Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Dancing on the Pitch

The atmosphere is supercharged. Fight songs and chants fill the air. A bobbing mass of humanity is ready to explode. And a goal is the match that will light the fire.

In one incandescent moment, the goal and the post-game exultation is what the sport really is about --- a celebration of life. Goals literally and figuratively are hard to come by (with the exception of a few ghastly international matches such as one where Australia lobotomized Samoa by a score of 31-0; an unbelievable score that resembles one of those Super Bowl routs) so when one is able to achieve them then a show and a shout, jump, and maybe a dance step or two are in the offing. But in soccer, those post-goal celebrations can be really wacky, crazy, amusing, not to mention highly creative.

FIFA has cracked down on post-goal celebrations to lessen the unsportsmanlike behavior that oft leads to retaliations and fights.

While we may have seen an end to it, what follows are a few examples of some of the strangest, funniest, insulting, and weirdest post-goal celebrations.

Brandi Chastain, USA (vs. China 1999 Women’s World Cup)
After scoring the tourney-winning goal, Chastain ran across the pitch, removed her jersey to reveal nothing but her sports bra. Somehow, Chastain is more remembered for the strip than her goal.

Paul Gascoigne, England (vs. Scotland Euro ’96 Championship)
After dispatching their ancient rivals with a big-time goal, Gascoigne lay on his back while his teammates grabbed water bottles from the sidelines and poured its contents into his mouth. This was in reference to a pre-tourney incident inside a nightclub where players were photographed while having alcoholic beverages poured down their throats.

Nwankwo Kanu, Nigeria (vs. Brazil 1996 Olympics)
After equalizing with Brazil 3-3 with less than 2 minutes left in the match, the Super Eagles went into extra time with renewed vigor and resolve. Kanu who scored the equalizer, blasted in an eighteen-footer to turn back the tourney favorites. Kanu ran off to Nigeria’s side of the pitch like a new-born calf learning how to walk. The rest of the Nigerian team followed suit. To the people watching, they all thought it was some Nigerian tribal dance. But the truth is Kanu felt his legs go rubbery that he had a difficult time walking upright.

Ahn Jung Hwan, South Korea (vs. USA 2002 World Cup)
After drawing with the highly-fancied US eleven with time running down, Hwan ran around mimicking a speed skater – a not so subtle dig at American Olympian Apolo Anton Ohno, who was awarded a gold medal in a skating competition after a Korean skater was disqualified.

Finidi George, Nigeria, (vs. Greece, 1994 World Cup)
After George scored the goal against Greece that sent the Super Eagles to the second round, he got down on all fours and crawled around the penalty box occasionally cocking a leg in the style of a dog marking his territory.

Jurgen Klinsmann, Tottenham Hotspurs
Fans didn’t take to Klinsmann right off the bat as they had long memories of this sleek German tornado crushing England’s hopes on the pitch time and again. After scoring his very first goal – and it was a game-wining one at that – Klinsmann ran around with his arms spread like an eagle’s then flung himself spread-eagled on the ground. That post-game celebration is copied and imitated in every corner of the globe up to this day.

This World Cup is shaping to be one of the most exciting in recent years. We’ve seen the first ever own-goal decide a match’s outcome and tiny Trinidad and Tobago hold the world’s highest scoring offense to a scoreless draw. There are a lot more matches to be played; more awesome goals to be scored that will spawn a thousand highlights to forever be etched in our memories.

And so will the post-goal celebrations that follow.

No comments:

Post a Comment