This Is Sportsmanship
Keylor Navas has probably never had a day as bad as Wednesday, in the World Cup, when he played goalkeeper for Costa Rica against Spain, and lost, 7-0.
Not much of it was Navas’ fault -- the ball kept coming at him from many angles – but a keeper always takes these things personally.
Navas is no stranger to Spanish soccer. From 2010 to 2019, he played goalkeeper in Spain, most of it for Real Madrid, the perennial champ. Then he moved to Paris St-Germain, the powerhouse of France.
Any soccer player in Spain knows Navas, or knows of him – a modest-looking bloke, with a silvery thatch of hair, who does not appear to be 6 feet, 1 inch tall, as listed.
Near the end of the one-sided match, I hoped the tv camera would stay with Navas.
I often think of the second World Cup I covered, in 1986, in Mexico, when Argentina and Italy met in the first round in Cuauhtemōc Stadium in Puebla – a nasty game between two masters of infighting.
Yet at the end of a 1-1 draw, Diego Maradona of Argentina was hugged by many of the Italian players – a salute to his impact on the Napoli team in the Italian league. I witnessed a tactile camaraderie among highly-paid players on the two squads, who had been booting each other around all afternoon, and rolling around in gestures of mortal pain.
On Wednesday, a knot of Spanish players immediately jogged over to the Costa Rica goal and hugged Navas or patted him. What they said was among them. But the body language showed their respect for his long career on European clubs and with the Costa Rica national team.
It’s a lesson to fans in the stadium and watching on television. Athletes play hard, and sometimes it gets nasty, but when the whistle blows, quite often the respect is tangible.
11/23/2022 04:56:53 pm
It's the best things about sports - the genuine respect of competitors for each other. It's Ted Williams at his induction to the Hall of Fame calling for the best Negro leaguers to be equally honored. It's boxers at the end of a grueling match congratulating each other. There can be only winner in high-level competition, but that doesn't mean the others are losers. Something we forget too often.
11/23/2022 09:55:49 pm
Lee, good point. I was there when Williams made that speech.
11/23/2022 05:06:48 pm
George, an excellent observation. After playing for ninety minutes or more at full tilt, most teams and their players show their respect for each other.
11/23/2022 10:01:51 pm
John, Nice of the coach, and maybe you really did turn away more ,shots than you remember. (I can't say Navas had one of his better games today.) Still, it was nice of the Swarthmore coach to say it. I will send a link to our grand-daughter who was a recent co-captain of the Swat team. The Div III women are generally sportsmanlike after the match.
11/23/2022 05:12:36 pm
Sportsmanship extends to good fans as well. Friends can root for different teams and also enjoy the happiness a win can bring to others. It’s not about enjoying elimination or defeat.
11/23/2022 10:06:37 pm
Marty, it's a good point. Even as a former fan, I got over some of my NY grudges. I remember a few 1951 NY Giants being at a baseball gathering in the early 80s (Dusty Rhodes was one of them) and I had a great team with them -- a lesson. Plus, I always knew Bobby Thomson, the guy who hit the home run was a terrific guy, and every casual meeting or sighting over the years proved me right. And my childhood terror of the NYY faded in the late 60s, as a reporter, when the Yankee clubhouse included Bill Robinson, Roy White, Horace Clarke, Steve Hamilton, Ruben Amaro and of course Mel Stottlemyre, some of the best people I've met in baseball. Fans should try to see that part...GV
11/23/2022 07:11:46 pm
Thanks, George. I'm sorry that Fox is not lingering after each match like NBC/Peacock does at the EPL. Those post-game images are among the true highlights.
11/23/2022 10:14:31 pm
John, great to see your comment here. I see 45 Tours???
Edwin W. Martin Jr
11/23/2022 10:32:02 pm
GV, the discussion re fans reminds me of a great example. It was the last game of the year between the Dodgers a d Cardinals at Ebbets Field. The Cardinals had won and Brooks were eliminated. Stan Musial came to bat, after hitting fabulously against the Bums all year.
11/24/2022 08:12:59 am
Ed, quite right. That's how he got his nickname. Fan near the press box shouted, "Here
11/26/2022 06:01:31 pm
i remember reading he had 5 doubles in a double header and got that ovation.regards,ahron horowitz
11/26/2022 07:03:40 pm
Aaron, thanks, that may be right. I remember thinking he hit about .600 in Ebbets Field against the Dodgers that year, and he received a standing ovation!
11/28/2022 06:09:04 pm
Ahron: Sorry I'm so late in replying. There's a World Cup going on.
11/28/2022 06:43:44 am
11/28/2022 04:54:08 pm
But, but, but. When you turn to WC coverage you do not see the GV byline.
11/28/2022 05:47:12 pm
11/29/2022 07:25:42 am
I thought his nickname was "Stash" (pronounced 'stosh'). ;-)
11/29/2022 08:02:00 am
Polish kid from Donora --
11/28/2022 06:13:58 pm
To All: Thanks for the nice words above. I've been watching parts of most games, and certainly the two US matches. There's so much good stuff out there, I'm not trying to write regularly, but I am gearing up for the Iran match on Nov 29...I wasn't overwhelmed with the England draw, and I don't necessarily think the US will beat Iran (although they should). I will write about that match right after it's over...I love the sport, love the event, and plan to watch the WC right to the end, US or no US. Thanks so much, GV
11/29/2022 01:29:17 pm
Keep your eyes on Josh Sargent. He has impressed me as a special, inspirational player. Tireless.
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.