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Thought For The Soul

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Thought For The Soul is the bit in Critical Miss where we go completely off-topic, and discuss some aspect of life, the universe and everything. This issue's soul thought isn't perhaps as grand as previous issues. Instead it's simply a little point that annoys me.

It's probably of no interest to anyone, but I figured I'd share it anyway.

It concerns the early awarding of "man of the match awards".

Firstly, for the benefit of our foreign readers, I'd better explain what a "man of the match" award is. It's an award given, at the conclusion of a team sporting event, to the player who gave the best performance. I think in America the term Most Valuable Player (MVP) is used. It's generally given out in football (soccer), Rugby League and Rugby Union.

I believe in days gone by there used to be committees or something to decide who to give the award to. But now, at least in televised matches, the responsibility seems to have been given to the TV commentators.

But that's not the bit that annoys me.

The bit that annoys me, is that they have started to announce who has won, *before* the match is over! Initially they started to announce it thirty seconds or so before the end, perhaps when the game was in injury time. Perhaps that was because they thought that if they announced it just after the end, it would somehow get lost in the general victory clamour.

But they seem to be getting earlier and earlier.

I'm not a great sport watcher, but the other week I happened to be watching the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final. This is kindof the Superbowl of British Rugby League, and in this final there is actually a special trophy for the man of the match, called the Lance Todd trophy.

They announced the winner, Kris Radlinski, with more than *seven* minutes to go, out of an eighty minute match, with his team - Wigan - leading St Helens by 19 points to 12.

Seven minutes!

What really got me was something said a little while after. One commentator suggested that Wigan had the match sewn up, and the other one rebuked him, saying: "There's still a long way to go!"

As it happens, nothing much happened in the last seven minutes, except for Wigan scoring a penalty to stretch the scores to 21-12.

But imagine if it had been different...

(I should point out at this point that I'm sure Kris Radlinski is a great guy, and what I am about to describe is a hypothetical description of what could have happened. I'm in no way suggesting that he would have done any the things described).

Imagine if, with five minutes to go, Radlinski had caught a kicked ball right by his goal line, but instead of kicking it to safety or going to ground in a tackle, he instead tried some kind of fancy footwork, got tackled, and fumbled the ball. One of the St Helens team grabs the loose ball, and drives across the line for a try, which is then converted.

19-18 to Wigan.

Then, frustrated by giving away the 6 points, he commits a most despicable foul. Let's say he stamps on the head of an prostate opponent, leaving the victim unconscious with blood pouring from his wounds. The referee, of course, sends him off immediately, in disgrace, and awards St Helens a penalty, which they score.

20-19 to St Helens.

That Final would go down in history as the one which Radlinski both disgraced himself, and threw away an almost certain victory.

So wouldn't it look pretty stupid if history also recorded that he won man of the match award?


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