Monday, July 03, 2006

Red and yellow, but not green

Much has been written about how Americans haven't warmed up to soccer during the past 30 or so years, but there's one aspect of the game that should be immediately adopted by us all.

Cards. As in red cards, and yellow cards.

They are used in soccer as something of a technical foul. Have one minor offense, and you get a yellow card from the official. Do something really bad, and you get a red card and are immediately ejected from the game. Two yellows equal a red.

That doesn't really convey the emotion of the moment. Picture one player tripping up another. Tempers grow short. There is yelling. The threat of violence grows. And in runs a black-clad official. He reaches into his shirt pocket and pulls out ... a card. He hold the card up, and fans and players react with passion.

I've liked the concept of cards for some time. Many years ago, a group of my friends played recreational soccer. When something happened when I was out with them that I didn't like, I just reached into my wallet and pulled out a card. Someone would react by saying, "Oh, no, I've been Visa-carded!" I really should have gotten a yellow Visa card or something.

ESPN the Magazine recently had a back-of-the magazine graphic with a card, with various names on it to indicate their time was up. I'd bet Terrell Owens was on there, although I can't say for sure.

But I think the idea works on a much more personal basis. The other day, I was driving into work when I went to make a left turn into a one-way street. A car was coming out of that one-way street the wrong way; the driver was obviously too lazy to go around the block to enter the Thruway corrrectly. I gave him a look as I went past that could be described as quizzical; I really didn't appreciate him messing up traffic and potentially causing an accident. He responded by bugging his eyes out and looking like I was the one who was wrong.

I could have used a yellow card.

Couldn't we all?

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