It comes as no surprise that the Zidane incident in the World Cup final seems to have empowered those who have never watched World Cup soccer, or Premier League soccer for that matter, to weigh in on the matter. I wouldn’t say that my knowledge of the sport approaches that of Steve Gilliard or that third goofy-looking guy over at Powerline (not that guy…the other one), but I do know a bit about soccer having given up what seems like years of weekends and vacations for it, traveling for it, spending thousands of dollars on it, arguing about it (we can spend hours discussing the flat back four), and watching continuous coverage of it on, what is now called, Fox Soccer.
Now everyone is entitled to their opinion on Zidane’s actions but, really, only those who are new to the sport would say that he gave the game a black eye…or a bruised sternum as the case may be. Regardless of the flopping and dramatics of certain players who fall to the ground attempting to draw a foul call, soccer is an incredibly physical game that has more than its share of cheap shots and subtle, and not so subtle, ways of cheating in order to gain advantage. (A favorite among high school girls is to grab your opponents shorts before they go up for a header thereby giving your opponent the feeling that they’re being pantsed as they attempt to go up which causes them to abort the mission).
We would all like to believe that soccer is a game of incredible grace with gazelle-like athletes running up the field with a ball seemingly glued to their feet as they do full-speed stepovers, give-and-goes, and other amazing things. And it is. But is also jersey grabbing, hooking, hard tackles, shoving, head-butting, and trash talking. Lots and lots of trash talking. This isn’t to excuse Zidane because his timing couldn’t have been worse. But when you have been running and being pulled on and tackled from behind for ninety plus minutes (and let’s not forget that there are no timeouts in soccer outside of injury stoppages) sometimes you’re going to lose control and do stupid things.
And speaking of stupid things….
Zidane, Moral Logician [Jonah Goldberg]
Not that I’m particularly invested in any of this, but Zidane’s position is just sorta stoopid. He says about his decision to headbutt that other guy: “I would like to apologise because a lot of children were watching the match. I do apologise but I don’t regret my behaviour because regretting it would mean he was right to say what he said.”
I-apologize-but-regret-nothing is already a pretty contradictory stance. But since when is regretting an over-reaction a blanket endorsement of somebody else’s provocative behavior? If Rich deliberately steps on my toe and I respond by burying a ballpoint pen in his skull, I will regret it later. But that doesn’t make Rich right for stepping on my toe. And saying, “I apologize but I don’t regret it,” wouldn’t count as a lot of sincerity.
I now leave this topic forever, unless I’m dragged in by forces beyond my control. Should that happen I will apologize for breaking my word, but I won’t regret it.
Leaving aside Jonah’s thinly veiled deathwish for Rich (“Ha ha ha! I was joking, Rich. Y’know? Trying to make a point? I’m a kidder. I kid!”) we are left with Jonah Goldberg, Pantload PÃ¢teux, who only plays rhetorical games in which nobody wins or loses (“Everyone gets a trophy day” – Simpson’s reference!) and whose idea of working out is sitting on a leather couch in a warm room on a hot and humid day and watching TV while making his own gravy.
That ought to exercise your gorge….