Thursday, July 8, 2010
Behind The Scoreboard
‘Futbol’ and more sports
First let me say that I sincerely hope that your July 4th celebrations were safe, satisfying and relaxing. This is being penned prior to our annual (ninth) Water Gun War, but if previous years are any indications, I am sure that it will be a soaking good time.
There were top level sports activities going on before, during and after the celebrated day. As popular as the American style of football has become in the last couple of decades, it pales in comparison to the world style of football (often pronounced “futbol” on the international scene), commonly known as soccer. For whatever myriad reasons, soccer has begun to pique the interest of many on the American stage and it has drawn embracers from all ages and gender groups.
The FIFA (Federation of International Football Associations, I think) World Cup tournament, which has been going on for weeks now and is scheduled to end on July 11 in Durban, South Africa, saw our U.S team put out after reaching the field of 16, a pinnacle place which they had not enjoyed for about 80 years. The Americans tried hard to make an impression in a sport which has been the number one athletic activity worldwide for eons.
Their run was halted, oddly enough, by the same team which eliminated them from competition in the last World Cup, Ghana. The game was marred by some suspect calls from the officiating crew which did not set well with most Americans. Unlike our football, there is only one official in the center of the field (the head referee). The other six are all on the sidelines. The Ghanaians won by a single point (2-1).
In all sporting activities there always seems to be an emerging hero and in the World Cup games it was Landon Donovan when they played Algeria. Aside from the heroes, there are also amusing asides which add to the different stages of the sports. For instance during the recent NBA draft, one draftee relating to the vast TV audience remarked how poor his family had been and how courageous his mother had been through it all and that he had already bought her a house.
And of course, you all know of the meteoric rise to dominance in the tennis world by the Williams sisters and what it has meant to their family. Serena just won her fourth Wimbledon championship and 13th Grand Slam. Sister Venus (who was ranked number two) was also in the tournament but did not reach the finals. If one studied Venus’ countenance during her match, one could clearly see that the verve and drive were not reflected. Methinks (as they say in England that she is just trying to give baby sister a chance to catch up).
Of all the attendant stories surrounding the sports world there is one that is particularly amusing and gratifying. When I was in England the first time, everyone played the “football pools” in the papers. One could win a fortune by betting pennies. There was a 60-year-old “char woman” who had worked for the same three building apartment complex for over 30 years. She put seven pennies on her picks and won 86,000 pounds sterling. At that time the rate of exchange was approximately three dollars (U.S.) to the pound
One would probably think that the lady would have retired to her favorite country side and lived a life of luxury thereafter, and one would be wrong. She bought the apartment complex and would you believe this? She continued to be the “char woman.”
Isn’t the world of sports wonderful?
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