Saturday, June 10, 2006

The World Cup's First Drama Major

One of the unfortunate things about soccer is the overreaction to injuries. You see players writhing in pain, and pleading for someone to please, please shoot them and end their misery. Half a minute later, they're running around like a spring colt. In the worse cases, nothing at all happens and it's a complete ploy, which the refs are supposed to card. To be fair, a quick recovery can happen with a lot of the leg stuff - getting kicked in the shins can give that kind of intense pain that soon fades, but this morning I saw my first case of "World Cup Drama Major Gone Bad." H. Valdez of Paraguay took an elbow to the jaw that looked pretty minor. Of course, he dropped and started writhing around like his head was going to fall off. Whoever has the ball kicks it out and it's returned afterwards by the other team kicking the ball out. This good-sportsmanship gesture is essential when there are no quick stoppages of play for injury, but it also is an open invitation to fake an injury to build up pressure on the refs. Maybe just to rest. Eventually, the stretcher is brought out, and the player achieves a miraculous recovery, finding it within himself to play on. Valdez didn't go that far, but he was back up moments later, dribbling the ball as if nothing was wrong. That's when it happened. He gave his teammate's a frustrated hand gesture, right while he had the ball, that seemed to say, "I can't do this all myself, people! Work with me!" Later when his shot went wide, he acted like he was in a death scene from a Shakespeare play. Yup, it's official. The World Cup has its first Drama Major.


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