clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Neutral Chronicles: The time I (kinda) witnessed an olimpico in person

What do you call it when you see something, but your brain can't process it properly?

"Did I really just do that?" "Dunno, man. Everything happened so fast."
"Did I really just do that?" "Dunno, man. Everything happened so fast."
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I happened to see an olimpico this past weekend, and it was glorious.

Ok, so I saw it, but I didn't exactly know what was happening. I thought another player headed the ball in the net, not that it had been a direct corner kick goal. But I still saw it. Kinda. Like my eyes saw it but didn't process it as such when watching live.

I'm talking, of course, about Michael Bradley's goal for the U.S. Men's National Team against Panama on Sunday, a game I was fortunate enough to watch in person, and was therefore able to see the awesome goal live (kinda).

Here's a video of the goal in case you missed it, or wanted to see it again:

When I say that I love olimpicos, I love them. They require considerable skill and a bit of luck, they are rare (I can think of two off the top of my head in recent years in MLS, and can't immediately recall any from European leagues) and they are goals.

There was an article that was much shared a couple months back, about how some NFL players had grown up playing soccer and how it was helping them play American football. While it's a worthy topic to write about, this paragraph left me wondering if the writer knew much at all about soccer:

Suh, who is 6 feet 4 and 305 pounds, physically outgrew soccer. But in his youth, he was famous for his ability to score off corner kicks and his "banana" kick, which goes over and then dips behind a bewildered goalkeeper. Suh still demonstrates it in pickup games and in football warm-ups.

THE WRITER GLOSSES OVER NDAMUKONG SUH'S ABILITY TO SCORE DIRECTLY FROM CORNER KICKS! HE INSTEAD EMPHASIZES A SKILL THAT IS ALSO IMPRESSIVE BUT IS DONE FAR MORE OFTEN! I'LL STOP SHOUTING IN A SECOND BUT I THINK HE THINKS THAT IF A SKILL IS NAMED AFTER A FRUIT IT IS MORE IMPRESSIVE!

Anyway, the reason I bring up all this about olimpicos is because it got me thinking about watching soccer live as opposed to watching it on television or other electronic devises. I watch most of my soccer remotely, and realize there are pros and cons to both settings.

Watching Live:

  • Pro: You can look at whatever you want on the field
  • Pro: You can see more than what's on TV, and get to see stuff that the cameras miss
  • Pro: Spectators are a part of the atmosphere, and are right up close to the action
  • Con: Only good things for the home team are usually shown on stadium replays - anything controversial or negative is ignored
  • Con: Depending on where you sit, your visibility or capability of seeing the game unfold can be impacted
Watching on TV:
  • Pro: Generally, the TV cameras pick up the important details
  • Pro: TV shows replays; can also go back in time and show things that may have been missed live
  • Pro/Con: Depending on who's doing it, having an announcing crew can enhance/detract from the experience
I find an eerie phenomenon exists when I watch any soccer game live, either as a fan or for work: I feel a moment of panic after most goals have been scored. This is true regardless of the team doing the scoring. Why do I feel panic? Because I may have missed what actually happened, who scored and who set it up. Since stadium replays are not consistent, I worry that my brain won't be able to properly recall what just happened, and instead of crowing about this goal or that I brag about seeing live (I never do this, by the way, even if I do have a few that I remember well), I doubt my brain's ability to process life at the speed of soccer.



In contrast, even if I missed what exactly happened on a goal for a game I'm watching from home, I never panic, because the reassurance that a replay is coming up in 10 seconds or so soothes me. I'm sure scientists have done studies on this, but it's pretty obvious my brain is completely trained to watch sports by television. My mind is comforted by the camera directing my attention to where it ought to go, by the upcoming replay (not just one, oh no, but many, perhaps even dozens if this is a Liga MX game), and by the verbal analysis I can either nod along approvingly to, or disparage in my mind for being completely wrong.

Don't get me wrong, it's fun to watch soccer live, and I very much enjoy doing it. But if there was no media at the U.S.-Panama game on Sunday, if all of us in attendance had no replays to watch, probably a lot of us would have figured Jozy Altidore had scored a fine goal off a corner, nothing special, instead of the magical direct corner kick goal that was rightfully Michael Bradley's. I certainly would have. I may be way too far inside my own head here, but it's enough to make you wonder what else you may not be seeing accurately when you're watching a game, live or at home.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!