Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Underthinking the Halbergs

So you have probably all heard the controversy. Last Thursday the All Whites won several awards at the Halbergs (For those of you unaware these are the NZ equivalent of the Laureus awards [For those of you unaware these are the sports equivalent of the Oscars]). So just like the Oscars there are awards that no one really cares about, like the best achievement in sound or something like that.

The is Paul N. J Ottosson - He has two Oscars

And you know what I agree with him, it is difficult to compare sports because they are very different, and I will concede that point, but if you are not near the top of your chosen sport you shouldn't be in contention.The Halbergs are designed to recognise excellence in Sport during the Calender year, (Remember this its important). So the All Whites winning the supreme award has caused a lot of concern, and has lead to one judge Dick Taylor quitting the panel, because he thought they were not worthy of the award.
But the Soccer sycophants in this country beg to differ, so I will go through some of their arguments and attempt too rebut them.

1/ Football is a global game- So We did well to be at the World Cup.

Well for starters get the name right, it is soccer. Wait wait wait you say it is called football, well that is not true at all. Back in the 1800's there were many forms of football floating around so to differentiate them from one another, the game we are now familiar with was called "Association Football" and some one decided that it was shorter to say soccer, and many people happily called it soccer until the 1970's when the emergence of the North American Soccer league, caused many people to think it was an americanism so it was dropped from popular use.

Because as we all know America is evil and we shouldn't associate with them

But by just saying I was playing football the other day, you could have been playing, Gaelic FOOTBALL, Rugby FOOTBALL, American FOOTBALL, Canadian FOOTBALL, Australian Rules FOOTBALL. So if you want to retain football, call it Association Football, or be smart and call it soccer.
But I have digressed, the arguments for the All Whites winning the supreme award is that since soccer is played by everyone in the world the fact we were at the World Cup should have won us the award.

I maintain that soccer is so popular due to its simplicity not it's greatness.

That doesn't wash with me, firstly they qualified for the World Cup in 2009, so their qualification path doesn't count at all for the 2010 Halberg awards.
But also the All Whites are only ranked 60th odd in the world at soccer, and they didn't lose at the World Cup, but they did lose at home against Paraguay and away to Australia in 2010, yeah people conveniently forgot about that didn't they?

"Remember don't mention the loss to Paraguay or Australia"
The All Whites are not even close to the top of their chosen sport therefore they shouldn't even be nominated for the award let alone win it.

2/ Yeah, but they punched above their weight

A lot of people say, well hang on sure they are not near the top, but they didn't lose a game at the World cup, against some top quality opposition.
But they didn't win either, and the nature of soccer means that draws are very common result in soccer and they didn't even make it out of their group.
And if you play defensively enough a weak team can hold a good team out.

One of the plays in soccer is to build a Wall!!

The other thing people casually brush over when discussing the All Whites world cup record is that they had probably the worst statistics in the whole tournament, in terms of shots on, and passes made, and time in possession, which indicates how defensive the team actually was.
So they didn't really punch above there weight at all, they just employed the Muhammed Ali technique of rope-a-dope.

Just lean on the ropes and let your opponent tire themselves out.
The only problem with this technique is, you are relying on your opponent to make a mistake or tire out, you are aren't pro actively trying to win or score. In fact I was very annoyed when the All Whites sat back against the Paraguayans in the World Cup, sure it had worked so far, but they needed to win to progress, and as it stood they were only 1 goal away from going to the round of 16. How often is that opportunity going to pop up? If they had done that we might have started thinking about All Whites as Halberg contenders.

3/ But they made everyone Happy and People outside NZ supported them

Another argument is that they brought the country together and they also had many supporters outside NZ. That is because they were the underdog, and everyone loves the underdog. Remember Eric the Eel or Eddie the Eagle?

Eddie the Eagle, was a British Ski jumper, well let me rephrase that Eddie the Eagle was British, and he stood on skis and the Ski Jump. He wasn't very good at Ski jumping at all.
I don't understand he looks like an athlete...
You see back in the olden days, you could just rock up to Olympics and compete as long as it was paid for and you were the best in your country. Since there was no one else in Britain Ski jumping Eddie had the spot sewn up. He turned up to Calgary and promptly jumped 73.5 metres down a hill.

 The next 54 competitors came out and jumped between 90-120 metres.

"I thought I was doing well"
Eddie actually caused the Olympics to add a rule that to compete at the Olympics you had to be involved in international competition and rank in the top 50%. Eddie never jumped in the Olympics again. But people loved him, not just Brits, everyone got behind Eddie.

Eric the Eel was a Equatorial Guinean competitor in the 100 metre freestyle at the 2000 Olympics.  Eric had never seen a 50 metre pool before, and had only been swimming for 8 months. There was a lot of speculation that he had qualified by swimming down a local river.

"It's a lot harder without a current"
Eric's time was 1 minute 52 seconds, the winning time? 47.87 seconds. Eric time for the one half the distance, was about the same as the winners time for the whole length. But again the whole world loved him.

The point of these two stories? Just because you make you country happy and get other people supporting you, doesn't mean you are worthy to win your countries supreme sporting award.
I mean once they fished Eric out of the pool, and scrapped Eddie off the bottom of the mountain, they said well done, thanks for trying, they didn't say here is the supreme sporting award.

So what are you saying?

Don't get me wrong I don't want to take anything away from the All Whites they did well, and they should be celebrated. But they should not have won the award for sporting excellence. If there was an award for Most improved they should have won that.

My award for All Whites


  1. Yes, but rugby and cricket are shit.


  2. Yeah but regardless of how you feel about various sports.
    Rugby team is at the top of their pile - Worthy
    Rowers top of their pile - Worthy.
    Rugby 7's top of their pile - Worthy,
    Netball top of their very small pile - Worthy

    Cricket bottom of their pile - Not worthy
    Soccer middle of their pile - Not Worthy

  3. The Judges keep going on about it is hard to quantify success, but it is almost like they don't try and just use this as an excuse.
    Look at each nominee, see where they sit in their respective sport.
    Only people at the top of their sport are eligible for the award, from there pick which of the sports is most worthy.....

    They seem to take into account the merits of individual sports ahead, of actual position of people within individual sports.


    Want to keep Underthinking? Try one these.