Warning: part of this post may be too intense for some readers.
In soccer, the ‘pitch’ is the field upon which the game is played. The USA, Canada, and Australia call it soccer. To most of the rest of the world, the sport is called football.
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Period. Second place? Cricket.
Over 710 million people worldwide watched the final match held in Germany in 2010. We tried to get tickets for at least one of the weeks of the month-long finals that year, but by the time we could make travel plans, we discovered that they had been sold out for over a year. This year’s finals will be held in Brazil, beginning on June 12th and ending a month later in July.
The World Cup Finals are held every four years, with over 200 teams from around the world competing for more than two years to narrow the field to the 32 teams that reach the Finals. The level of play during the competition is amazing, with headers and kicks and jaw-dropping goals that look physically impossible to make.
The team and fan rivalry is enthusiastic and can sometimes be intense. Sometimes, fans get so caught up in the moment that they lose all sense of reason if a call goes against their favorite player or team.
In 2013, a referee expelled a player from a game, a fight broke out and the referee in Brazil mortally stabbed the player. When friends and family of the player found out that he had died on the way to the hospital, they charged onto the field and stoned the ref to death. Then they quartered his body. They took his head and put it on a pike in the middle of the field. That’s not a typo, folks.
Just about a month ago, some fans were so annoyed by play at a match that they started tossing toilet bowls at the opposition fans. Yup, ripped out the plumbing and threw it, killing someone in the process.
Law enforcement agencies and fans of the sport have been working for several years to reduce the number of incidents, occasionally emptying stadiums before a match is finished so that a game can be completed without further harm coming to players or refs or the fans themselves. Serious scrutiny of various underlying causes for the riots, crowd mentality, and sometimes criminal behavior has even caused a change in how the games are played and/or policed.
I love the sport, and even played on the varsity soccer team when I was a kid, so I am not knocking the pure beauty of the game. People just get carried away from time to time, forgetting that it is in fact, just a game we play for exercise, sport and/or entertainment. Many of the top players in the world, in this pre-World Cup week, have said in interviews that they want to provide great entertainment for the fans. Of course they also want to win, but hooligans are not invited to the show.
We won’t be in Brazil this month, so we’ll have to be happy catching a match or two on TV. Plus, I have my ’94 World Cup t-shirt to wear whenever the USA plays. 😉
If you are lucky enough to watch some of the matches in person, here are some tips to remain safe and happy while you’re there. They work for any large sporting event, not just the World Cup.
Stay safe and have loads of fun watching the best soccer players in the world compete.
*Photos by Patti Phillips
(Note: From the 2014 archives)
It’s Triple Crown season in the horseracing world.
The 140th Kentucky Derby took place on the first weekend in May, the Preakness ran May 17th and the Belmont Stakes (the last of the three races that make up the Triple Crown) will be held this coming weekend. The last horse that won the top prize in horse racing was Affirmed (in 1978) and California Chrome has a shot at the crown this time. There is a stable full of money to be won or lost – the first place purse at the Derby alone was over $1.4 million this year.
With stakes this high, tempers are bound to flare, arguments over how to train a horse to win will be frequent, and cheating at all levels in all areas of the sport has been attempted in the past. Unscrupulous trainers or desperate owners may try to dope a horse to enhance its speed or even disguise injuries with drugs so that the horse can race one last time. This is less likely to happen during the big races because of the increased scrutiny from all sides. But, to deal with any abuse of the animals or the betting system and even conditions for the jockeys themselves, each state has a Racing Commission that oversees and regulates the integrity of the sport and hands out penalties to offenders throughout the season if needed.
See www.khrc.ky.gov for information about the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
Great jockeys matched with superior horses can be a goldmine for the owner and the jockey percentage of the purse can be substantial. That winning purse at the Derby that brought the owner over a million? The winning jockey made $142,000. that day. If jockeys finish in one of the top three spots in a big race, they receive 10% of the purse for the day – thousands in most cases. Outside the top three at a smaller track? They might get $100. for the ride. That disparity is the source of intense rivalry for the best rides.
The day after the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby (2012), a trainer’s groom was found dead behind a barn at Churchill Downs. The murder (or possibly reckless homicide) was never solved, so nobody can say for sure whether his death was related to racing or to a nasty argument over something else entirely.
Cathy Scott, a crime writer, covered the original story:
Homicide detectives followed as many leads as they could, but it’s a cold case.
People all over the world bet on the outcome of the Triple Crown. Some base their bets on the jockeys, on the stables where the horse comes from, on the horse itself, even on the conditions of the track. Me? If I watch a race on TV, I choose the horse based on its cool name or on the colors of silks the jockey wears. Not a foolproof system, but I’m not a bettor. I just like to watch the horses run.
Big money and fierce competition both on and off the track – what could possibly go wrong?
*Photos by Patti Phillips – of an unnamed, great looking horse from her files. 🙂
(WARNING: Some photos may be disturbing to some viewers)
Not long ago, Sheila and I spent a pretty intense afternoon with a group of students and professionals doing a simulation of an explosion and its aftermath at a local campus. Here’s how it played out.
“You have reached 911. What’s the nature of your emergency?”
“A bomb just went off at the campus! There must be a dozen people hurt…there’s blood everywhere…”
Someone – a fellow student or perhaps a passing motorist – had called 911 and while sobbing or yelling the words into the phone, had begun the process to get help to the scene. The caller was kept on the phone in order to get any “who, what and where” details they might have known.
The 911 dispatcher made the appropriate call and told the First Responder, “There’s a possible explosion at the college. There may be multiple injuries.”
In general throughout the USA, the groups that respond will be from the Police/Sheriff, Fire, and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Departments in the area. The unit that responds first is the First Responder and it is their responsibility to secure the scene. When the Law Enforcement agency arrives, they will determine if they are looking at a crime scene or whether something has accidentally exploded. In both cases, a perimeter is established.
If it is a crime scene, then access inside the perimeter will be limited to essential personnel and a sign in/out log will be used. An officer will guard the access point as long as is needed. This insures that evidence can be preserved as much as possible and that curious onlookers will not get in the way of either treatment of the victims or investigation of the scene.
Multiple victims, multiple injuries, an explosion and several agencies involved? How do they keep from tripping over each other? How do they know what to do next?
Each of the groups has a Command person in charge of that group. In addition, an Incident Commander is in charge of the entire scene, coordinating the efforts of everybody concerned.
Victims are prioritized by type of wound, and then tagged with a card that identifies the level of injury, before they are eligible for transport. In general, the tag colors indicate:
*Black tags – not breathing
*Red tags – will die if not treated immediately, but still breathing on own
*Yellow tags – broken bones, but alert
The ones having sustained the most serious injuries and who have the greatest likelihood of survival, are treated and transported first by EMS Transport Command.
Other victims who have superficial cuts and abrasions are treated at the scene and released from care.
One of the simulation victims had a piece of glass ‘stuck’ in her arm as a result of being too close to windows that shattered during the explosion. The EMS gal treating her explained that the glass would keep the wound from bleeding until the victim reached the hospital. Basically, it was plugging the hole in her arm. If the police considered the glass a piece of evidence, it would be collected, bagged and tagged at the hospital. The piece of glass would only be removed at the scene if the patient could not breathe or if it got in the way of doing CPR. Since the glass was in her arm, it was left there and bandages were wrapped around it.
The Incident Commander explained that the first priority was the treatment of the patients and that all evidence on (or in) the victims would be collected later at the hospital. The EMS does not remove anything from the scene if they can help it.
The police began to take statements from the witnesses after treatment was in progress, but prioritized the questioning – least hurt, most alert, were questioned first. The EMS people are under HIIPA rules, so are not allowed to share any information they see or gather from the victims being treated. The police have to get that info on their own. At some point, the law enforcement officers would obtain an order for medical records of the person who caused the explosion.
Sadly, one of the victims ‘died’ during the simulation, as would happen in real life. This lady did not make it because her injuries were so severe. (only a simulation – that’s a great makeup job)
If all this were really happening, area airports and highways would be shut down until the threat level was determined. Was it an accident in a lab? Or was it a terrorist action? Unless the investigators get lucky and somebody confesses or does the ‘big reveal’ right at the scene, the truth is, that at an hour after the initial explosion, all that is known for sure is that lots of people have been hurt.
Sheila and I were impressed with how well the simulation went and how well organized it was. Great experience for us to see how a well-trained group can bring sanity to a potentially chaotic situation.
*Photos taken by Patti Phillips at a real simulation conducted in Guilford County, NC at the Writers’ Police Academy.
*Sheila and Charlie Kerrian are fictional characters, but the simulation actually took place.