Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ref like a Girl

Youtube exploded early this week with the audio recording of two English soccer sportscasters, Andy Gray and Richard Keys, whose conversation about a female linesman was inadvertently recorded before a Liverpool vs Wolverampton game on Saturday. Before the game had even started, this is what they said about 25 year old female linesman Sian Massey:

Keys: Somebody better get down there and explain offside to her.

Gray: Can you believe that? A female linesman. Women don’t know the offside rule.

Keys: Didn’t we have (a female linesman) before? Wendy Toms?

Gray: Yeah. She was f*&^%$ ing hopeless as well.

Keys: The game’s gone mad.

Initially each received a one game suspension for their remarks. Interestingly, Sian Massey herself, who made fans angry over a tough offside call during the game but was later vindicated by replay footage, was also asked to suspend her referring duties for a game, due to the controversy created by Gray and Keys.

Why’d they have to go and say that? And why did all the bloggers and commenters supporting the sportscasters have to say stuff like “Yeah, they were right, women should stay in the kitchen where they belong!” They are, by association, helping ruin reputations everywhere for the good guys who support women in sport—the dads who get their hands dirty every Sunday morning putting up nets for their daughter’s teams; for the ones who play goalie in the backyard even though they’re tired and would rather be inside, flaked out, while their daughters take shots at them; even for the ones I play with who pass to me and the other women during pickup games without hesitation. Both Gray and Keys have kids. Can’t they see how young and nervous Massey looks out there in her first big outing as a premier league linesman? Couldn’t they have given her a chance, before assuming without having seen her work, that she is ‘hopeless as well’?

Despite a shoddy apology in which Gray says “I am very sorry that certain comments made by me have caused offence,” he has now been sacked by Sky Sports, because of additional footage of him behaving inappropriately towards a female co-worker last month. Richard Keys resigned today.

Good riddance. Keys says he apologized directly to Sian Massey and they ‘enjoyed some banter’ and ‘left on good terms’. If that’s true, she’s a better woman than I am. If it were me, I would find it hard not to mention the widely reported fact that he has such freakishly hairy hands he has sought laser treatment to remove it. “Really, now Keys,” I would say. “You had to pay for its removal? I am surprised the hair doesn’t just wear off when you drag your knuckles on the ground, walking around.”

But Mrs. Kelly Cates, a former Sky Sports newscaster herself who now works for ESPN said it best. Yesterday on Twitter she posted “Phew. Am exhausted. Just read about something called “the offside rule”. Too much for my tiny brain. Must be damaged from nail polish fumes.”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sass Squat

How many squats is each person allotted to do in their lifetime? A bajillion? Whatever the number, I know I must be over the amount from the sheer volume of them that I have to do at physio. Since I’m over my quota, life has obviously decided to exact its revenge on me. That must be the reason it hurts so much the day after I do them...

A day after physio squats, sitting on the toilet is such an adventure, that all I can do is stand in front of it, aim my butt for the seat, and free fall, hoping for the best. I start to wonder why couches aren’t made, you know, taller. When I walk around, I know I look exactly like Wile E Coyote after an anvil has been dropped on his head and he has turned into an accordion, but I have only one fold, and it is in my middle, from oversquatting. If I listen carefully, I think I can hear my muscles make that strained, wheezy, accordion sound.

Hmm...wait- which part of soccer involves the squat, exactly? I’ve been playing for 30 years or so, and I don’t remember soccer involving squats at all. Is this just some elaborate ruse? Perhaps it is preparing me for nothing more than a rousing game of musical chairs. Is my physiotherapist snickering at me behind my back? Let’s see if I can make her do more!

You know what? Even if I find out it is just for musical chairs, I am still going to kick someone’s ass at it. It could be yours. Watch out.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Soccer Stalker

The first time I went out driving by myself after my knee operation it was a Monday night, and I found myself driving by the soccer field to watch my friends play under the lights. Since I still limped pretty badly at that point, I didn’t go on the field itself-- I felt self conscious and I didn’t want to have to answer a million questions about everything, plus it was dark and uneven in that parking lot-- so I just stayed in the car, watching them play.

Stalking, some people would call it.

Not stalking those stinky boys I used to play with, god, no—stalking soccer itself. It was so beautiful. They ran up and down the field under the lights, passing so smoothly, chesting and heading the ball, running back to defend, laughing and mocking each other for missing perfect opportunities....and all I could think was I used to be able to do this too. Much slower of course, and more ungainly and inelegantly, but still. Soccer is so pure. It really is lovely to watch.

Fine, okay, fine, fine. I might miss those stinky boys a little bit as well. They used to ease off on me just the exact right amount when I defended against them, so that I didn’t feel like a charity case. They didn’t hesitate to pass to me right in front of the net, when they could so often just have scored themselves. One night, when I scored twice, they practically fell over themselves trying to help me get a hat-trick.

But I’m pissed at them too....Monday night soccer has since folded, from low attendance. Couldn’t they have kept it going exactly as it had always been, perhaps pining for me a little, but waiting for my triumphant return? Don’t they realize that I am getting ready to come back and be even more badass than before?

Of course, there is a very real possibility that it hasn’t folded at all. Perhaps it has simply moved to a more secret location because one of them saw me out there in my car, all stalker-like, and now they’re all freaked out.

See, what did I tell you? Badass.

Friday, January 7, 2011

#@$%^ Kristine Lilly

I read on twitter yesterday that a 39 year old woman named Kristine Lilly was retiring from professional soccer in the U.S. What?! 39?! Turns out she played on the U.S. National Team for 24 years, and since she has played for them since she was 16, she is both the youngest and the oldest player to ever score for them. Dang. Even though I don’t know who she is, I dislike her already.

Before I delved into the wealth of information on Ms. Lilly, the envious, competitive part of me was already consoled by the idea that since she was so busy playing all that soccer, she has probably missed out on a lot of real life stuff that I have done—you know, education, marriage, kids—all that rewarding kind of crap. I figured she probably had a thick, crop-duster moustache, and no boobs. I figured she wasn’t retiring so much as quitting and that she probably had to now get a regular job, probably at Home Depot. Perhaps cleaning the bathrooms.


Kristine Lilly has a bachelors degree in communications, is married to a cute fireman in Boston, and has a lovely two year old daughter. She is a pretty, petite, five foot four blonde with no moustache in sight. She has done commercials for Gatorade and works with a number of charitable organizations and has a soccer camp for young girls in her hometown every summer. When she retires she plans to do more writing. And most importantly she has never had any significant injuries of any kind in her long, illustrious career. (Even the New York Times seemed startled that she has never had ACL injuries, which are practically an epidemic amongst female soccer players.) Grrrr.

It was at this point, when I was trolling her website and silently scowling at photos of her amazing playing that Steve came in and asked what was wrong. I explained all about Kristine Lilly. “Look. She even knows how to French-braid hair.” I complained. “I never learned how to do that.”

“Yes, but does she know how to french kiss?” Steve teased, after seeing her picture.

I glared at him. “Obviously." I retorted. "She has a kid.”

Steve paused for a second and then said “Is that how you get kids?”