Stuff You Should Know But Probably Didn’t (Japan v. U.S. Olympic Gold Medal Match)

Pretty people get more attention than us ordinary folk. This well-known truth apparently shocks some people. How else do you explain the swirl around Lolo Jones? If you haven’t heard, the New York Times skewered the Olympic hurdler for the attention the media and marketers showered on her even though she hasn’t won (much). The Times even evoked the dreaded “Anna Kournikova” comparison. The paper basically ripped Jones for making money off her looks.

Please.

This is the way it’s always been and the way it always will be. Tom Brady doesn’t get magazine spreads and pictures with goats just because he’s a winner—it’s also because he’s a pretty boy. Nathan Adrian and Cullen Jones have comparable accomplishments in the pool, but Adrian’s been getting more attention because he’s easier on the eye. Shorthanded is convinced that Isaiah Thomas’ sexual harassment and administrative idiocy at the New York Knicks didn’t get more attention in part because he’s got a great smile.

Truth is we’d all rather watch and read about pretty people. Hardcore science researchers from famous universities have found that when you ask people to rate pictures of strangers, attractive people are judged to be friendlier, smarter, more trustworthy, and more intelligent than average looking people.

The preference for good looking people is probably even hardwired. Researchers have discovered that infants will stare longer at pictures of attractive people than pictures of ordinary faces. We have and always will shower more attention on pretty people.

Heck, Shorthanded succumbed to our humanity while watching the U.S. take on Japan in today’s gold medal match. Just like little babies, we found ourselves staring longer at Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, and—off the bench—the sneaky underrated Sydney Leroux than at other players. We make no apologies. (You don’t think women watch swimming for more than just pool prowess?)

There was one exception: Abby “The Warrior” Wambach (we just made that nickname up). She’s dangerous, transfixing, and the ultimate competitor. She won’t be posing for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit any time soon (like her teammate Morgan).

But dammit Wambach’s good. In fact, Wambach’s so good this Olympics she’s been getting the most media attention of all. Forget the feigned horror at Lolo Jones, New York Times. One of your writers should write about the mega attention paid to Abby Wambach in spite of her non-model looks. That, friends, is a bigger surprise.

Here are a few more random thoughts on today’s Japan v. U.S. gold medal soccer match:

#1 The U.S. coach, Pia Sundhage, is totally not an American and no one cares.

We wrote about the hubub in England about the English men’s team needing an English coach. The clamor for a homegrown coach in England carried a touch of xenophobia and elitism. It’s much that way in soccer countries around the world.

“Give the job to one of our citizens!” is the cry. “Our coaches know what’s best for our players. Plus, our players will only listen to someone who understands our culture.”

Here in the mixing pot that’s the States, few people have raised an eyebrow even though our women’s national coach, Sundhage, is Swedish and our men’s coach, Jürgen Klinsmannn, is German.

Shorthanded likes to think that’s because Americans want the best people for the job no matter what country they’re from. We’re a nation of immigrants; we’ll accept anyone to our shores so long as they want to make us better. That’s not to say the U.S. is less provincial than other countries, but, unlike many places we’re happy to abandon our home bias if it’s to our advantage. That’s pretty cool.

#2  Japan could easily have won, but the U.S. got the lucky breaks and a little help from the ref.

Japan dominated possession (58%) and had nearly as many shots on goal as the U.S. (5 v. 6). Japan looked more comfortable on the ball and repeatedly carved up the U.S. defense with clever passes. The problem was the ball just wouldn’t go into the back of the net. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo made a few incredible saves and the bounces, rebounds, and ricochets just wouldn’t go Japan’s way.

Worst of all there was a clear hand ball by the Americans early in the game that would have given Japan a penalty kick and, perhaps, 1-1 tie. There may not be a ref conspiracy in favor of the U.S., but outside the non-call on the Tancredi stomp on Carli Lloyd’s head in the U.S.-Canada game, the U.S. has gotten the benefit of the calls.

That’s not to take away from the U.S. women. That’s just to say that when you look closely at the difference between “champion” and “also ran,” you notice that the line is often drawn with the letters L-U-C-K.

#3 The U.S. soccer coaches had a fashion fail.

While watching the match Shorthanded noticed something. Check this out.

Got that? The jacket’s a bit garish, but otherwise he’s dressed like your regular old sports coach. Now take a gander at this:

Yup. That’s a giant pink bib. Normally these are worn by the bench players, but for some reason the American coach wore one the whole game. For god’s sake, why?

In case you think this is just a mad Swedish woman doing some kind of wacky Swedish thing, check this out.

Was the pink bib a requirement by the International Olympic Committee? If so why wasn’t it imposed on Japan’s coaching staff? Was it a U.S. team requirement and, if so, why would one willingly put on a hideous stain catcher if you don’t have to?

Wearing a substitutes bib when you don’t have to is like wearing a fur coat in the Bahamas or a doggy cone of shame whenever. Someone needs to explain this.

Where’s a hard all those hitting journalist when you need ‘em?

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2 Responses to Stuff You Should Know But Probably Didn’t (Japan v. U.S. Olympic Gold Medal Match)

  1. Alan says:

    In Lolo’s defense, being that good looking AND making it to your 30th birthday is an accomplishment on par with winning a freaking Olympic gold medal. I mean, which is harder: jumping a hurdle or dodging all the “hurdles” trying to jump you?

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