Monthly Archives: June 2010

The World Cup and Instant Replays

Well, I’ll admit it. I haven’t been doing much the past few days. OK. Make that past few weeks. Since my feet have been off the concrete early a.m., I’ve managed more and more to plant my buttocks firmly in the easy chair by mid-day. And then as far as subsequent real-world activities go, to quote the philosopher Porky Pig: “That’s all folks.” Yet I have an excuse. I enjoy watching the World Cup matches — even with the U.S. now kaput.

And I guess there are important matters that I should be addressing from my post as a pajama-clad citizen journalist. For instance:

  • Confirmation hearings for SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan began yesterday. And this is great theater, with the Republicans huffing and puffing, but my sense is that it is going to be kind of ho-hum. Just sayin’.
  • And Paul Krugman, writing in the NYT, is signaling the possibility of a third depression. Let’s hope he’s wrong. That he’s just being a Gloomy Gus.

Oh well.

Since I can’t get worked up enough to lift my vuvuzela and give a toot about the next justice of the Supreme Court or a coming depression, I guess I’ll  opine about something that has been dominating my little world lately: the use — or not — of instant replays in World Cup matches.

I expect that instant replays are inevitable.

Here’s from George Vecsey, writing in the NYT, “An Obvious Case for Instant Replay“:

Instant replay arrived in world soccer on Sunday. It became absolutely essential when the field officials totally missed the shot from England’s Frank Lampard that hit the crossbar and bounced close to two feet inside the goal.

The referee and the linesman were fully 25 yards away, but television cameras instantly told everybody around the world that the ball had gone into the goal and that England should have tied the score 38 minutes into the first half of its Round of 16 match.

The blown call did not change history, because Germany pummeled England, 4-1. But the glaring mistake was a reminder that soccer goals — more than baseball home runs or football touchdowns or even hockey goals — are too precious to be squandered. Those three sports now have some version of instant replay in North America. It’s time for soccer, too — at least where television and big bucks are present. And surely by the World Cup, next time, in 2014, in Brazil.

And FIFA President Sepp Blatter is quoted in the NYT this morning as saying that there would be a renewed discussion about “goal-line technology.”

That to me makes sense — have a system in place to sort out the disputes about goals.

But I hope that football — as the world knows it — doesn’t become like American football. American football games now take forever — with just about every decision on the field being reviewed via video replay. The result: far more TV timeouts than anything even closely resembling real action.

One of the reasons I like watching soccer is that there are few interruptions — save the flopping of  some of the players and the amazing amount of time it takes to substitute a player, especially at the end of the game when your team is behind. Oops. I digress.

So I expect we’ll see instant replays at the next World Cup in four years.

And let’s hope FIFA can do that without destroying the essence of the game.

That should be the goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooal.

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The World Cup and World-Class Excuses

I’ll admit it. I enjoy watching the World Cup. So I have a decision to make this morning. Should I stay home hugging the easy chair and watch the U.S. play Slovenia? Or, on an absolutely perfect morning here in NE Ohio, should I venture into the real world for a long bike ride? Well, since I can’t run these days, I’ll opt for hitting the trail on the two-wheeler. Hey, it beats the elliptical trainer.

Still,  I’ll be rooting remotely for the U.S. team in a match that really is important if we want to advance beyond the first round. Saying that, if the U.S. team loses, there is no point in trying to come up with an excuse. Spain has a lock on that title.

Here’s the back-story.

Spain, one of the favorites in the tournament and one of the best teams in the world for the past few years, got its lunch eaten Wednesday by Switzerland. The reason? Well, the fingers are pointing at the goalie’s girlfriend.

Here’s from a story on The Huffington Post, “Sara Carbonero, Iker Casillas Girlfriend, Blamed for Spain World Cup Loss.”

Sara Carbonero, a beautiful sideline reporter and girlfriend of Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas, is being blamed by some fans for Spain’s shocking World Cup loss to Switzerland on Wednesday.

The Guardian reports that the gorgeous sportscaster is accused of distracting her boyfriend by being so close to the field before and during the crucial match. Casillas allowed the game’s only goal, and Spanish fans are worried that Carbonero could be to blame.

Woot. An excuse doesn’t get any better than that.

But it appears that Carbonero isn’t willing to play along and unlike most of her media counterparts actually had the balls to ask a tough question in an interview she conducted after the match. Again, here’s from the article as reported on The Huffington Post:

After the game, Carbonero interviewed her boyfriend and asked him about the team’s unexpectedly lousy performance. On live TV, she asked her lover, “How did you muck this up?”

Ouch. “How did you muck this up?”

And that’s essential the question members of Congress kept asking BP CEO Tony Hayward yesterday at another hearing about the oil disaster in the Gulf.

Too bad Hayward didn’t have either a good explanation — or a similar world-class excuse.

Too Much Technology? Here’s a Modest Test

I had a very enjoyable breakfast meeting yesterday with two friends and former colleagues who I worked with at BFGoodrich and Kent State. Not a computer or a BlackBerry in sight. Just coffee and conversation. Wow. Real life unplugged.

I understand the virtues and benefits of the technology that allows us to send and receive information and updates 24/7. Hey, I couldn’t work from home without a computer, Internet access, e-mail and so on. And I guess my life would be diminished in some small way if I didn’t know via Twitter that someone had just checked in at some venue somewhere for coffee or whatever. Still, I’m not convinced that it is a good thing to be connected all the time. Saying that, every time my BlackBerry buzzes these days I’m compelled to stop what I’m doing and check the latest text message, e-mail or news update.

Am I hooked on technology? Are you?

The NYT has several informative articles and blog posts on this issue this week. Here’s an excerpt from one — “Are You Hooked on Technology?” — by Tara Parker-Pope:

For many people, technology is not only changing the way they work and communicate, it’s changing their personality. Here are some questions that can help you determine if technology is taking a toll on you. The questions are adapted from a self-assessment test found on NetAddiction.com, developed by Kimberly Young, a professor at St. Bonaventure University in western New York State who has led research on the addictive nature of online technology.

  • Do you frequently form new relationships with fellow online users?
  • Do others in your life often complain about the amount of time you spend using technology?
  • Do you always check your e-mail messages before doing other things?
  • When you’re online and someone needs you, do you usually say “just a few more minutes” before stopping?
  • Have you ever chosen to spend time online rather than going out with others?

Clearly, we aren’t going to turn the clock back when it comes to online technology. But something tells me that we are going to start to question how much is too much and whether we really do need to share as much personal and other information as we do. And do we really need to be connected to family, friends, employers and others 24/7?

Hey, just heard the buzz from my BlackBerry.

It can wait.

BP: A New Standard for Crisis Communications?

Well, I may have to change the name of this blog to PR on the ellipitical trainer. I’ve been able to chase the belt on the treadmill a couple times in the last few days. But hitting the concrete. Nada. Sore foot. Sore foot. Oh, my. Oh, my.

Oh, well. More important problems facing us these days — the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico certainly among them, if not topping the list. And I wonder what BP can say at this point to restore public trust and confidence?

Maybe nothing.

I was thinking about that yesterday when I was tethered to an exercise machine and watching the broadcast version of an ad that BP is using to apologize for the spill, take responsibility and convey the image that it is in control of the situation.

That ad should be effective. Hey, it’s classic PR strategy for crisis communications and management: apologize, get senior management involved and on the scene quickly, and take responsibility. That’s been pretty much textbook advice for more than two decades — ever since the Exxon Valdez catastrophe and the inept response by that company’s management.

So, is it working for BP? Doesn’t look like it.

Here’s from an interesting Associated Press story as posted on The Huffington Post, “BP Ad Backfires, Spur Criticism, Not Sympathy“:

The ads began appearing last week and have been criticized by President Barack Obama, who said the money should be spent on cleanup efforts and on compensating fishermen and small business owners who have lost their jobs because of the spill.

The ads also don’t thrill residents and visitors of the Gulf Coast, where the oil has blackened some beaches and threatens others. And others say the sentiments come too soon and insincerely.

“Their best advertising is if they get this cap (in place) and they get everything cleaned up. All you’ve got to do is do your job, and that’s going to be plenty of good advertising,” said Grover Robinson IV, chairman of the Escambia County, Fla., Commission, referring to BP’s efforts to place a cap over the gushing pipe and capture the oil.

BP spokesman Robert Wine said in an e-mail Saturday that “not a cent” has been diverted from the oil spill response to pay for the ad campaign. He didn’t know its cost.

BP management — and that of any organization in this kind of situation — has to convey a message that it cares, that it understands the scope and severity of the crisis, and that it takes responsibility for the fix today and as the situation evolves in the weeks, months and maybe years ahead.

But when you come down to it, results matter.

And today — in an era of Twitter, Facebook, and 24/7 news — that may well be the new standard for crisis communications and management.