June 22, 2006

Extraterrestrial Soccer Report

From the Language Log Sportsdesk

The world may be about to end. But before I get to that, here's some advice. If you're a World Cup goalie, don't worry about fizzing balls. They always miss. Don't ask me why. Maybe it's the fizz.

Here's some of the latest World Cup action:

Paraguay 2 - 0 Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad started the second half much livelier, with Carlos Edwards fizzing a fine cross right across the goalmouth. It begged to be fired home but was not.
Sydney Morning Herald June 22, 2006

Holland 0 - 0 Argentina
Riquelme sent a shot fizzing just wide.
Guardian June 21, 2006

England 2 - 2 Sweden
Twice in the first half, Lampard made perfectly-timed runs at the heart of the Swedish defence. The first ended with a glanced header wide and the second culminated in a fizzing 20-yard strike that whistled narrowly over the crossbar.
The Northern Echo June 21, 2006

Italy 1 - 1 USA
Two minutes later Dempsey came closest, with his 30-yard strike fizzing inches wide of Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon's right post.
Belfast Telegraph June 18, 2006

Argentina 6 - 0 Serbia and Montenegro
There was no let up for the Serbs after the break as Argentina continued to strut their stuff. Crespo almost added his name to the score sheet when he sent in a fizzing shot which Jevric was unable to hold.
World Soccer June 16, 2006

Brazil 2 - 0 Australia
Ronaldo's first good goal chance first good goal chance came on 28 minutes when he saw the whites of Mark Schwarzer's eyes but as pulled the trigger Australian defender Craig Moore got across to make a timely block. Just before half-time he sent another shot fizzing past the post.
Unison.ie Sports Desk June 18, 2006

In a Google News search, I found exactly 12 fizzing goal attempts (if you include that Trinidad "cross"). They all missed. The only on-target fizzing goal I found in current Google News was hypothetical,  in a report in The Times about goalkeepers who've been fretting about the new lighter World Cup football:

Robinson primed to deal with curve ball
Robinson's complaint has been echoed by Jens Lehmann, the Arsenal and Germany goalkeeper. Beckham or Roberto Carlos curling a fizzing shot into the top corner is one thing, but Robinson claims that even England's yeomen have suddenly been transformed into free-kick specialists.
Times Online June 21, 2006

Robinson and Lehmann needn't worry about those fizzing shots. As soon as they hear fizz, they know they should just leave the ball well alone. Touching it will almost certainly lead to a corner, whereas if they casually put on the shades they have in their back pockets and light up a cigarette, they're guaranteed (or their Language Log subscriptions will be returned in full) a goal kick after the wildly spinning ball passes harmlessly inches past the post. It's a bit like those Doodlebugs the Germans sent over London: if you heard the sound of one, you knew you were safe. Oops. Don't mention the war.

Mind you, in a search not restricted to current news, I did find evidence the fizzing balls can get into the goal, especially in hockey. In fact, 2 out of 2 fizzing hockey goal attempts I found were on target:

Columbians 3- 0 Beavers
Guernsey Hockey Cup Probably the best goal of the day was the last goal of the day. Cairns beat two defenders at the top of the D before fizzing a reverse stick drive into the corner of the goal.
BBC Guernsey Website March 23, 2006

Luton Town 3  - 1 Harpenden
The talented Luton side were not to be overawed however and quickly hit back with a goal from a short corner, the fizzing flick into the top corner leaving keeper Ben Brind with little chance.
Harpenden Hockey Club Feb 11, 2006

Hmm. This is either an effect of the stick, maybe even with the fizzing describing the stick action rather than ball motion, or else lower quality journos who don't get the whole fizzing thing. You know, like all this fizzing maybe has something to do with language? Ahem.

Now, the latest extraterrestrial science, from today's CNN: Earth surrounded by giant fizzy bubbles. Apparently, "the space above you is fizzing" and bubbles of superhot gas are being observed popping all around the Earth. The implications are clear. An intergalactic superspecies is playing target practice. And here is the bad news - remember you read it first on Language Log - we are the target!!! It's an intergalactic version of soccer, obviously: who would believe in aliens playing hockey? But the good news is that these guys, though slimy, green, multi-eyed, in possession of ultra-long-distance magnetic superheated plasma technologies of which we can only dream, and determined, lizard brains overwhelmed by the furious grip of football fever, that if they can't win the World Cup there shall be no World, can't shoot to save their sorry asses. Too flashy by half. As long as they keep fizzing the ball, we have absolutely nothing to worry about.

Posted by David Beaver at June 22, 2006 03:10 AM