Ramble On Sports

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A World Cup glossary, Ramble On style

Posted by Bill Koch on June 13, 2010

World Cup

At times we feel the need to provide a public service at Ramble On to thank our loyal readers, and it’s that responsibility that’s inspiring this post today.

In case you haven’t heard by now, the 2010 World Cup is well underway in South Africa. All the advertising on ESPN and ABC might have given it away, as did this ridiculous assertion by John Harkes that the USA-England match was 10-times as important as the current NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. We think that our hearing must have been compromised by the incessant sound of vuvuzelas or that Harkes might have been in a pub somewhere with the England hooligans before the match.

Anyway, we digress. We’re here today to provide you with a small glossary of soccer terms that you might hear over the next month. The only people who would understand them in this country likely follow the action that goes on across the Atlantic from August to May, so we’ll help out those who might be new to the game.

— Howler
There’s no need for us to use words to explain this one. We’ll let England goalkeeper Robert Green and his butterfingers do the talking for us:

That is a first-class, A-1, top-of-the-list howler. Green will never be the same again. There’s nothing he can do short of starting in the final and helping England win on penalty kicks to erase this permanent stain from his résumé.

— Class
The soccer folks don’t use this word the way we typically do. Simply call to mind Steven Gerrard’s goal against the Americans on Saturday – that’s class in the soccer sense of class. In fact, most people would say that Gerrard himself is class. You get the idea.

— Shambolic
One of our favorites, and it usually describes unorganized defenders who are powerless to stop opposing strikers from finding the back of the net. Teams that are guilty of shambolic defending are destined to be tourists in South Africa and not serious contenders for advancement out of the group stages. Chile, New Zealand and The Netherlands are three likely examples.

— Simulation
Simply put, it’s diving. You’ll see plenty of instances of this, and it’s all meant to deceive the referee and cheapen the game. Just watch Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal for 90 minutes or any striker from Honduras, France, Ivory Coast, Italy or Brazil to see simulation at its best.

— Martin Tyler
His is the soothing voice that you hear as the lead play-by-play man for ESPN and ABC – enjoy it while it lasts. We’ll be back to screaming fools who don’t allow NBA or Major League Baseball games breathe before too long. For now, enjoy Tyler’s effortless command of the stage, his wealth of knowledge and his accent.


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