Hand Ball

Perhaps you have seen Thierry Henry’s “hand goal” that propelled France into the World Cup and kept out Ireland. There is no doubt that Henry used his hand illegally, and that it led directly to the winning goal. It is right there on the video and Henry has said he used his hand in case there was any lingering doubt.

This reminded me of a phone call I received earlier this fall from a local soccer referee who had recently worked a game at Hyde. It was a fiercely played match between the men’s JV team and a local school. With the score tied and only minutes left to play, the opposing team centered a ball in front of the Hyde net and a hand shot up and batted the ball down. The ref blew the whistle, awarding a free kick to the opposing team. This set off protestations from some of the Hyde players that it was the other team who had hit the ball. (Being a fan close to the action, I knew this was true, but only after a Hyde player had first hit the ball illegally). The offending Hyde player told his teammates that the call was correct. The referee was calling me to applaud the Hyde player for playing with integrity and being honest with his teammates.

Thinking back on this now, a few things occur to me. First, I do not remember for sure who won the game, even though I was there, but I definitely remember that Tyrone Freston was the player in question, and probably will remember him for quite awhile. Second, while I appreciated the call from the ref, Tyrone was doing what I would expect any Hyde athlete to do. Third, what Tyrone did was not extraordinary, it was simply honest and honored the integrity of the game. Finally, I wonder who regrets their decision more: Mr. Henry or Tyrone?