Crying, diving, head-butting: My only World Cup post

Stephen Baker

Three points about the World Cup, and then I'll shut up about soccer.

* I hope Zinedine Zidane's vicious head-butt was satisfying to him. I'm betting that it cost him $20 million in endorsements. Until that moment, The French midfielder was positioned to cash in globally on his dignity, grace, superb talent, even Muslim-Christian understanding. He might still win some endorsements in France. But I can't imagine anyone else banking on his sullied image.

* The Times' George Vecsey tells those of us who despise the penalty-kick endings to "get over it." No I won't. Here's my idea: For the 30-minute overtime, take away the goalies' hand privileges. It would still take strong shots to make goals, but goals would be made. It would turn the overtime into an exciting and decisive offensive drama, one involving all 22 players on the field, not just two.

* Jeff Jarvis says that baseball players don't cry. That's not true. All kinds of athletes cry. What's different between soccer and American sports is the expression of pain. Soccer players, especially from Latin countries, feel no apparent shame in writhing and grimacing. It's part of the drama. American athletes, probably feeding off cowboy iconography, pretend not to feel pain. Baseball players make a point of not even rubbing the spot where they got plunked by a 98-mile-per-hour fastball. It's a different aesthetic. (I like opera fine, but when it comes to sports, give me cowboys.)

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