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Soup of This Day #287: Shed A Little Light

January 28, 2013

Venus de Milo
The Venus de Milo. She has lost her arms – Photo: Shawn Lipowski, 2006. Shawn Lipowski is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

This is a relatively brief post – 1 that is limited by time.

It’s a little bit ironic then that it has as its genesis an incident that occurred in the very early hours of June 17, 1972, nigh on 41 years past. It was then that 5 men were caught burgling the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters within the Watergate Office Complex in Washington D.C.

It was at the time a thing of seeming innocuousness. It wasn’t though and a little over 2 years later, after Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, amongst others, had followed the money, US President Richard Nixon was left with no option but to resign because of the train of events set in motion by that blown piece of espionage on the DNC. Nixon, who had earlier had to stoop to declaring that he was not a crook, was the loser-in-chief of what became known as the Watergate Scandal, or more commonly, just Watergate.

And because it took down the leader of 1 of the world’s superpowers the name Watergate has become synonymous with the gold-standard of scandals, a byword for controversy not just in the political world but any time, anywhere that someone has been caught out.

Usually the connection is made by appending the word ‘gate’ to whatever the controversy is about. For instance, when in 2004 Justin Timberlake accidentally on purpose revealed 1 of Janet Jackson’s breasts during the halftime show for Super Bowl 38, the subsequent scandal became known as Nipplegate.

Because seeing a nipple is akin to to burgling the DNC.

Or something – Me personally I more remember that game for the Pats eking out a 3 point over the Panthers and a 4th quarter shootout between New England’s quarterback Tom Brady and his opposite number, Carolina’s Jake Delhomme. The latter combining with Muhsin Muhammad for an 85-yard touchdown late on is pretty much my dominant memory of that game.

I don’t do half-time shows – They’re not the main deal.

And there in lies the problem with adding a gate to a nipple – It’s not the same as adding water to a gate. Although if you apply the guideline retroactively then technically you’d be adding a gate to a Watergate – Watergategate – Because water wasn’t the source of Nixon’s demise, for all that leaks sealed his fate – Twas the break in at the Watergate that did for him.

As it was Ballboygate that has put a temporary crimp in Eden Hazard’s career.

Ballboygate is another of those palavers that doesn’t really count for much in the grand scheme of things – A lot less than Watergategate but slightly more than Nipplegate. No governments will fall because of it, however a game of sport was affected by it.

That game was a League Cup tie between English Premier League (EPL) giants Chelsea FC and Welsh EPL upstarts Swansea City AFC, this Thursday (24th) just past. The 1st leg of the tie, played at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge home had seen the cashed-up Londoners rolled 0-2. The 2nd leg of the tie, at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium home had therefore looked to be a game of a desperate local defence battered at by an equally desperate visiting side that was trying ever so hard not to piss off their billionaire owner.

That has stalemate written all over it and so that’s what it was, with neither side able to gain an edge.

Until the 80th minute.

At that time the ball went out for a Chelsea throw. The relevant Swansea ballboy though refused to give the ball back. He instead flopped onto the ball, covering it with his body and thus preventing Eden Hazard from carrying the attack forward for Chelsea.

It was a move of revolutionary genius by the ballboy, who was occupying a role that many had previously interpreted as being neutral and not at all involved in the deciding of the game. Regardless, it clearly was a move that frustrated the young Belgian winger for Hazard resorted to attempting to do what footballers the world over consider to be their best option.

He tried to kick the ball.

The ball that was covered by the ballboy.

It didn’t end well for either of them. The ballboy got bruised ribs while Hazard got sent off. The game itself finished 0-0 and so Swansea won themselves a berth in the League Cup Final – Their 1st ever major final- while Chelsea have a clear day in their immediate calendar.

Eden Hazard has at least 3 clear days in his.

None of which is too controversial – Hazard and the ballboy have shaken hands and moved on and pretty much everyone has acknowledged that kicking ballboys, no matter how annoying they might be, is not a viable way to play the game. What has added a Nixonesque touch of espionage to the whole though, is that the ballboy is a bit older than your average ballperson, is the son of a Swansea City director and that he tweeted before the game that he might be needed to help with some time-wasting across the 90 minutes.

That might be a bigger smoking gun than that tape of Nixon asking for the CIA to quiet the FBI. Or of Timberlake admitting pre-nipple that he was aiming to rock somebody’s body.

Except that the ballboy in question is a 17 year old kid who’s a. Stupid enough to tweet, probably jokingly, that he’s going to waste time; and b. Then goes and does it by simply falling on the ball.

There is no gate here. Just a hole in the fence that leads up the garden path, possibly to a nice statue of the Venus de Milo.

Who is baring her breasts and has nipples.

I can further close the gate on this gategate stuff – When I was 12 I was attempting to steer a farm ute through a pair of gates. My friend, whose dad owned the ute and the gates reckoned afterward that I had simply misjudged, but I maintain to this day that 1 of the gates had swung shut as I drove through, forcing me to clip the closed gate as well as the swinging gate. Controversy subsequently reigned and so I reckon that the whole episode should be known as Gategategate.

Which leaves us with a confusing world – 1 where a 12 year old drives, a 17 year old is a ballboy, a breast bared for a second is a threat to us all and the leader of the free world can’t even organise a proper burglary.

I’m calling the whole confluence of events Weirdgate.

Shed A Little Light

  1. I admit when I first heard the story I was shocked at the brazen crudeness and rudeness of Hazard. Of course…it wasn’t until later I caught up to the fairly relevant part where the ball boy had planned all along to be a constraint on play before that moment in time. Perhaps we need to do away with the sideline help concept and just let the players retrieve the ball on their own. We certainly don’t need that kind of home-field advantage left open to interpretation. Can you imagine the announcers wondering aloud if the ball boys and girls are “trying hard enough” or “deliberately stalling play?” Good Lord.

    • Ironically the ballkids are there to help speed the game along – In the past, when a player wanted to kill some time they’d hoof the ball as far back in the stands as they could, maybe hoping that friendly fans would delay the return. Having the kids there to hand over a replacement ball pronto is supposed to negate that kind of gamesmanship. And for the most part it works – Your average kid is just trying to do the right thing and be good at their job. I guess some 17 year old kids are just smart enough to try to make the most of the situation but dumb enough not to know that it’s not good for the game.

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