Tuesday, June 27, 2006

congratulations shaun and all bleu folk

It was a pleasure watching yr bleus today. They looked like grown-ups fielding sweet, rambunctious kids. Even Puyol seemed like a little kid, and he's got to be older than almost everyone in the tournament. Part of his charm, but still. I was having a blast watching it, the whole first half, and then yr comperes kicked into Italian gear with that Puyol frame-up and resulting goal and that made me pretty severely cantankerous. I began cursing aloud, spoiling the civilized atmosphere at the Rose and Thistle.

Then, a miracle! When Zidane swept that beautiful ball into the net, all my rancor vanished and I was cheering and weeping with (I assume, for who could resist?) tout le monde. It snapped everything into perspective. What's more important, that my Spaniards romp through to the next round and what would probably be a fairly wacky match against Brazil? (although, think about it: wouldn't that have been a wonderfully wacky match to see? alas) Or that Zidane's noble international career end on the lovely note that he deserves? The choice is obvious, and I wish him well.

I am suffering, however, a certain personal crisis of faith. IS there no honor? Really? I'm not just talking about the Puyol frame-up. I'm talking about my boys, too, and Portugal v. Holland and, well, everyone. I think I could count on one hand the games I've seen in this World Cup that didn't turn crucially on a successful dive or a devious foul or just a really bad call. Something happened to me in that last moment of Italy v. Australia: I was truly wounded by it. It's an absurd thing for a fully-grown human to say, but I really was. The cynicism of it, that because those fellows were too tired to face the overtime and knew the Aussies were in much better shape, to cheat so boldfacedly, in such an ugly way, and to get away with it. Awful. And how many times have I used the word "awful" in the last three days to describe the football I'm seeing?

Did you ever read PETER PAN? There's a part where Peter and Hook are fighting on a rock in the lagoon and Hook slips off into the water. Peter, doing the honorable thing, reaches down to help him up and Hook gives him the claw. Peter, since he can never remember anything, experiences every betrayal as the first one, and so is paralyzed with pain and horror every time Hook takes advantage of his sportsmanship.

C'est moi.

Still, I am pleased for France. Pleased for Zidane, and for Ribery, who has played so beautifully well. May my faith be restored (or replaced by something better) by the beauty of the games to come.

5 comments:

Shaun Huston said...

Lisa, you are very gracious, and I believe that the game was closer than suggested by the "grown-ups" and "kids" metaphor. Finishing, more than ever, seems to be the main skill separating victory from defeat, and that certainly was where France had the edge today. I will withold comment on the Puyol foul, but share your sentiments regarding how many games seem to be turning on fakery. I also felt gutted by the way Italy won. Such "professional" trickery has always been part of the game, and I really believe that the marginal officiating is responsible for turning it into such a stain on this particular Cup.

sal said...

i have not yet seen the italy game, so i cannot comment on that finnal foul/dive scenario. but i did see the goal that put france up 2-1 and that was just blatant cheating. i hope brazil embarasses and humiliates then thoroughly.

Idler said...

Where was the cheating? I watched the game while doing work things and missed a lot. There's no question that Thierry Henry cheated to get the free kick and stick Puyol with an undeserved yellow card. I thought the third goal might have been offside. Ribery's goal was not, however.

Spain got a soft penalty and couldn't muster the offense to score any other goals. France played hard, came back and had the ability to put the ball on goal.

I had hopes for Spain, but France finally put their talents to good purpose. You can't say that the better team didn't win, even if Henry is a sneaky, cheating scumbag. (Why are some of the best players the worst cheats?)

Lisa said...

I have to agree with you about the soft penalty, alas. And maybe the best players are the best cheats, in the sense that they save their dives for the moments when they're truly needed (ala Steven Gerrard)...

Lisa said...

Let me be clear: my men vs. boys image was meant to refer to STYLE of play, not skill level. The Spaniards tend to scamper around with so-focused-I-don't-hear-mom-calling-for-dinner faces, which I love and will miss...