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My new soccer broadcasting pet peeve for 2013

Jan 1, 2013, 10:40 AM EST

Play on

For 2012, no phrase in the world of soccer broadcasting bothered me like the “Unbelievable save!” or any of its cousins, the “Amazing save!” and the “Fantastic save!” and even the slightly less dramatic “Great Save!”

It’s not that I don’t appreciate outstanding goalkeeping; I certainly do.

I am speaking of one particular kind of “save,” one that is only a “save” in the academic sense that it prevented a goal. It’s where a shot comes flying directly at the man or woman between the pipes. At that point, what happens is equal parts self-preservation and actual effort to prevent a goal.

A man who flings his hands anywhere near the vicinity of his head or chest is not demonstrating any grand feat of athletic accomplishment. Credit for good reflexes, perhaps, but that’s about it. There’s not much that is actually “amazing” or “unbelievable” about it. Calling it so diminishes the saves truly worthy of glowing admiration.

Anyway, that’s old news.

My new broadcasting pet peeve is when the mouth behind the microphone boasts of “Brilliant refereeing!” for rudimentary employment of the advantage clause.

I know that proper use of “play on” doesn’t always happen, where a referee allows a play to proceed momentarily before passing final adjudication on a potential foul. But it does happen with regularity, so we are not witnessing some grand triumph in refereeing achievement when it happens.

So why, over and over (again this morning, which has spurred this post), does someone bang the drum for “Terrific refereeing!” when a referee simply waves the “play on” signal? It happened on a goal this morning.

That deserves only a quick comment acknowledging the appropriate officiating decision, if that. Then move on.

There will be something else soon enough more deserving of hyperbolic overreaction. Perhaps even an “Amazing save.”

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