From: Stig Oppedal (email@example.com) Subject: The Amazing World of Norwegian Sports Journalism Newsgroups: rec.sport.soccer, soc.culture.nordic, rec.sports.olympics Date: March 10-18, 1994 PART ONE: TOTALLY TRUE TALES OF TERROR Last December Egil "Drillo" Olsen, coach of the national football team, stated his opposition to the new World Cup rule that gave three points for a win, since this meant that a team with a preliminary group record of W1 D0 L2 could advance to the second round instead of a team with a W0 D3 L0 record. Aftenposten, Norway's leading broadsheet, printed this comment: "At last we have been able to catch the great Drillo in making a logical mistake. If one team has three draws, it follows that no team in that group can have a 1-0-2 record! We forgive you, Drillo, since you're taking us to the World Cup. But we hope you're back to your best by then!" The following day: "Once again, Drillo proves that his sharply analytical mind can see farther than most others. The records of the six third-placed teams are compared to allot four second round places. Goal difference will then determine if a 1-0-2 record is better than a 0-3-0 record, as Drillo was able to see. It's reassuring to know that, half a year before the World Cup starts, our coach is in full command. 1-0 to Drillo!" More like 6-0, half of them own goals. What an in-depth analysis: a man is first patronized, then proclaimed a visionary, for merely stating the obvious. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the amazing world of Norwegian sports journalism. The sports journalists fall roughly into two categories. The first ones can be dubbed "The Egos That Ate Oslo", columnists who consider themselves equal in importance to the athletes and coaches, think they know everything - and desperately want to make the rest of us aware of this fact. Major giveaways are relentless name dropping and overuse of first-person pronouns. A classic example is "VM i fotball 1986", a bestseller from two respected authors and football commentators, Dag Solstad and Jon Michelet. Jon Michelet's half of the book, supposed to be about the 1986 World Cup, chronicles the greatest love affair of the century: Jon Michelet and Jon Michelet. We get, interspersed with the odd comment or two about football, page up and page down of: Ego Stroking: "I'm one hell of a guy. But don't call me privileged. My privilege was earned through ball breaking work and hard won experience. 13-14 years ago I was one of Norway's most down-and-out journalists, couldn't get a damn job, could just as well have ended up in the gutter. Now I'm here, ace reporter for Norway's largest paper." Like I'm real impressed, Jon! Name Dropping: "The reason that Preben Elkjær and I became such good pals was blah blah blah". Snore! More Ego Stroking: "These women think this Spanish-speaking gringo from the North Pole is quite a sight to see, and they comment my looks and my attributes." Anti-Capitalism Rants: "Do these self-righteous American journalists think that a World Cup in the US would not make them [the corrupt establishment] rich? It would be a World Cup with the same people, the same sponsors, the same puppet masters. FIFA is an organization that is created for a capitalist society, whether it's private and rotten like Mexico or state-run and rotten like Bulgaria." Proletarians of the world, unite! Even More Ego Stroking: "[half a page about this orgiastic carnival in Brazil in 1968] I'll admit it. Naked except for a silk scarf around my waist, I carried a picture of Miss Universe in a parade through the streets of Bahia." Ask me if I care! The other type of Norwegian sports journalist are those who make the term an oxymoron. They can't write Norwegian (suffice to say that if they were English they would be capable of writing "he scored too goals", "the team played good", etc). They haven't a clue about sports. And I just don't know where the hell they get the nerve to call themselves journalists. For someone who follows football just a little closely, it is not hard to detect mistakes that clearly indicate a lack of feel or knowledge of the game. A recent Norwegian book of English football anecdotes was revealed to contain over a hundred factual mistakes, which really is on par with the major papers. Sometimes the gaffes are unbelievable: in last season's Manchester United vs. Tottenham match (January 9,1993), Eric Cantona was _withdrawn_ from the game, i.e. he went off injured with the substitutes already used up. Dagbladet reported he was replaced by "Widron"! The reports themselves are so uninteresting, so low on content, so devoid of interesting commentary, I end up asking myself why do I even bother? The entire point of the sports pages is to give the illusion of substance - most often they have nothing to say, but they _have_ space to fill, so they write something anyway. For instance, many regional papers list the match facts of English games like thus (March 7, 1994): "Everton - Oldham 2-1 (1-1). E: Preki (40), Stuart (61). O: Sharp (43). T: 18 837." On the next page they'll have a written rundown of the latest league action: "Everton are also improving, and on Saturday they beat Oldham 2-1. Preki and Stuart scored for the home team, while the former Everton striker Graeme Sharp scored for the away team. Sharp was later expelled." This is merely the match facts in prose form, and boring prose at that, with some minor info occasionally tacked on. The Norwegian press agency NTB sends out these match facts in both forms so that the papers can decide which they want to use. But since the sports pages have to be filled, the papers print both. The illusion of substance in a nutshell. There are basically four types of sports reports in Norwegian papers. First, we have the standard "I could have done this myself in less than ten minutes" match report. A typical example of this is Aftenposten's coverage of Norway's 2-1 victory over Holland, September 23, 1992, which they used a full broadsheet page to report on. This is what we got: - a 90 sq. cm assessment of the players ("strong ball-winner, sound positioning") - a 180 sq. cm messy match report. It contained no comments from any of the coaches, players, or Dutch or Norwegian experts - i.e. it might as well have been written by someone who watched the match on TV. There was, however, enthusiastic adulation of the team: "Drillo's boys are the toughest footballers ever in Norwegian history!" - an 80 sq. cm unrevealing interview with a Swedish scalper, lifelessly accompanied by a 150 sq. cm b&w picture of a bored Norwegian holding a ticket - a 530 [sic] sq. cm b&w photo from the match itself. The idea of such a large picture is that it should be dramatic and say something about the game, for example players celebrating a goal, or Rune Bratseth in a duel with Marco van Basten. Aftenposten's idea of an attention-grabbing motif was an expressionless Stanley Menzo holding the ball, with an equally blank Mini Jakobsen on the ground, while some fans looked on. The photo wasn't worth a thousand words, but rather a thousand letters - and all of them were z's. The really tragic part was that Aftenposten used four journalists and two photographers... As an aside note, this was actually an improvement, compared with for instance their match report from the 1990 World Cup quarter-final between England and Belgium. The 150 sq. cm text was completely muddled, with three key episodes described not once but twice. It was so gushing that it contained no less than nine exclamation marks: "Then a super shot from Scifo hit the post!". The piece was accompanied by an 800 [sic] sq. cm meaningless b&w picture, with the riveting caption "John Barnes played poorly, but here he gets past Georges Grun" Secondly, whenever Norway accomplishes something in international sports we get to read the mandatory "Trash of the titans". The purpose of this type of report is to remind us that i) patriotism is no good, ii) sports are unimportant and iii) nobody cares about Norway, so why bother. NTB sent out this stern editorial after Norwegians celebrated winning two gold medals in the first two days of the Lillehammer Olympics: i) "It looks like we must utter a small warning: we must not become too cocky and patriotic. We have every reason to be proud, but Norwegian pride often turns into bragging." At the same time, the foreign competitors claimed they had never felt such a friendly atmosphere, nor received such good support from the local spectators. ii)"Some people say that it [the Olympics] has it's good sides, that it is better that nations fight in stadiums than on battlefields. But a sports victory proves even less than armed conflict. Actually, it proves nothing of lasting value." The third element is best illustrated by NRK , the state-run TV station. Norway was riding high after winning nine gold medals in the '92 Winter Olympics, equaling the combined haul from the five previous games. NRK's correspondents in England, USA, Hong Kong [sic], and Chile [sic] sent in reports to show that nobody in those countries knew of our sporting exploits, that they hadn't heard of Vegard Ulvang or Kjetil Andre Aaomodt, and that they indeed barely knew about Norway. Then there is the "Low cal" report - high on idolization and emotion, low on content. A good example is Adresseavisen's full page coverage of Norwegian ski-jumper Espen Bredesen's victory in the prestigious 1993-94 German-Austrian jumping week. The main part was an apology for previously declaring that someone as terrible as Bredesen should give up. In addition there were quotes from competitors saying how great he was, and a short description of his two jumps. What they didn't give us were the actual results! No final standings from the competition. No info on who earned World Cup points. No World Cup standings. Nothing. Zilch. Zippo. A variant of this type is the "Now that's what I call informative!" news bulletin, as typified by this snippet from Drammens Tidende a few winters ago. "The Norwegian national team won 3-2 in an exhibition match in the United States late Tuesday night." Not only did they not tell us who scored, they also forgot to tell us if it was the men's or women's team, who the opponent was, and, indeed, what sport it was. It was such a success they reprinted the same message on another page. Finally we have the "Summer intern at work, proceed with caution" report, when a nepotistic editor give's his favorite nephew free reins, with disastrous results. The summer months are actually referred to as agurktiden (the cucumber period) because of the low-quality coverage of trivial "news". A post-match interview in Drammens Tidende in August 1992 went like this: "Reporter": Espen, you scored your first goal of the season today. How do you feel? Espen: This was my second goal, I scored away against Elverum a month ago. But it still felt good to score today. R: Espen, the team is playing well now. Are you hoping for promotion? E: Yes, we're playing quite well and scoring a few goals, so we hope we can win promotion. R: Espen, you have a difficult away game next week, what are the team's plans? E: It looks like a tough game, but hopefully we'll keep up our good play and at least earn a draw, maybe even a win. The incisive interview went on for a few more lines. Such nonsense is bad enough on live radio, but you'd think a newspaper editor would have enough sense to edit it out, instead of printing it in its entirety.... All in all though, I much prefer to read about football in the quality English newspapers, like The Observer and The Times. The writers here are not sports journalists, but rather journalists who write about sport. Simon Barnes, Patrick Barclay, Rob Hughes, Hugh McIllvanney, et. al. all deliver probing interviews, interesting analysis, and witty, literate football reports that are a delight to read. PART TWO: THOSE INDESCRIBABLE CLICHÉS The deadly duo of Bravado and Banality, sport's answer to Beavis and Butthead, is the bread and butter of 99% of all athletic interviews. Journalists seem to be taught to ask the exact same questions over and over again, and athletes seem to be coached in how to answer in the most unoriginal manner possible, as in baseball movie "Bull Durham". How many times haven't we heard a live interview on the radio or TV where we knew what the player would answer _before_ the interviewer was halfway through the inane question? In team sports, the main idea is for the interviewee to convey the idea that team success is more important than individual glory, and that the team has a do-or-die spirit. For instance: Q [to the team's main striker]: You scored your first goals in ten matches, are you relieved? A: Yeah, definitely, I've been going through a lean spell and, you know, hopefully this goal will help my confidence. If I can score more goals then I can help the club to win games. Q: You're down in seventh place, well behind the teams leading the pack. Have you written off your chances? A: Even though we're [x] points behind the leaders [where x = number of mustachioed dictators in the world, not including Graeme Souness], we're not out of it yet. [Oh, yes you are!]. Hopefully we'll win a few games and put pressure on the leaders. We won't accept defeat until it's mathematically impossible to win. And if I ever here "What's more important to you, a good Cup run or survival in the League?" again, I swear I'll .... well, I swear I'll do absolutely nothing, because I _know_ I'll hear that chestnut a few zillion times more. Here are some of Norway's greatest sporting clichés, which journalists use mainly in their quest to prove that sports mean nothing: circus - a derogatory, and mandatory, term used to portray sporting events as shallow, mindless entertainment for the masses (i.e. "bread and circus"). In alpine skiing for example, the World Cup circuit is, without exception, referred to as "the World Cup circus". "pamp" - a corrupt, self-indulging, and evil circus leader. If you hold a position in an international sports governing body, you are automatically called a pamp - you drink cocktails at receptions and that's about all you do. tears - Norwegian athletes try to avoid shedding tears in public, because they're aware of the journalists's unhealthy obsession with crying. The main questions at a post-Olympic victory press conference are: "Was that a tear I saw?", "But you couldn't keep back the tears?", and "I thought tough guys weren't supposed to cry?". Norway's most sold paper, VG, had a front page of Olympic Champion Bjorn Daehlie wiping away tears, with the headline screaming "DRY YOUR EYES, BJORN!". babies - journalists _repeatedly_ ask top athletes what was more important, a greater experience, or a more dramatic change in their lives: their biggest athletic achievement or the birth of their children? To which the athletes always answer the children. The point of this is to underscore that something of value that we all can accomplish (becoming a parent) is of great worth, whereas something that we the people will never manage (become World or Olympic Champion) doesn't really mean anything. gratitude - an athlete should never think a victory is his own doing, and Norwegian journalists always ask the question "Who would you like to thank for this victory?". The conquering hero is then expected to list up trainers, family members, childhood dogs, teammates, ad infinitum. The great Olympic Champion and cliché-buster Fred Borre Lundberg had the perfect answer in 1991: "First and foremost I'd like to thank myself". "lua i haanda" (cap in hand) - the reason we suck at sports, is because we have this feeble cap in hand mentality. Norwegians don't have enough aggressiveness or winner instinct, and we're never best when it matters. Or so the journalists would have us believe - though they've been shut up recently :-). ugly nationalism - when our athletes actually do show a winning mentality, that's no good either, because we become cocky and aggressive nationalists. Or so the journalists would have us believe. If I were struck by a rock for every time a journalist asked "Do you think Norway can handle another Olympic gold medal?", I'd be more stoned than the audience of an average reggae concert. Sweden - the First Commandment of Norwegian sports journalism is "Thou shalt exalt thy neighbor". Norwegian journalists and TV&radio commentators cheer for Swedish athletes and teams because i) they want to show that they are broadminded people capable of enjoying the success of others, and ii) they somehow think that success for Sweden (and Denmark) is good publicity for Norway. Commandments are meant to be broken, however, and journalists will often poke fun at Sweden. That's when the Second Commandment kicks in: "If thou breaketh the First Commandment, then thou shalt verily kiss Sweden's ass to an unreasonable degree." After a few cheap jibes about Sweden's poor Olympic performance ("Fiji and Sweden: 0 medals each"), Adresseavisen predictably cracked under the feeling of guilt. A columnist, assuring us that he was completely serious, wrote on February 18, 1994: "Max von Sydow, Björn Borg, and Ingemar Stenmark - each of them are greater than all the Norwegians combined. Imagine if someone could demolish Norway in the cross-country relay [the biggest event for us]. Imagine if someone could destroy Aamodt in the giant slalom. Not just anyone. A Swede." Ho, hum. PART THREE: TV - THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE DOWNRIGHT VEGETABLE In Norway there are two nationwide TV stations, NRK (state-owned) and TV2 (commercial). Most of the sports commentators on the latter, like Nielsen and Alsaker, are competent, likable guys doing an OK job. Most of the sports commentators on the former are _not_. THE GOOD OVE ERIKSEN, SIV KRISTIN SÆLMANN: Rarities at NRK, in that they're straightforward people who do a good job as studio anchors. Eriksen & Co. also manage to bring out the excitement in speed skating, while Sælmann knows how to conduct a friendly, relaxed interview. In the context of NRK, they are like a breath of fresh air in Los Angeles - welcome, yet seemingly out of place. JON HERWIG CARLSEN: As a studio anchorman, he's purely Clark Kent, but once he's out commentating various forms of skiing he's a deranged Superman. He regales us with the absolutely worst puns you'll ever laugh at, the absolutely worst poems you'll ever laugh at, etc. His enthusiastic and entertaining banter livens up the proceedings. KJELL KRISTIAN RIKE: the sometimes partner of Jon Herwig Carlsen, a likable man who is known to laugh for up to a minute at poor jokes. Kjell is the Diane Chambers of soccer commentary - incredibly enthusiastic, breathing life into the dullest of games, but with a penchant for tripping himself up: "...another bad pass from Ray Houghton, and I must say that he's been awful today... that is not to say that he is a bad player, he does play for the Irish national team... but on his form today he wouldn't be picked by Jackie Charlton... even though he _has_ had a few good passes, but not as many as he - Oh! A goal for Aston Villa!" THE BAD ARNE SCHEIE: NRK's main soccer and ski-jumping commentator, you simply _know_ what this dull guy will say at any given time. "The keeper boxes the ball.... that's the smartest move in such a tight situation." "He won a corner, that's what he was looking for." "Har dere noensinne sett paa makan, dere!!" "The keeper tries to hold the ball, but in such a tight situation he should have boxed it." "If our dear sport of football, that we all love so much, is to survive, the referees _must_ clamp down on time wasting." "Har dere noensinne sett paa makan, dere!!" "He won a throw-in, that's what he was looking for." "If our dear sport of football, that we all love so much, is to survive, the referees _must_ clamp down on shirt pulling." DAVY WATHNE: Entertaining when commentating Italian football, deranged when commentating Norwegian internationals for TV2. His completely irrational statements irritate the viewers and the expert summarizer who's commentating with him, usually for the first and last time. Poland vs. Norway, October 13, 1993: "What?! Poland gets a corner?! That ball was never over the by-line!" "If you watch the replay, Davy, you'll see that the ball was at least a meter over the line before Rekdal gets to it." "There's no way that was a corner. Yet another scandalous decision." THE DOWNRIGHT VEGETABLE NRK has a healthy tradition of letting unbelievable losers loose on an innocent public. Back in the seventies there was reportedly a gymnastics commentator who was fired after describing a female gymnast doing a full split: "She's opening up her hot-dog stand - and who wouldn't want to be a customer there?". Remember, we're talking about the _seventies_. Then there was the commentator at a Norwich City home game in 1985. After a quarter of an hour the airwaves suddenly went silent due to "technical difficulties" - i.e. he was incoherently drunk. Let's meet the current crop: LARS LYSTAD & BJARNE LI: Mere weeks before the 1992 Winter Olympics, our downhill star Atle Skårdal dramatically falls in a World Cup event, injuring himself for the rest of the season. The live commentary from L&L: "Atle Skaardal rounds the bend and is only [WHAM! Atle nearly kills himself] a few hundreds of a second behind the lead...This is very reminiscent of the race a few weeks ago when Skaardal had a strong finish and nearly won.. however, it looks like Atle has fallen, and he seems to be in pain..." Metaphorically speaking, you'll find these two in the kitchen washing dishes during parties. Li is such a blatant name dropper, however, that I suspect he in real life tries to be the life and soul of the festivities. Typical spaced out comment from Bjarne Li, during the Olympic Super-G competition at Lillehammer: "Gunter Mader is at one with Nature... he moves like the animals..." One week later during the women's Super-G: "Deborah Companogni has gone out and studied the animals in the woods... in order to move like them.." If anyone knows what the hell he is talking about, please let me know. FINN SOHOL: tennis commentator whose main ambition in life is to teach us the basics of tennis, in case we forgot them since the last time he was on the screen. He follows L&L's lead and tries to take the drama out of the action. A typical example is the Olympic Final in1992, when Steffi Graf served, facing match point. The TV commentators were silent, letting the viewers enjoy the action. Except for Finn, that is. "And if Steffi were yet to pull this off, it would indeed be a remarkable achievement. She has had a difficult year. The German press have given extensive coverage to her father's private scandals. When she stood by him, the press started to hound her, too. Not to mention [lists up all of Steffi's problems. 15 seconds after the match is over:].. but it is not to be, Steffi has lost." Metaphorically speaking, you'll find this guy drying the dishes for Lystad & Li. TERJE DALBY: It's always a pity when this living legend is not the studio anchorman. By the time the White Queen from "Beyond The Looking Glass" has said six impossible things, Terje has already said sixteen. His feeblemindedness has inspired a new generation of broadcasters like Haugen, Berthiniusen, and the inimitable Rita Morvik, whose intelligence is inversely proportional to the breadth of their idiotic grins. Picture a pudgy, blond haired man in his 40's who fancies himself something of a charmer for old-age women. Rumor has it that he is actually a wolf in sheep's clothing, though his sheep's brain is not part of the disguise. He often tries to lend an air of dignity to proceedings by staring into the camera, turning his face slightly up, reading the cue card in an impeccable manner, and finishing by tightening his lips while slowly blinking his eyes. Needless to say, it has all the dignity of Graham Taylor on a Rotterdam touchline, post Koeman goal. Another reason I hope he's in the studio is that I'm terrified he's going to be the one commentating the Saturday soccer match. Here are some of his antics: - If two players or clubs have names that begin with the same letter, forget it. On a consistent basis he'll interchange Ince and Irwin, Penrice and Peacock, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday, ad infinitum. - Come to think of it, if something simply has a _name_, forget it! Ever felt like venting your anger at England's manager, George Graham [i.e. Graham Taylor]? Ever heard of United's star striker, Mark Huge [i.e. Hughes]? The coup de resistance is when he pronounces Port Vale "Port Whale"... - He ends every sentence with the verbal crutch "da". - His commentary usually limits itself to telling us exactly what we saw: "That was a bad pass over the sidelines, da", "An easy save for the keeper, jada", "That was a hopeless shot, da". - When a player is in focus he will often read out information from a dossier, in an attempt to show off his football knowledge. However, since he reads the info in the exact same order ("Born in 19xx, bought from team X for £xxx, made his debut against team Y, scored x goals this season"), he rather gives the game away. Here are some typical - and I _mean_ typical - quotes from the Golden One. Keep in mind his clumsily "dignified" speech manner. : -) Southampton vs. Everton, March 16, 1991 "He played in the 1-1 draw against Manchester United, which incidentally ended 1-1, da." Reading the Everton lineup: "#4 Martin Keown, #4 Dave Watson, uh, no, #5 Kevin Sheedy, no, that should be #5 Dave Watson, #5 Kevin Sheedy, uh, that should be etc." Giving the background for the game: "Southampton and Everton both need the points, but Southampton desperately need the points, even though Everton need the points, too - however, Southampton need the points more than Everton, da." After Southampton's Neil Ruddock almost scored: "There is a standing joke that people who haven't scored in a long time have their chance against Southampton, and Everton's Kevin Radcliffe hasn't scored in five years, but he's a defender, da, but that was a fantastic opportunity for Neil Ruddock, da." After Glenn Cockerill shoots 25 meters over the goal: "[very enthusiastic voice] ... fantastic shot by Glenn Cockerill !!!, but I guess he got it on the wrong foot, da" :-) Everton vs. Liverpool, April 1991 Anticipating the match: "In the last 19 games between these two, only three games have ended 0-0, so this promises to be a high-scoring game, though they most often end 1-0, da." :-) Arsenal vs. Manchester United, February 1, 1992 "The ball is now with Andrei Kanchelskis, who of course comes from the Soviet Union... or, uh, as we call it now, uh [puts up heroic struggle to recall the name "Commonwealth of Independent States"], uh, that we now call the Commonwealth of, uh, Soviet States, da." "On the screen we now see United's manager Alex Ferguson, and, uh, the man next to him must be .. [once again puts on heroic struggle]... jada, it is United's injured defender Steve Bruce." It was actually United's chairman, Martin Edwards, a distinguished looking man in his late forties. And finally, one all-time classic from this wordsmith. In early 1990, Terje was reporting from a cross country skiing event in Lahti, Finland, where the up-and-coming Sture Sivertsen achieved a fine seventh place. The enthusiastic verdict? "Et finfint internasjonalt sammenbrudd for Sture Sivertsen." "A terrific international breakdown for Sture Sivertsen." Terje Dalby may be the acknowledged master, but for the greatest ever single rendition.... JAN ROGNVALDSEN: How do you describe the genius of Mozart's piano sonatas? How do you explain the beauty of a painting by Rembrandt? What could I possibly say to do justice to Rognvaldsen's stunning virtuoso performance on January 10th, 1993? Envisage a gray man speaking in a monotonous voice, with all the raw charisma of a Bulgarian newsreader from the 1970's. Envisage a man who in the space of 15 minutes, presenting TV2's roundup of Italian football, makes all the mistakes Dalby would during a full 90 minute match. Envisage a commentator who, when two Italian players are on the screen, says "... and Frank Rijkaard plays the ball to Ruud Gullit". Envisage complete logical breakdown. I don't remember the actual scores, but all nine match reports were chaotic variations over the same pattern: "Foggia in, um, white are on the attack, and almost score on this shot from [player A]." The team in white attack again: "Another long distance shot, this time from... [B].... and it's a goal... 1-0 to Inter." Inter? Now, the red team have the ball: "another attack.... [C] goes on a solo raid...he fakes the first defender.. and the second.. and scores... 2-0 to, uh, Foggia." Huh? Isn't it 1-1? The red team attack again later on: "[C] plays a one-two with, uh, [A], runs down the sideline, and crosses for [A] to equalize." 2-2? And didn't [A] play for the white team? But wait, the white team attack again: "[D] sends a through ball to, uh, no, that's [D] who gets the ball, he runs 30 meters...and scores." I would be on the edge of my seat in anticipation. "3-1 to Inter." And then the final score would flash up, and it would be something like Foggia 1 Inter 0 - i.e. the other goals were disallowed. I still wouldn't have a clue if Foggia were red or white. Sadly, Rognvaldsen was dismissed short time afterwards, so we will probably never see such a memorable display again... And finally, no posting on Norwegian sports journalism would be complete without mentioning the one media that actually does a good job. Radio commentators are often not simply a breath of fresh air in L.A., but rather an oxygen tank on the moon. In the pre-war era there was Per Chr. Andersen, then Halfdan Hegtun in the 60's, before the late, great Bjorge Lillelien gained world-renown for his intense reporting. Through his personal, dramatic style, Bjørge made even the most peripheral events seem like matters of national importance, the dullest matches seem like they were pulsating with excitement. On September 9th, 1981, Norway beat England 2-1 in football and Bjorge Lillelien went totally berserk, a long monologue ending with him shouting in English: "Maggie Thatcher, can you hear me? Maggie Thatcher... your boys took a hell of a beating.....your boys took a hell of a beating." Just _thinking_ about it sends chills down my spine. Stig :-) ---------------------------- Completely irrelevant PS In the notebook where I had jotted down the Terje Dalby quotes, I also found some "poems" I had written at the same time. Most are awful, but this one might interest movie buffs (especially if you like "sophisticated" wordplay): Natalie Would Cry At Night Sitting alone by the ocean Watching a star blaze in motion She dreams of her dean while she lies The fountain of youth still in her eyes Tears flow without a pause Beauty that gave the rebel his cause As for good poetry, I found the following in the Observer from May 9th, 1993, while looking for the Norway-Holland match "report". It is an epitaph from Chester Cathedral about how we perceive the flow of time: For when I was a babe and wept and slept, Time crept; When I was a boy and laughed and talked, Time walked: Then when the years saw me a man, Time ran; But as I older grew, Time flew. And if you can read this, you have too much time on your hands.... APPENDIX: HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 1994 WORLD CUP Date: November 21, 1994 NRK's studio guests usually had one thing in common - a complete ignorance of football. Asked for her comment of the Norway - Mexico game, Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland said: "I thought Jostein Flo had nice, blonde curls." The regular NRK gang didn't sink to such depths, but could have needed a swimming course all the same. Arne Scheie, for one, drowned a few times. "The Italian forwards did not shine in this game, literally speaking." "The Romanian kicked the ball out of bounds because Hagi needed medical treatment.. and he gets a yellow card! This is a scandal! A disgrace! The referee had absolutely no mandate to give Lupescu that yellow card! [ad infinitum]" On the other side of the planet, one million people were asking each other "Did _you_ see Lupescu get a yellow card?!" After Thomas Ravelli deflected a weak shot from Mauro Silva straight into the path of Mazinho: "Brilliant save!" Scheie also adopted a hit-and-miss naming policy for the Dutch team against Saudi Arabia, throwing out a "de" here and a "van" there - Roy, de Roy, van Roy, de Goeij, van Goeij, van Wouters, etc. No wonder the Saudis felt outnumbered! There was general consensus that Kjell Kristian Rike, previously known for his enthusiastic commentary, had completely lost it. He often had no idea of what was happening, as when he realized that Sweden had been awarded a penalty kick about one second before Martin Dahlin kicked the ball into the net. Another typical situation was when Klinsmann tapped the ball past the keeper and scored, Effenberg coming a bit too late to "make sure of the goal". Despite numerous TV-replays, Rike thought that Effenberg was in fact Klinsmann and spent the rest of the game debating the "dubious episode": "But Klinsmann must have been offside, so the goal should have been disallowed... and Klinsmann wasn't even close to the ball, so how could he be credited as the goalscorer....a suspicious goal..." Rike also repeatedly demonstrated the art of bad timing, for instance during the Ireland vs. Holland game: "Celtic released Pat Bonner this summer, but I think he's a good player.. he's one of the best keepers of the tournament so far, and [etc, etc - you _know_ what's gonna happen],....Jonk shoots, but that's keeper fodder, so - BONNER! WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING?!?!" 2-0 to Holland after butterfingers lets the ball slip through his hands.... Other Rike classics: "..that goal was definitely scored by Bregy.............or was it?.....um..." "That was Roberto Baggio's 5th goal of the tournament...the same amount as Baggio." "Baggio tries to go around the defender, but Ivanov follows him like a blacksmith." "[oppriktig:] Dommeren har gjort en fantastisk fin jobb med aa holde gemyttene i kok." "[sincerely:]The referee has done an excellent job in keeping the tempers out of control." The Master, Terje Dalby, also chipped in: "Experts of Saudi Arabian football [aren't we all!] will remember Owairan as the player who scored a hat-trick against Macáu - a team that is relatively unknown to us, da." You don't get more "relatively" unknown than the Macanese football team! "Saudi Arabia has no players abroad, they all play in The Netherlands..uh, I meant 'Saudi Arabia', da..... I often say 'The Netherlands' when I mean 'Belgium', but they do lie next to each other, da.." Egil Drillo Olsen also contributed to the mirth. After Sweden took an 80th minute lead over Romania, he said "A miracle has to happen now for Romania to get back in the match and equalize. Sweden have this game wrapped up." After Romania scored two minutes from the end [hurray!]: "There are 90 minutes in a football game, and Sweden forgot that. It's dangerous to think you've won when you're only leading 1-0." There was little fun to be found amongst the mediocrity of the newspapers, some of which began the World Cup with the headlines "First win for Drillo" and "Norwegian style beat Italy" - after _Ireland_ had defeated Italy. This brainless nationalism was later transferred to Sweden, as I mentioned in my original posting [Scandinavian Bronze Age]. Deadline pressures meant that the quality of the match reports reached an all time low, as typified by this snippet from Aftenposten [I've made no typos]: "But Italy attacked still. And got the reward: Roberto Baggio lobbed in to Benarrivo, who always wanted. He before a Nigerian, #2 Eguavoen. Penalty? Only maybe. But now Carter didn't have a choice. He had to give Italy something. And gave them victory." The only funny incident was after Norway's win over Mexico. The front page headline in Drammens Tidende screamed: "The game we will never forget! - match report, page 17". However, there was no match report on page 17 - or anywhere else in the paper!