If you enjoy the most popular sport in the universe, soccer, you were probably glued to your TV on Monday, August 6 as the Canadian women’s team took on their archrivals from the United States in the 2012 Olympics.
The girls were playing for the right to take on Japan in the gold medal match on August 9 with both sides wanting desperately to win.
The two teams have gone at it a number of times with the Americans almost always coming out on top. The US girls were heavily favoured to win this time around too as they are the number one ranked team in the world.
But the Canadian girls, under the leadership of coach John Herdman and player Christine Sinclair, are playing much better than previously, and they seem to have a more determined attitude to win.
The Canadian girls played tough against the Americans and were leading 3 to 2 up to the 80th minute of the game.
They could sense victory now with just 10 minutes left to play. Their dream of upsetting the mighty Americans was about to become true and they would compete for a gold medal for Canada.
And then fate intervened or rather the referee intervened and changed what was a fantastic game forever memorable for all the wrong reasons.
The referee, Christina Pedderson, awarded the Americans an indirect kick just 15 yards from the Canadian net on a rare, if-ever, called violation of the six-second rule (the time in which goalkeepers are supposed to get rid of the ball after gaining possession).
That in itself was bad enough but in the kick the ball inadvertently hit a Canadian girl’s hand and the referee now made the inexplicable call of awarding a penalty shot.
The Americans tied the game and went on to win the contest in overtime.
Now, can you imagine how devasted the Canadians were following the game? Just imagine, you work and train hard for all those years just to get to the Olympics and now you have a legitimate chance to make it to a gold medal match.
These sporting opportunities are rare and may only come once in a lifetime. To be robbed of that opportunity by a referee is totally wrong.
The Olympic officials will later write the records of the 2012 Olympics in some book or something. When they list the silver or gold medal by the America women’s soccer team, they should put an asterisk by that.
Whatever medal the Americans win it will be tarnished and tainted by unsportsmanlike behavior on the part of the American girl who called attention to the referee on the amount of time Canadian keeper Erin McLeod was in possession of the ball.
The medal win just won’t be the same for the Americans and maybe the Canadian girls can take some solace in that.
Of course, cases of unsportsmanlike behavior happen in sports on different occasions.
Take the 1993 Stanley Cup win by the Montreal Canadiens for example. The Los Angeles Kings had won the first game in the finals and were leading in the second contest when Montreal coach Jacques Demers called attention to a referee that Mary McSorley’s stick may have an illegal curve.
Now, the Canadiens could have asked for that particular call any time during the game. But no, they waited until there were about five minutes left in the third period, McSorley got a penalty for unsportsmanlike beahviour, the Canadiens tied the game in the ensuing power play and won the game in overtime.
The Canadiens went on to win the cup in six games. When someone writes a history of the NHL and they list the 1993 Stanley Cup win by the Canadiens they should put an asterisk by that.
The same thing might apply with sports records. Take the most home runs in a season by a player.
Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in the 1927 season which only had 154 games. Roger Maris hit 61 home runs in 1961 but the season was 162 games in length then.
Besides, Ruth hit 160 home runs in only 540 at bats while Maris did it in 590 at bats.
So, with 540 at bats Ruth was hitting a home run in every nine trips to the plate. If he was given those extra 50 at bats that Maris had he could have hit at least another five home runs.
The point is, no player has ever or will ever top Ruth’s home run title in 540 at bats.
So, when some writer lists Maris’ 61 home runs as being the record, they should put an asterisk by that.
(Of course, several players since 1961 have shattered the 61 home run mark but many people don’t recognize those numbers for a number of reasons)