On Mean Girls and Soccer and Violence

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  1. Here’s my 2 cents, partly channeling my husband. He watches ton of soccer, like 1-2 games a day, and coaches about three games a week, although not at the professional level. Funny growing I always thought you could so easily get hurt in football, but not soccer :) I’ve learned since then. Soccer is an aggressive sport, players certainly get hurt, badly, the difference is you are not supposed to hit people or run them over and knock them down, like in football, hockey, rugby, etc.

    Fouls happens, and getting a yellow or red card does not mean you are out of control, but this example was. I totally agree that women’s sports does not get anywhere near the attention it should, sadly in my husband’s opinions there are very few good teams out there so it’s not as exciting too watch. This also means girls teams get worse refs and probably worse coaches. America is practically the only country that encourages women to play, although that is changing.

    Here’s the final word from Brian, who is clearly showing his anti-Morman bias as well :) He went to HS in Utah, and I think BYU is known for being pretty rough on the field.

    “The coach is totally to blame. She does nothing until this shows up on the news. I’ll give the player the first hit also-the byzoo girl deserved it. Overall, the byzoo team deserve a thumping for even going to that school. Too much happened ON the ball for the Ref and coach to miss, though”

  2. I agree, I think soccer is a violent sport and yes I do think a much bigger deal is being made about this because it was a woman. In fact, even seeing the word “catfighting” on the video title makes me angry because it is sexist. These are women athletes, not cats!

    I also think every sport is going to have some unsportsman-like conduct. I played tennis through college and I had a doubles’ partner who would aim for the body. Our coach penalized her each time she did it but it didn’t stop her in the heat of the moment.

  3. Frank Sucks says:

    If it wasn’t for the hair pull (which was nasty) it would have been nothing more than a blip on the radar.

    I don’t understand how she only got one card, since some of those fouls on the ball were rough. But I think refs let more go when the quality of play is lower.

    But wow, shock that girls are ultra competitive and can be really nasty about it? Your kidding right?

  4. I didn’t watch the video you linked but I did see other videos. Right before she grabbed the girl’s hair, the girl was holding on to her shorts. So she pulled her out of the way. And it got caught on video. We didn’t see the rest of the game. How many times did she get elbowed?

    I played bball in high school and one of our girls would drive to the goal and pretty much wipe out the defender. She often got called for the charge but you can bet the defender moved or at least flinched the next time. And got the foul.

    Not advocating her style of play but you do think twice about pushing when you know you’re going to get it back.

  5. I’m a little tired of the “we wouldn’t be hearing about this if this was a man” line. I heard that line about Serena, too. But we should be hearing about it man or woman! And I just flat disagree that we make bigger deals about women being rough. We’ve all heard and seen lots about Oregon’s Blount, who (rightly) served an 8 game suspension before being reinstated this week. It’s been all over Sportscenter and Yahoo! about the Florida football player who gouged an opponent in the eye. I still think of Latrell Sprewell first and foremost as the guy who choked his coach. We soccer fans all talked about Zidane’s head butt an awful lot, too. It’s no defense to rough play by women that men get away with it. They don’t.

    And, yes, soccer is a rough sport. It is a little tough to judge this particular incident because I was not able to watch the entire flow of the game. The BYU player definitely elbowed Lambert first, but I still think Lambert earned a yellow card for the not-at-all-subtle punch to the back. Honestly, if Lambert had just pushed her back, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. I actually think the ref at this game bears a lot of responsibility for allowing the rough play to escalate to the level it did. Several of those tackles deserved yellow cards, and would have gotten yellow cards in either a men’s or women’s match. Having only seen a highlight package that singles out Lambert, I don’t really know how many other players were also making rough tackles like that, clearly not going for the ball, or swatting hands in faces regularly. We did see one of Lambert’s teammates “clear” the ball by kicking it smack into the downed BYU’s player head, so we have at least two instances of players other than Lambert being overly aggressive. If Lambert and others had been booked earlier in the game, we probably don’t get to some of those later really hard tackles and the hands to the head or to the hair pull.

    Lambert absolutely should have been red-carded for the hair pull, though. That was just ugly. Yes, I’ve seen male players do similar things both in soccer and other sports, but my response is consistent: get that player out of the game. And a suspension is totally warranted.

    To me the real outrage is that it’s only because there was really ugly play in this game that anyone’s paying any attention to women’s soccer.

  6. I have read the other comments, and don’t have a ton to add, but for starters: Soccer isn’t “violent.” Physical, yes, and every player can expect contact. (Although remember the boring-assed “Soccer MAde in Germany?” Oh my god. Enough with the passing.) But it was never intended to be violent by design. You jostle, elbow, grab a little shirt corner (We called that “All-Cotton Defense”) but a punch in the back? FLying punch/karate kicks fully intended to hurt someone as much as possible to remove them from the game? No no and hell no honey. Be tough. Play tough, don’t be an idiot. SHe hurt her team, her school, the game and most importantly, she has hurt herself.
    That being said, It’s time to focus on someone else who effs up on camera in the age of the Internet.

  7. It’s the ‘nice girl’ syndrome. Girls aren’t supposed to retaliate. Doesn’t anyone remember the famous head butt from the last World Cup?

    Soccer can be violent. The first thing I said to my husband when I saw the clip was, “That girl elbowed her in the breast! It was a reaction to that!”

    As someone who played for 8 years, I know how easy it is to become wrapped up in that part of the game.

    And yes, she did indeed deserve suspension. Absolutely.

  8. I think all sports are physical, some more so than others. I don’t condone what the athlete did, but as a former collegiate basketball player myself, I understand the intense feelings during the heat of battle and can understand why she reacted the way she did. Condonable? No. Deserves to be reprimanded? Absolutely. But to act like this is the first time something like this happened or that she is the only person who has done such a thing is ridiculous. She hopefully has learned her lesson and won’t behave in such a fashion again, but I do think the media is going way overboard on this.

  9. I think it was the level of her payback that I have an issue with. You get elbowed, you elbow back. You get pushed, you push back. You don’t go to the level of retaliation that she went to.

  10. I agree, she was too harsh, and I agree that she deserved to be suspended.

    I just question the level of outrage.

  11. Sarah,

    Your comment above is exactly what I was going to say. And yes, the catfighting headline is infuriating.

    Great debate!

  12. a lot of team sports are physical and we see it all the time
    push – shove
    elbow – elbow
    hip bump – push back
    this is a phsyical form of communication between teams

    But elbow “get out of my space” and the response = double punch “I’m taking you down” it crossed a line in my opinion. It is like someone saying “excuse me” in the supermarket and the other person getting in their faces screaming “no YOU get the F out of my way”

    not at all okay

    and an elbow leading to a couple of punches IN THE FACE (later in the clip)

    and the hair take down

    no, no, no, no, no

    too ugly

  13. Having once lived in the UK and subsequently watched a veritable assload of UK and European soccer, the sport is definitely more physical than you’re average American is willing to admit.

    Having said this, no one can possibly defend this chick’s actions as ‘part of the game’. You push and shove for position and occasionally tackle while going for the ball, but her actions reek of jackassery of the most unsportsmanlike flavor.

  14. I think that soccer is a violent sport, but I’m not quite sure where it crosses over to punching girls in the face and pulling their hair so hard they fall to the ground. http://www.newsy.com/videos/soccer_violence_from_head_butts_to_hair_pulls

  15. Have you ever heard of this phrase:

    “Soccer is a gentlemen’s sport played by hooligans, rugby is a hooligan’s sport played by gentlemen.”

    I strongly disagree that soccer is a violent sport. It can be quite physical, and if it gets too physical or players engage in the kind of conduct highlighted in your post, they get punished accordingly. Zidane’s headbutt was a huge outrage in Europe, and will probably taint his legacy forever. The kind of behavior displayed by Lambert is not tolerated in soccer one bit. Violent fans are a minority and their behavior is condemned by all clubs, officials, players and the real fans.

    I think the conception that soccer is violent is the result of unfamiliarity with the sport, mixed with comparing it to American football. If you look at the gear football players wear, and the obvious roughness on the field, you would conclude that soccer must be for whimps, as they are not taking any hits like that at all. I remember thinking that the concept of a foul in American football must be joke when I was a kid. Then when you look at soccer more closely, you realize that it can actually be very physical: Players sliding towards each other with their feet first wearing long cleats for example. (A lot of people that play for recreation refrain from doing this by the way) This considerable contrast to the previous conception of soccer being mild, might then lead to an exaggerated perception of soccer’s “violence”.

    Rest in Peace, Robert Enke.

  16. Sarah, I’ve watched a lot of soccer at all levels; in person and on the tube. From AYSO to the World Cup — in most matches every time the referee’s back is turned this kind of stuff goes on. Watch the BYU players in this clip: they smile sweetly and break the rules. Usually there is no effective retaliation, so it continues. Players constantly grab and trip and elbow each other off the ball, and do so with little fear that anything they do will be observed or punished by the referee — and if they are, the cheaters are the first to fling themselves to the ground and writhe in mock agony. Context is always important: I’d bet Lambert had reached the end of her rope after vigorous and unpunished physical harassment from the BYU players throughout the game. The crotch grab was undoubtedly the last straw. Snap. I too snort at the mock outrage.

  17. Elizabeth Lambert is a junior at the University of New Mexico, and plays for their soccer team the Lobos originally from California (too bad for California). So, this loser knows they are going in to a game that they will most likely lose and since they do not have the talent to score they resort to this kind of play, it has very minor thought to it than let’s say passisng the ball through your opponents defense and scoring a goal.

    The other issue is the where were the referees, were they all older white men with their tongues out, enamored and unable to call the game objectively (this game had so many penalties that did not get called), I mean what are they getting paid to do. Who has paid these guys off? Do we have to change the game where only women referees can call women games. After watching the video someone was paid off, that is my conclusion.

    And Lizzy, watch you back and please stay out of soccer (you real should be banned, the game does not need people like you in it), so many will be gunning for you now. Who knows maybe you were just drumming up business for your “Occupational Therapy practice”, yah good luck with that, I doubt your bed side manner is any different from your sportsmanship.

  18. that girl looks like a man. she should be tried for assault

  19. The fact that anyone would condone her actions says a lot about the state of the world we live in. That anyone could look at this and say that she was justified in her actions for any reason is beyond my understanding. What would she have had to do for some of you to say she crossed the line, actually snap the other girls neck when she pulled her hair? If this was a reaction Elizabeth had to what the other players were doing to her and it is okay that she did this, does that mean that the next time someone cuts me off while I am driving can I get out the car and try to snap their neck? Where do you draw the line? Look at me wrong and I will smack the crap out of you, trip me and I get to kill you? Totally F’d up.

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