Roy Exum: Writhing At The World Cup

Thursday, June 26, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

From every indication it appears the FIFA World Cup Soccer extravaganza has finally become as big in the United States as it has been in the rest of the world for years. Ever since I can remember soccer has languished as “American football” has become our biggest sport but – at long last – the 2014 games are attracting record throngs of viewers and fans. I think that’s wonderful.

But the sport of soccer isn’t perfect, as the prestigious Wall Street Journal pointed out in its Wednesday editions. In a hysterical story that highlighted the “World Rankings of Flopping,” some fun-loving editors loaded the first 32 games that were played in this year’s event into a DVR and meticulously charted “writhing time.” Soccer has some weird statistics but “writhing time” is a hoot.

This is where the game stops for an injured player, although the clock continues. Staff writer Geoff Porter delightfully writes, “All too often during matches, seemingly fit men fall to the ground in agony. They scream, pound the grass with their fists and gesture to the sidelines for a stretcher. Some of them clutch a limb as if it has just been pulled from a wood chipper. But after a few moments, just as priests arrive to administer Last Rites, they sit up on the gurney, shake it off, rise to their feet and run back on the field to play some more.”

Watch any game and you’ll find the phenomenon is true. In the first 32 games, WSJ staffers counted 302 players who claimed to be hurt. Never mind just nine were eventually hauled away on stretchers. Brazil had the most “injuries” in two opening games with 17 incidents that accounted for three minutes and 18 seconds of writhing time. Chile was 16 (6:58) and third was Honduras with 15 injuries that took up a whopping seven minutes and 40 seconds to collectively heal. Nigeria and Mexico also had 15 injuries each, Nigeria making a better 6:25 disappear on the clock than Mexico’s 3:58.

The United States? We were seventh on the list of the 32 teams with 12 incidents that clicked onward for six minutes and 24 seconds.

Many fans and even opponents feel these injuries might well be called “embellishments” instead. This theory is strengthened by the WSJ’s finding that players who were injured when their team was losing accounted for a total of 40 injuries and 12.5 minutes of collective writhing whereas teams that were winning – and needed to run the clock – had 103 injuries and – ah ha – did four times as much writhing as players that were losing.

The delightful story included the Wall Street Journal’s first-ever international soccer injury-embellishment awards and here they are, along with the writer’s comments:

THE TEAM MOST COMMONLY SEEN IN ANGUISH – BRAZIL: There were 17 incidents in two games when a member of Team Selecao was seen on the ground in pain – the most of any country. World Cup poster boy Neymar had five such injuries, the most on any team. In every case, he was back on his feet within 15 seconds.

THE OVERALL WRITHING CHAMPION – HONDURAS: Team Los Catrachos spent more of the team on the ground or being tended to by trainers: seven minutes and 40 seconds to be exact. Naturally, five minutes and 10 seconds of that came in the first half against France when the match was tied (which would have been good enough for them.)

TEAM MOST LIKELY TO GRIN AND BEAR IT – BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA: These World Cup newbies obviously don’t get how this works. They only had two “injuries” in two games for a total of 24 seconds of writhing time.

THE TEAM WITH THE MOST CARNAGE IN ONE GAME – CHILE: While they protected an early lead again Spain, the Chileans tallied 11 “injuries,” more than 24 other teams had in two games.

THE FASTEST INJURY YET – ENNER VALENCIA, ECUADOR: Against Honduras, Valenica was on the ground, clutching his leg after four seconds.

WORST USE OF A STRETCHER – FIVE PLAYERS (TIE): Of the nine players actually carried off on a stretcher, five returned – all in less than 90 seconds, including American DaMarcus Beasley.

royexum@aol.com



Rep. Deffenbaugh: Week 7 Legislative Report

On Tuesday, February 21, the House reconvened for another lively week under the Gold Dome. where we were hard at work drafting, discussing and passing legislation to address important issues facing our great state. With Crossover Day coming up next week, my colleagues and I worked longer hours this week to thoroughly review key pieces of legislation and passed several bills on the ... (click for more)

Dialogue Is Needed - And Response (2)

On Feb.  24, approximately 300 citizens showed up at the downtown public library for a Town Meeting.  No elected officials attended or sent representatives. Most of the officals did send responses indicating that they were unable to attend. I moved to Chattanooga in the 1970's.I have seen progress in improving health,education,minority relations and ... (click for more)

Signal School Study Says Under Own School System Much More Could Go To The Classroom; Lennon Says Getting Land, Buildings A Major Issue

A panel studying a new school system operated by Signal Mountain concluded that much more money could go directly into the classroom, helping students further increase their potential.   However, County School Board member Kathy Lennon said how the town would be able to acquire the land and buildings is a major issue.   A group of Signal Mountain residents ... (click for more)

Man, 39, Shot Late Friday Night In The Vicinity Of North Chamberlain Avenue

Police said a 39-year-old man was shot late Friday night in the vicinity of North Chamberlain Avenue.   He was identified as Ruben Williams Sr.   Officers with the Chattanooga Police Department were informed just before midnight that a shooting victim arrived at a local hospital via personal vehicle.   Officers made contact with the victim who advised ... (click for more)

McCallie Advances To D-II Final Four With 67-48 Win

The third time wasn’t the charm for the Pope John Paul II Knights. Playing at McCallie in the quarterfinal round of the Division II state basketball tournament Saturday night, the Knights played better than they had the previous two times they met, but the result was the same as McCallie advanced to the Final Four with a 67-48 victory. McCallie, snipping a three-game losing ... (click for more)

'Canes Roll Past Stone Memorial 62-38 In Region 3-3A Action

East Hamilton was able to shake off a devastating 30-point loss to Cleveland in the District 5-3A championship game earlier in the week and Stone Memorial was victimized by the Hurricanes’ big bounce-back. East Hamilton held the visitors scoreless in the first quarter and went on to shellack the Panthers 62-38 in a history-making victory on its home court Saturday night. ... (click for more)