Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Cheekiest Play In The History Of Women's Athletics (But Perhaps I'm Biased)

During the dramatic 3-1 U.S. victory over France in the semi-finals of the Women's World Cup yesterday, there was a certain play that captured my imagination. And it was not Abby Wambach's decisive header. In fact, I am sad to report that it was actually a play by a French player.

U.S goalie Hope Solo had scooped up yet another long range French shot, and attacking midfielder Gaetane Thiney noticed that Solo was holding the ball in one outstretched hand, like she was hefting a melon at the grocery store. Thiney scampered around Solo, staying out of her sight, and then headed the ball out of Solo's over-sized glove towards the goal.  The Yahoo Eurosport live blog reported this about Thiney's play: "Thiney attempts to head the ball out of Solo's one hand as the keeper prepares to belt it down field. Very cheeky. A nice attempt but the ref gives a free kick." While there is some debate over whether this play was legal or not, it appears the referee made a good call. Check out the rule below. I've bolded the important stuff.

12.16 GOALKEEPER POSSESSION OF THE BALL

The goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball when the ball is held with both hands, held by trapping the ball between one hand and any surface (e.g., the ground, a goalpost, the goalkeeper’s body), or holding the ball in the outstretched open palm. Once established, possession is maintained, when the ball is held as described above, while bouncing the ball on the ground or throwing it into the air. Possession is given up if, after throwing the ball into the air, it is allowed to hit the ground.

While the ball is in the possession of the goalkeeper, it may not be challenged for or played by an opponent in any manner. An opponent who attempts to challenge for a ball in the possession of the goalkeeper may be considered to have committed a direct free kick foul.

Still, I thought Thiney had a lot of guts to challenge Hope Solo in this manner. I saw it as a David and Goliath moment, the slender and petite Thiney pestering the intimidating giant. But when I looked up the size of the players, I found that Solo is only two inches taller than Thiney. Perhaps something else was at play in my mind. Perhaps the play captured my imagination not because it was clever and "cheeky." Perhaps it captured my imagination because Thiney looks like this:


After the play, I lost focus on the game-- which is easy enough to do, it is soccer after all-- and instead began to fantasize about what I would say if I ran into Gaetane Thiney in Paris (a city I have no desire to visit). In my fantasy I was fluent in French (a language I have no desire to learn) and it went down like this:

Dave: Gaetane Thiney! Bonjour! Je n'oublierai jamais lorsque vous dirigé la balle du barbare que géant espère Solo de part. C'était très intelligent et courageux.

Thiney: Merci, je suis flatté que vous comprendrez que jouer.

Dave: Nous pourrions peut-être obtenir un café et un croissant.

Thiney: Oui. Nous pourrions siéger sous la Tour Eiffel. Il est long et dur et instrument phallique.

Dave: Ce serait parfait. Hey, est-ce pas David Sedaris et son petit ami, Hugh? Bonjour David, aimez votre travail. Hi Hugh!

David Sedaris: Hi Dave. J'aime votre travail. Je souhaite Je pourrais écrire sentences ainsi comme vous.

Hugh: Il est vrai. Il Lit Phrase de Dave chaque jour et juste rit et rit. Moi aussi. 

Dave: Merci les gars, vous êtes trop aimable. À bientôt.

Thiney: Dave, je vous trouve très sexy.



And then Abby Wambach's terrific goal snapped me out of my fantasy just before the good part . . .


I have no problem admitting that attractiveness influences my rooting while I'm watching women's athletics. I was far more partial to Gabriella Sabatini than I was to Martina Navratilova. But here is the question I have for the female readers of G:TB: does this make me sexist? Or simply heterosexual? Do women find themselves having the same emotions when they watch men's sports?

I've had no problem rooting for some terrifically ugly male athletes: Patrick Ewing and John Kruk and-- more recently-- Dirk Nowitzki-- but when it comes to watching women play, I can't be so blind to aesthetics. I also admit that when I take a hardcover book out of the library, and the author is female, I sneak a peek at the inside of the back cover to see if the author is cute. I don't do this when it's a male author. So is this wrong? Or is it simply human nature? And then there is the real monkey wrench . . . why does gay ex-pat author David Sedaris and his boyfriend Hugh show up at the end of my fantasy? And why am I so excited that they each paid me a compliment?

Here's a translation of my fantasy conversation, in case your French is as weak as mine.

Dave: Gaetane Thiney! Hello! I'll never forget when you headed the ball out of that barbaric giant Hope Solo's hand. That was very clever and brave.

Thiney: Thank you, I'm flattered that you appreciate that play.

Dave: Perhaps we could get some coffee and a croissant.

Thiney: Yes. We could sit beneath the Eiffel Tower. It is long and hard and phallic.

Dave: That would be perfect. Hey, isn't that David Sedaris and his boyfriend, Hugh? Hi David, love your work. Hi Hugh!

David Sedaris: Hi Dave. I love your work. I wish I could write sentences as well as you.

Hugh: It's true. He reads Sentence of Dave every day and just laughs and laughs. Me too.

Dave: Thanks guys, you're too kind. See you later.

Thiney: Dave, I find you very sexy.


35 comments:

rob said...

tres bien

T.J. said...

Wow.

TR said...

Sports Illustrated was kind enough to do a profile of the women's national team a couple weeks ago, with photos of every player. They pretty much catered to the tastes of Dave, by having large photos of the more asthetically pleasing players, like 21 y/o Alex Morgan, Hope Solo and Amy Rodriguez. Abby Wambach, on the other hand, had a very small photo.

TR said...

Nice spelling, self. I meant aesthetically. Assthetically would have also worked.

Dave said...

i think you should write a post titled "assthetically." it might not be appropriate for this family blog, though.

"catered to the taste of dave"?

the rest of you prefer wambach?

and i won't even go into why i was rooting for the swedes . . .

TR said...

"Catered to the tastes of Dave" meant having larger pictures of the better looking ladies and smaller pictures of the more manly laides. Could also have been "catered to the tastes of traditional heterosexual men."

Geoff said...

So a couple coworkers of mine went to Wolf Trap to see Huey Lewis (and the News!) last evening...and Huey had the big brass balls to only play stuff from his new album, mixed in with a couple of covers. I saw Huey at Wolf trap about three years ago and it was Hip to Be Square, New Drug, Back in Time, and all that schmaltzy bull shit that people plopped down there hard earned cash expecting to hear. What went down last night was a crime.

T.J. said...

Was the commute home a shitshow, like it was when I hit Wolf Trap last month?

Took me 2.5 hrs to get home.

Geoff said...

I don't know...I didn't go. but for sake of this conversation, I'll just say yes...yes it was.

T.J. said...

That will suffice.

Dave said...

i love the fact that huey was playing his new stuff. i hope he's into free form discordant jazz now . . .

Geoff said...

He's into gospel now. I shit you not.

Mark said...

Completely unrelated to any of this, I dislocated my middle finger last night. It's currently about twice it's normal size and 5 different shades of purple. It feels pretty great too.

Geoff said...

Reckless fingerbanging?

Mark said...

Is there any other kind?

T.J. said...

It's Day 2 of the Clemens trial, and we have a possible mistrial on our hands? That lucky fuck.

Jerry said...

I've always wonder what would've happened if Tiger Woods had looked like Jim Furyk. I don't think he's be as popular.

Looks obviously matter for girls sports, but they matter for guys sports as well in a slightly different way. It's not just being attractive, as it is for the ladies, it's some kind of good looks/masculinity hybrid.

Like Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer have very similar games, and are both fairly ugly dudes, but Bosh gets called "soft" (and much worse) far more frequently than Boozer. Part of that is being on the hated Heat, but part of it is also his tiny neck and weak chin compared to Boozer's overall smelly/manly looking appearance.

Basically masculine/good-looking and macho/ugly athletes get bumps in popularity. feminine/good-looking, dweeby/ugly, and pansy/ugly athletes have to overcome their looks.

Dave said...

and the exception to that rule was kurt rambis circa 1983.

Igor said...

That's funny. Snoop Dogg is rapping about fucking people's shit up, and he never gets called "soft" even though he looks identical to Bosh.

rob said...

bosh needs snoop's goatee - that thing is fierce.

and lawyer types, please tell us how badly the prosecution fucked this clemens case up.

zman said...

What does this have to do with Ghostface Killah?

zman said...

It's hard to say rob. The judge apparently stopped the trial of his own accord (or sua sponte if you speak Latin). Clemens' attorneys didn't object to the video so I guess neither side realized that it contained inadmissible evidence. If anything this reflects worse on Clemens' team.

rob said...

latin and french in the same post? jawohl!

Mark said...

Lester Munson said he thought Rusty Harden purposely let the entire tape of Petite's wife's testimony play in order to kill any thoughts that the judge could instruct the jury to disregard the evidence, as he may have done if Harden had objected to the taped testimony right away. I dont know how likely this is. I just know I trust any white man named Lester.

Jerry said...

Rusty is like Donte from The Wire and Clemens is like Milo from The Wire.

T.J. said...

And like Jonas from Post.

Jerry said...

That comment reminds me of Sedrick from The Wire.

T.J. said...

Man, do you remember that really poignant scene late in Season 2, where Vance and Lenny are about to go to blows over the holiday mail? Epic stuff.

Jerry said...

The only thing I could possibly compare it to is the tension between Hector and Eggs over the slush fund in Season 4 of The Wire.

T.J. said...

Ah yes, the classic "Sunny Side Up" episode.

Mark said...

Jerry's pretty cool. I mean, so cool that he doesn't watch things just because lots of other people watch and enjoy them. Like William & Mary's own Skip Bayless.

rob said...

my daughter spontaneously busted out with some tupac this evening. you could've knocked me over with a feather.

Mark said...

Would've been better if it was Biggie. Still pretty great though.

Whitney said...

Those of us who have actually seen Rob know that him being knocked over by a feather is not actually a shocking event. He could be knocked over by the Indian Chief Weeble Wobble's feather. Unlike them, he falls down.

Danimal said...

would you watch women's soccer if they wore helmets hiding their faces? potato sacks? (long ones)
i doubt i would.