Friday, August 22, 2008

All the latest in Olympic Women's Handball Officiating Coverage!

I love team handball--and I watch as much as I can every 4 years.

In yesterday's women's semifinal between Norway and South Korea had an incredibly dramatic--and controversial--end.

South Korea scored a goal with 5 seconds left on the clock to tie the score at 28 and probably force overtime. Incredibly, in the 5 seconds after the goal (the clock doesn't stop in handball), Norway retrieved the ball, hucked it to halfcourt, put it i play, passed to Gro Hammerseng (their star), and Hammerseng put it into the net just as time expired.

Did the ball cross the line before or after time expired? TiVo was inconclusive. I paused it just as the clock indicated the game ended, and the ball appeared to be either just barely on or just barely over the line. It was hellaciously close. The officials, from Spain, consulted with the sideline officials and then allowed the goal.

Tough, close judgment call.

The Koreans responded in a manner that's not exactly consistent with Olympic ideals. This article details that.

First, they staged a sit-in for 20 minutes after the game. As they did that, coach Lim Young-Chui argued with sideline officials...for a half hour, as if that would change anything. Then, they lodged a protest with handball's international governing body. It failed...the international body stated that the officials' decision was "a factual decision." South Korea is now appealing the ruling to a higher-up handball authority. It, too, will surely fail.

What bugs me here, other than the failure to gracefully accept a judgment call and thereby sullying an incredible game (and yes, I watched the whole thing), is that Lim says that South Korean TV shows that the ball crossed the line two seconds after the final buzzer. That ridiculous statement pretty well shoots any credibility that he or the Koreans have. Two seconds? Maybe two hundredths of a second--if that--but not two seconds. That's the sound of an ungraceful, sad loser.

I feel for the Korean team. But Norway's last attack was tremendous, and the call so close--not even discernible on TiVo--that I can live with whichever decision the officials make.

(I'm afraid the above photo is the best I can find right now. Better ones may shake loose soon.)

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