NaBloPoMo 2009 Day 6 — Who says soccer’s not a contact sport?
Many of you have probably seen the video clip of the Mountain West Conference women’s semi-finals soccer match between New Mexico and BYU. A New Mexico defender takes physical play to a completely new level. You want your central defenders to be tough and to play a physical brand of soccer. And I can sympathize with the New Mexico player as this back and forth starts. She is marking a BYU forward who gives her an elbow in the chest. This obviously does not sit well with the defender. Her mistake is that she rares back and punches the forward in the top of her back. The situation clearly calls for a forearm in the lower back — a strike that says “I won’t be pushed around by you BYU forward.” Message delivered. But no, rather than standing up to the opponent and moving on, the punch to the back is just the appetizer of a 10-course meal of violence. No white table cloths at this affair either. This is like a torch-lit Viking buffet of slabs of meat — killed and skinned table-side — and casks of ale. Not exactly fine dining.
For those of you who haven’t seen the video of Thursday’s match yet or those who can’t see it enough times, here it is again:
I was asked today if I ever had my hair pulled like that in a match. I had hair that long in the late-80s, but I never pulled it back in a pony tail. The mullet was sufficient. But no one ever pulled the mullet. (Why would they? At 5’8″ no one ever mistook me for Samson.) Plenty of elbows in the sides and back throughout my play in high school and college. I can identify with the emotion that this New Mexico player obviously felt the other day. Not justifying anything she did, but the game gets heated if you care at all about your performance and your team’s performance. Emotions can get the best of you from time to time. One particular instance comes to mind when I was a sophomore in college. We were playing our homecoming match. I was playing in the midfield on the wing. An opposing midfielder knocked me down as we were fighting for a ball by the sideline. Then, he stood over me and/or said something unkind. As fast as my shoulder blades hit the ground, I popped back up. In one motion, I stood up and shoved him in the chest knocking him on his back and stood over him. My Old Testament approach got me a yellow card. (The stereotype that the Irish have short fuses is probably based on thousands of similar incidents in towns on both sides of the Atlantic. At least mine didn’t take place in a bar in Dublin or South Boston!)