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Day 29: The World’s Controversies

September 6, 2010

A theme of this project has been to recapture the excitement of the games themselves without the off-the-field distractions that you find on 24-hour networks and websites.  There may be the perception that this is something of an American viewpoint.  Far from it; modern sport scandal and controversy issues plague leagues all over the world.  Often, they’re even more off-the-wall than we’ve got here stateside.  The three major controversies at the moment each fall into distinct categories in relation to their impact on games and events.

1) On-the-field, directly impacts results

The opening weekend of the Australian Rules Football League’s “Finals Series” was highlighted by a rematch of last year’s Grand Final between champion Geelong and runner-up St. Kilda.  Brief primer of Aussie Rules scoring: 6 points for kicking the ball between the middle two goalposts and 1 point for kicking the ball between the outer two goalposts.  St. Kilda is up 4 points with a minute to go when Geelong gains momentum and sends the ball through to take the lead.  However, the whistle had blown before the ball crossed the plane as Geelong was called for a tackle from behind before the play.  Controversial plays aren’t unusual, even in playoff situations such as this.  Even though it cost Geelong the game, they still remain in the hunt for the league championship thanks to the league’s postseason structure rewarding the top four teams.  What makes this so fascinating is that the Australian Football League mics up all their referees, meaning you don’t just hear the ruling, you hear the players’ protests.  Here, the Geelong captain unloads on the ref: “You just lost us the game.  Do you UNDERSTAND that?  Do you UNDERSTAND that you just lost us the game?!” (Jump to 6:50 mark)

2) Off-the-field, directly impacts results

Four Pakistani players are under investigation for directly influencing the outcome of international cricket matches including a high-profile contest vs. England, especially damaging to a nation still reeling from floods that have displaced FOUR MILLION PEOPLE.  America’s unfamiliarity with international cricket may obscure the significance of this, so let’s put it this way:  let’s envision that Landon Donovan and Brad Friedel were accused of throwing the U.S.’ World Cup quarterfinal versus Germany in the 2002 World Cup, just months the American people were dealt a collective punch to the gut.  How well do you think THAT would have gone over?

3) Off-the-field, unlikely to impact results

Is there anybody in the world who is sick of their status as national icon as much as Wayne Rooney?  After lambasting his countrymen during the World Cup for booing the national team, Rooney finds himself back in the British tabloids following some Eliot Spitzer-like reports.

Sneaking off to the hotel behind your pregnant wife’s back is a pretty low move.  But it’s unlikely to impact any Euro 2012 qualifiers or Manchester United fixtures.  He’ll train, he’ll practice, he’ll score.  These are the types of distractions that are becoming a bit too much of these days and deserve the least attention; they only serve to spark water cooler discussion.

DR

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