Wednesday, June 25, 2008

International Football's Heidi Game

The comparisons of today's Germany-Turkey Euro 2008 semifinal match with 1968's Jets-Raiders Heidi game are apt. After railing against false assumptions and comparisons with American sports, I have to cede some ground on this subject. Of course, unlike the real Heidi game, this game mattered far more and the degree to which television coverage was eliminated was far greater. In fact, amazingly, the only people on earth who watched an uninterrupted match were those watching on local Swiss tv in Basel and all those watching the Al Jazeera network. Talk about irony. The entire free world is in the dark while the preeminent Arab network broadcasts an undisturbed match involving Turkey and Germany.

All that aside, it was almost criminal how the television disaster occurred. The storms cancelling out coverage were in Austria, not in Switzerland where the game was actually being played. The lightening strikes that took out the Euro 2008 signal center weren't backed up in any way? How, in 2008, and in a country as advanced as Austria, could something like this happen? It's one thing for a screen to go blank momentarily, but during a game of this magnitude and with weather forecasts suggesting big storms? Unacceptable. I'd love to blame ESPN for this, but I'm not sure I can. Though if they'd actually had their commentators at the game we could have heard the game via television like a radio broadcast (though perhaps if they'd been there, that would have been lost as well).

In the end, most of the world misses an electric header by Miro Klose to give the Germans a brief lead and then was brought back to live picture seconds after Turkey scored to re-even the score. Thankfully we were able to watch Philipp Lahm crush the Turkish hopes late in the game, but even then the picture was lost again and the final minutes of the match, easily the most dangerous with this Turkish team, were lost to the masses. It's a good thing Turkey didn't score again, there would be utter outrage had that been the case.

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