Showing posts with label Soccer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Soccer. Show all posts

Friday, July 3, 2015

Hope Springs Eternal

Watching the US beat Colombia 2-0, China 1-0, and then Germany 2-0 in the Women's World Cup one may feel proud just as I was proud watching Lance Armstrong only to find out later that he was a fraud or Detroit Tiger fans rooting for Ty Cobb at the turn of the century only to find out later that he was an abusive racist.  We love to put our heroes on pedestals and are shocked when we find out the truth and don't want to believe it (the "say if ain't so Joe" effect).

Hope Solo, the US goalkeeper who has only allowed one goal so far may lead the US team to their first WC win since 1999.  She is accused of assaulting her half sister and her nephew last summer and had a restraining order placed against her as a senior in high school.  The evidence against her seems strong in the video clip at the top of the post.  The Rachel Maddow has been cheering the US women on her blog and her show with no mention of Solo's legal troubles while she criticized the NFL for it's lackadaisical response to the domestic abuse of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.  

Reliable statistics on domestic violence can be hard to come by especially when victims do not want to come forward.  The studies that have been done suggest that women are victims more often than men.  One study estimates that 1.5 million women and 834,732 men are victims annuallyWomen can be abusers of children and their partners, again probably to a lesser extent than men.  There may be a cultural bias that women cannot be abusers like men are

FIFA (the governing body of world soccer with many of it's leaders under indictment for corruption) and US Soccer also doesn't want to punish Solo because she is one of their major stars.  She is one of women's soccer's few money makers in endorsements and merchandising. 

The male game in soccer and the NFL has many stars who can take the place of one bad apple like Ray Rice. The women's game is trying to increase interest throughout the world.  FIFA head Sepp Blatter has talked about improving the profile of the women's game by giving them tighter fitting clothes.  With the right public pressure NFL commissioner Roger Goodell did the right thing with respect to domestic abusing players in his league.  What will it take for women's soccer?


The  US women's team defeated Japan 5-2 in the World Cup Final.  It had the largest US TV audience ever for a soccer game.  The US team was only paid a fraction of the men's World Cup winning team, Germany.  It's pretty clear that the US could not have made it to the final without Hope Solo.  The win at all costs mentality prevails.

The domestic violence charges against Solo have been reinstated.

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sports Stats Boring?

I thought I would take a break from the SCOTUS healthcare feeding frenzy.  There is plenty written about it on the PUSH blog.  Last Monday I was watching the Colbert Report when dapper sports writer Frank Deford was on promoting his book.  One thing he said got my attention: "The worst thing that happened to sports writing is its overwhelmed by statistics and the worst thing that happened is that (movie) Moneyball is all about numbers and numbers when it should be about blood and guts...Brad Pitt was nominated but it was as tedious as soccer is."

As Italy prepares to play Spain in the European Championships tomorrow I have a few comments.  Soccer or Calcio as it's called in Italy or football as it's called in the rest of the world is a sport that until recently been relatively bereft of statistics relative to American sports outside of goals and fouls (including yellow cards, red cards and offsides).  Baseball on the other hand has been loaded with statistics ever since the beginning when Alexander Cartwright modified it in the 19th century (Abner Doubleday had nothing to do with the game). 

Baseball Guy Brad Pitt and Numbers Guy Jonah Hill in Moneyball
I haven't seen Moneyball but would like to.  Deford has a point that just presenting numbers is dry and it's important to show the human side of those numbers.  Joseph Stalin once said "one death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic."  It's important to shine a light on the 'million deaths' and on the tragedy whether it be metaphorical in sports or literal in other spheres of life.  This blog tries to do both by not showing just dry statistics and also by showing the larger picture with statistics.  Sometimes sports statistics provides valuable illustration of phenomena in the natural world as is the case with Barry Sanders running style and global warning.


Italy lost to Spain 4-0 and I saw Moneyball last night. There wasn't a lot of statistics in the film or the game. The game was dull because it was a rout. The movie was mostly about Pitt agonizing over going with Jonah Hill's algorithm rather than the old school scouting methods of baseball. It might have been more interesting for me and for Deford if they had focused more on the game and the numbers rather than Pitt's emotions. 

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