I used to despise penalty kicks.
I am not talking about the ones that take place during a soccer match, after a foul in the 18-yard-box. A shot from the spot is absolutely warranted.
To decide a game after 2 hours, 11 on 11, or 11 on 10 like we saw with Costa Rica and Greece yesterday. I thought it was insane to go to PK’s.
I used to have the attitude of the great white north, the hockey mindset.
SUDDEN DEATH! Stanley Cup playoffs. Next goal wins. No matter how long it takes.
But I have been converted.
These footballers on the field are not resting every 45 seconds on a line change. Some are on the pitch for two hours, percolating.
Taking penalty kicks is a skill. It’s not a random act or a lottery as some commentators have mentioned.
It is not easy, or else they would last forever.
It’s shooter versus goalkeeper. There’s no pressure on the ‘keeper. The shooter has a gift from 12 yards away. How can they miss?
But they do.
It’s all about the pressure, what’s between the ears of the shooter, mental toughness.
Bobby McMahon, the great analyst in this country wrote an interesting piece in Forbes about penalties.
There are tons of statistics, but one sticks out. Compared to penalties taken in the Champions League in Europe, or the Copa America, which decides the best in South America, the success rate of penalties taken at the World Cup is over 10% less than the other 2 events. The World Cup has a success rate of just over 71%.
That is NOT automatic.
So if the games is deadlocked after 90 minutes, then 120 minutes, please don’t start winjing about what is coming next.
If the final, semi-finals or all of the quarter finals come down to PK’s, watch it live. If you PVR the contest, do not fast forward, between the kicks. Turn up the volume, let the tension build and watch men feel the weight of billions of folks watching around the planet.
I dare you to turn off, because you know you cannot.