the women’s game (anyone with streaming links to Women’s French league?? Or something?). I’m not a tyrant. I don’t go to college games and expect to see Zidane. I don’t go to pick-up games and expect tactical plans. I don’t expect these teams to play in the same fashion as men. But I do expect them to play at least closely to the fairytales that are being written.

SN: As if not sobered, and befuddled enough the Barcelonafication continues. Japan, due to playing attractively, is now the Barcelona of the Women’s Game.

Links:

Run of Play sometime ago on Mythology. One of their best posts imo

WC:

Jennifer Doyle: just read all her posts. Polemics and analysis. Yes. I'm linking to her twice.

Whittal

"boy versus girls"

Fake Sigi A guy who writes about women's football. A women's football fan. Must hate his father (it's a joke!!). Anyway. Just read all his posts.


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