Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Soccer and Other Sports Where You Can Score 1 Point at a Time

I'm reading a book called "Soccernomics" at the moment, and though it's too early to pronounce a verdict, the second chapter was pretty amusing. It starts out like this (keep in mind, the book was published in 2009):

"When the England team flies to South Africa for the World Cup, an ancient ritual will start to unfold. Perfected over England's fourteen previous failures to win the World Cup away from home, it follows this pattern:"

The authors go on to list 8 phases. Here are the first 5.

Phase 1: Pretournament - Certainty that England will win the World Cup

Phase 2: During the tournament - England meets a former wartime enemy

Phase 3: The English conclude that the game turned on one freakish piece of bad luck that could only happen to them

Phase 4: Moreover, everyone else has cheated

Phase 5: England is knocked out without getting anywhere near lifting the Cup

Pretty hilarious. In case you missed England's fate, they were indeed knocked out by a wartime enemy (Germany), and they did have a piece of freakish bad luck when Frank Lampard's goal wasn't counted. Their media and supporters harped on this (perhaps rightly) as the key turning point in the match, and England were eliminated in the round of 16, far away from the championship.

The chapter goes on to argue that England has no right to expect to be good, based on their population and economy and prejudices, but that some sort of imperialist residue lingers from grander times, and the resulting mindset creates unrealistic hopes. It's no fun being England.

On a completely unrelated note, did you know that it's possible to get a safety on a two-point try or an extra point? In college football, either team can receive one point if they score a safety during a conversion.

For the offense to score a safety, they would have to fumble the ball near the goal line. A defender would have to pick it up, run backward into the endzone, and get tackled. This is really, really rare. It's only happened once that anybody knows about, in a Texas-Texas A&M game in 2004 after a blocked extra point.

Amazingly, the defense can also score a point. This has never happened, and probably never will, but if the defense came away with a turnover or recovered a blocked kick, raced all the way downfield, lost the ball near the opposite endzone, at which point an offensive player recovered, ran into his own endzone and was tackled, that's one point to the D.

If it ever happened, it would be the most ridiculous play in football history. I hope I see it in my lifetime.

That'll do it for today. I'm off tomorrow, so no blog, but I return on Thursday. Yanks-Angels tonight, Hughes going for win number 12, and I'll be at the Stadium tomorrow afternoon to buy some hats and watch Javy get all glorious. Thursday's morning post will undoubtedly be a nice piece of Javy Vazquez fan fiction.

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