It’s scary to think that world class players such as UEFA Champion’s League Winners Javi Martinez, Fernando Torres, Juan Mata and David Villa all comprise Spain’s so called “B Team”. But even Spain’s U-21 Champions would be heavily favored against Confederation Cup darlings, and minnows Tahiti. Two questions arise for today’s matchup; how many will Spain win by? And does Spain ever let the foot off the gas?
In other words, do you respect your opponents by playing hard and honest for 90 minutes, even if that means that the amateur Tahitians let in 20 goals? Or do you honor your opponents and keep the score line low?
Spanish ace Andres Iniesta has stated that “The best way to respect an opponent is to play as well as you possibly can and never let up or relax,” he said. “So we won’t be counting how many goals we score. We’ll just be thinking of winning the game and improving our position in the table.”
Do you agree? Chances are that if you were raised in the American school system, that you don’t. From an early age, we’ve been conditioned to show respect by restraining when victory is guaranteed. From mercy rules to gentlemen’s agreements, our youth sports have instilled in us that running up the score is bad sportsmanship.
Besides Spygate, one of the reasons why the 2007 New England Patriots were vilified and hated was because of their propensity to run up the score, even when holding insurmountable leads late in the fourth quarter.
The NY Times Toni Monkovic’s commented on the Patriots 2007 season by saying that “Belichick and the Patriots have won every game, but they’ve lost the moral high ground. Decency is rewarded in the long run.”
This idea of sportsmanship isn’t constrained to the US. As ESPN’s Gab Marcotti notes “…it’s the same in many southern European countries. But in Germany, England and elsewhere, the opposite is true. You honor your opponent and the paying fans by playing as hard as possible until the final whistle.”
Personally, I have always subscribed to the latter doctrine of sport: you play to win, and you never let up until the final whistle. In fact, I was one of the few pulling for an undefeated season from the 2007 Patriots.
It’ll be interesting to see how the match plays out. My personal prediction? Fernando Torres nets 4, and goes on to win the Golden Boot.