Monday, June 21, 2010

Quelle Dram!

Of the many facets that are reflected from the imperfect human diamond that is the every-four-year FIFA World Cup, the refereeing angle stands out as truly dramatic.  As with any human endeavour involving action and judgement, human foibles, perceptions, and inaccuracies will abound.   As they inevitably occur, wrongs are disputed, nationalities insulted, and vituperative discussions ensue.

To be a referee in any sport, but particularly one as emotionally charged as Football, requires a prodigious amount of existentialism.   G Cronk, from Bergen CC, notes that "Existential anguish is the result of an awareness of one's "total and deep responsibility" for oneself and for others; it is based on the fact that one must choose and act without proof of the correctness or value of one's choices and actions."   He goes on to state that, ""Every man ought to say to himself, 'Am I really the kind of man who has the right to act in such a way that humanity might guide itself by my actions?'"

Death may be a direct result of what their eyes see and what their whistles expresses.   An appreciation and a learned eye for the human drama is most necessary as dribbling, running, shooting, and acting are all wrapped together in a 90 minute (give or take 4 minutes) performance requiring a judicious eye.   If a game plays out without mention of the referee nor his decisions, a rarity has occurred, the game's results are posted, and we move on to the next match.  However, questionable decisions crop up like weeds and the 90 minute game takes on a much longer lifeTim Howard has it perfectly right, IMHO.   In football, controversy sells.   Do I hope that future games are cursed/blessed with questionable human decision-making?  Absolutely!   Decision-making by the players, by the managers, by the referees.  This is what makes sports so interesting.  It's not just the performance of highly tuned athletes that give events like the World Cup its shine; it's the human-ness of these same athletes, their support staff, and the "dis-interested" officials on hand.  Together they form the conversation that always follows.

N.B.:  A note to all Team USA fans who may still be upset with the bad call that denied the US the third goal that may have won them the yesterday's game between New Zealand and Italy.  Unlike Team USA, which played a brilliant 2nd half to salvage a tie against Slovenia (yes, my choice in the World Cup) but an incredibly bad and they-deserved-to-lose-just-based-on-that first half, New Zealand played an EXTRAORDINARY complete game, only to get "cheated" out of a deserved victory over a superior Italy due to theatrics of the diving sort.   The Italians (who beat out Argentina for this type of thing, but barely) are well-versed in The Art of The Dive (How they did not make that list is beyond me).  The referee of the NZ-IT game, Carlos Batres, seemed more like a theater attendee for a Broadway musical than an official at a sporting event, when he elected to award a penalty kick to the Italians after he witnessed Daniele De Rossi performing a Dive worth a 10.   As an added and horrible joke, De Rossi won the man of the match award.   Be sure to watch next year's Oscars; I'm sure he'll be up for some award there as well.


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