In menacingly tight soccer competitions a winner and loser must be chosen and the game, the championship and the entire league may come down to mere penalty kicks, which, I believe, most would agree is a terrible way to end an extremely athletic and skilled, world-class sporting event. Since the goalkeeper cannot move from the line before the shot has been taken, in all likelihood each imminent penalty will become a goal: Unless there is an error or lack of precision on the part of the kicker. However, and much worse, on occasion the shooter may slice or shank the sphere and miss all seventeen square meters of the net entirely, e.g., think fondly of Baggio, Beckham, and Schweinsteiger, who are forever documented in the annals of history for such highly publicized failures. What could possibly be worse than missing a penalty and losing the championship? Not much you may think, except perhaps for the unequivocal devastation of the humiliating own goal (OG): When you lob the leathered orb into your own net to the shock and absolute derision of your team, your fans, your country, and your mother.
The own goal can heartlessly decide a championship that may otherwise have been won by the more deserving team, with it all coming down to some tiny, momentary lapse in judgment, or lack of communication with fellow players, or an unfortunate deflection from the other team, or the keeper—resulting in a player’s infamous, shameful OG. Firing the ball into your own net hobbles your team to the ultimate success of your competitors: A tactical error that can become a huge strategic misfortune.
This self-inflicted wound may no longer be limited to the confines of the football pitch. Take, for example, the 2016 European Games, where England in a two-four-four formation, led by feisty attackers Farage and Johnson, unexpectedly gunned the globe right into the back of their own net in the 90th minute of the competition. At the final whistle this was an unwarranted crushing defeat for the United Kingdom, with Scotland and Northern Ireland now likely to be traded to another team.
Presently, in 2016’s World Cup, Team USA is dribbling perilously close to its own net with Trump on attack, supported by his devout right-wingers Christie and Giuliani. While receiving plenty of yellow cards and cautions for foul play, the suicide squad has thus far managed to avoid receiving any reds, yet they are perilously close to being sent off for ungentlemanly conduct. Let’s hope Team USA keeps its eyes on the shiny silver prize and not on the Golden One.