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PostThe Hand of God v. the Hands of Tyson (David Duggan, USA, 12/01/20 3:41 am)
My profound apologies to my WAISdom admiring public for not having commented on the death of Diego Maradona, whose "hand of God" goal against England in the 1986 World Cup will go down as one of the great all-time athletic rip-offs, rivaling the bungled call at first base in game 6 of the 1985 Cardinals-Royals World Series. Admittedly both plays were close and were decided before replay review, but unlike the World Series call, where the umpire was right there and just blew it, in the World Cup game the ref was nowhere in the picture, and may have been screened from seeing whether it was Diego's head or hand that impelled the ball past the English goalkeep.
Of significance, however, and with due respect to the half of the world that actually gives a s*%# about soccer (channeling former GE CEO Jeff Immelt--a standout offensive tackle at Dartmouth), the "beautiful game" suffers not only from a refereeing deficit (the lowest ratio of refs to competitors of any sport played on a field), but it places too much emphasis on legs rather than hands in rewarding athletic prowess. Beyond the scope of this post, the differentiation between hand-based sports (anything with a stick-and-ball, archery, boxing) and leg-based sports (soccer, track, cycling) is partially cultural (England v. the Continent), and partially a function of how sport is viewed: whether it is pure diversion or whether it has consequences for a people. Put another way, the issue might be divided between sport for the plebes, and sport for the patricians. God willing, I'll explicate later.
More significant this weekend was the pitty-pat fest between Iron Mike Tyson and Roy Jones, Jr. in the original field of battle: a boxing ring. For eight two-minute rounds, these 50-somethings pawed at each other with over-sized gloves, neither landing anything approximating a punishing blow. Tyson was clearly the aggressor, but his shots landed to the outside of Jones' mitts. Though Iron Mike looked pretty ripped for his first fight in 15 years, gone was his devastating "inside game" where he worked between his opponent's arms, following body blows with a lift-him-off-the-canvas uppercut. The 1988 Seoul Olympic heavyweight champ, Jones artfully covered up and clinched and after 16 minutes of pugilistic boredom the three ringside refs awarded a "split-decision draw." Under the incomprehensible "10-point must" scoring system (the winner of the round has to get 10 points, the loser anything up to 9), one had the match at even--each winning 4 rounds, another had Tyson winning seven rounds and the third had Jones winning all of them. It had all the making of a fix and I'm surprised that Dominion was not in the midst of the vote tallying. Snoop Dogg, the most trenchant boxing analyst since Howard Cosell, had it right when he said it was like two uncles fighting at a barbecue (expletive deleted).
As if we didn't have enough already to worry about, this past weekend was bereft of "rivalry games" in college football. No Michigan-Ohio State, no Purdue-Indiana, no Northwestern-Illinois (for what was once called the "Sweet Sioux Tomahawk," now it's just the idiotic "Land of Lincoln" trophy). Northwestern, ranked 11th in the country before its non-rivalry game against 2-3 Michigan State managed to lose to the Spartans 29-20, which given the Blues' and Lions' dismal performances of late may be the best football team in Michigan (though the 3-1 Chippewas of Central Michigan of the Mid-America Conference probably have an equal claim to the title).
Can 2020 end too soon?
JE comments: It's been a historic drought in the sports world, certainly. 2020: The Year of the Asterisk. At least the * helps us Michiganders to cope with the humiliation of one defeat after another.