I’m not really the biggest fan of Rosie DiManno but I am a big fan of football (real football not the american stuff) so of course I read this article and I completely agree with what she had to say,
When Brendan Shanahan missed the final shootout attempt at the Nagano Olympics, bouncing Canada out of the gold medal game, he was devastated. But he didn’t bawl for all the world to see.
On none of the three occasions that Dave Stieb lost no-hitters with two outs in the ninth — before finally nailing it one memorable night in Cleveland — did he convulse into blubbering, though tears of rage at some limp fielding from teammates would have been justified.
Not even a notable mama’s boy like Vince Carter ever turned on the waterworks whilst on the court.
There’s no crying in hockey, no crying in baseball, no crying in basketball and sure as hell no crying in oblong pigskin football.
But the other football, as most of the planet calls soccer, is one big Crying Game.
Oh, the boo-hooing at the World Cup. A New Zealander sobs before the start of that country’s final match here, overcome with emotion. A Blue Samurai weeps profusely when Japan is ousted on penalty kicks.
It makes for great drama, I suppose, a grand opera of soccer sentimentality, feelings worn on one’s sleeve. But, sheesh, get a grip girls.
Admittedly, I’m a Philistine at the gates of the World Cup. I can barely keep my Ronaldos straight from my Ronaldinhos and Robinhos. I am not excessively moved by any team’s anguished departure from the tournament.
And I’ve spent enough time in losing dressing rooms, across the spectrum of sports, to know that athletes do choke up, get lachrymose, over dreams crushed. But at least they usually have the good grace to keep these moments relatively private. That’s what renders those occasions when tears are spilled out in the open even more poignant — such as Mats Sundin wiping away salt droplets from his cheeks after the long standing ovation upon his return to the Air Canada Centre as a Vancouver Canuck.
Soccer players, by comparison, weep at the drop of a hat, or the strains of a pre-game national anthem — joined arm-in-arm-in-arm (way too much touching, as me) — fists squinched into eyes, forearms raised across faces.
They are as prone to sappy histrionics as they are to ouch-oomph-owie dives, faking flamboyant spills when barely touched by an opponent.
Perhaps this over-the-top emotionalism has something to do with ethnic extraction, soccer most wildly popular in countries where passions percolate close to the surface and males aren’t considered sissified for showing their sniffle-sniffle side. That might explain the Latin nations, anyway. If Italian players can get away with carrying man-bags, they surely don’t have an image problem making like onion-peelers. At least the anal English side maintained a stiff upper lip when tossed so ignobly in the round of 16. (Paul Gascoigne sobbing inconsolably at the 1990 semi against Germany was a famous exception to Albion stoicism.)
It could be that my own cultural aversion to men weeping — or, ahem, holding hands — has predisposed me to wincing at the display of overt emotionalism in South Africa, all that mawkishness. But between the crying and the diving — excuse me, the simulation — it’s been like one long pussy-fest.
On the matter of the latter — players sprawling to the pitch as if shot — referees are supposed to be trained in detecting real fouls from flagrant fakes and feigned injuries. Yet they’ve often been as blind to hammy theatrics as to obvious goals un-counted and hand-balls un-called. Meanwhile, some of the game’s biggest stars — Cristiano Ronaldo come on down — endlessly whine about ghost molestation.
Didier Drogba, who really did have a fractured elbow coming into this tournament, is another serial simulation offender. In a moment of shocking candor, he once admitted: “Sometimes I dive, sometimes I stand.” Later he retracted the comment.