Gabriele Marcotti tries to make the point on Soccernet that Liverpool FC’s Luis Suarez should have admitted his handball against Mansfield Town to the referees, if only to improve his reputation:
Suarez has a poor reputation in England, as evidenced by the fact that his propensity to go down easily means that, at times, he gets fouled and officials don’t give him the benefit of the doubt. This was a missed opportunity to polish his image a little bit, without any great cost or inconvenience to him. And, referees being what they are, you can’t help but feel that the next time there’s a controversial handball incident involving him, they’ll come down harder than they would otherwise.
Bollocks. Suarez has come so far in his role as villain that were he to have tried to give the goal back, the futbol intelligentsia would have cast it as a shallow and blatant attempt to curry favor with the English public and the referees in order for him to continue pillaging towns and killing babies with impunity, as he so obviously does. Not as a sincere attempt at sportsmanship in favor of gamesmanship.
I also thought this was a good take from one of the commenters on the story:
People will always moralize an athlete without regard to context. Suarez clearly has questionable on-field ethics, when his blood is pumping hot and the game is on. Yet his off field attitude has yet to show the same on field exploits. He is a fierce competitor, derived from his street urchin days in Uruguay, playing football without shoes against bigger and meaner opponents. His family was incredibly poor, as was his education. These facts have combined to make him incredibly competitive and driven to win and succeed, without regard to sportsmanship. Sportsmanship wasn’t part of his life, as it has been for most people reading these pieces; who grew up playing politically correct suburban football, with trophies for everyone. Stop moralizing without context, enjoy the game and try to separate real life from the gladiator ring.
By and large, I consider myself to be a fortunate sports fan. My teams generally do well. Two Superbowl titles, 2 Stanley Cups, 7 Sweet Sixteens, 1 Elite Eight, 1 Champions League, 1 FA Cup, Curtis Martin, Larry Fitzgerald, many others. And someday the Pirates will get to .500 and all of Pittsburgh will go nuts.
I think a reasonable standard of expectation for a fan is for one’s teams to be in the hunt, in any given year. Nothing more, nothing less. All the crazies who expect a title every single season can stay in Lexington or Tuscaloosa or the Bronx.
In any given year, I expect that the Steelers will win 10+ games and have a shot at the Superbowl. I expect the Penguins to make the NHL playoffs and have a shot at the Stanley Cup. I expect that Pitt basketball will make the Field of 65 and have a shot to make a run to the Final Four. I expect Liverpool FC to contend for the Premiership, Champions League, and/or FA Cup titles. Eventually, I would like to expect that Pitt football will win 8-9 games in most years and once every few years when the pieces fall into place, they should contend for a national title.
But even with what I believe are reasonable expectations, you inevitably get heart-breaking losses. I don’t have to tell you which loss I’m “mourning” today. I would have to say that Pitt’s loss to Villanova ranks second only to Francisco Cabrera’s single for Atlanta vs the Pirates in the 1992 NLCS. Even the Penguins recovered from David Volek. The Pirates have never recovered from that loss.
Pitt basketball is a strong program and they’ll rebound, rebuild and contend again. I know we had a successful season. I’m proud of how they battled and banged with the big boys. We’ll be back. I expect it.