Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Goalkeeper's Embrace of Punditry

My friend and colleague Andrew Potter recently posted an interesting meditation on the super-abundance of goalkeeper commentators on his Maclean's blog. In essence, he posits four possible reasons:

1. Goaltenders have a lot of time to think and so are more analytical
2. Goaltenders see the game better than anyone else and so have a broader perspective
3. There are a higher proportion of meatheads among outfield players than goalies
4. Actually, goalies are second-rate analysts - the really good analysts end up as coaches

As a former keeper myself (though not even vaguely in Andrew's class), and father of another decent keeper, I'm biased here. Andrew makes some decent points, but I think he's overgeneralizing what may be a peculiarly Canadian affliction.

Ever since Ken Dryden wrote The Game we have over-estimated the intellectual capacities of keepers as a whole and - as a result - have given an inordinate amount of our hockey commentary over to former goalies who are not as articulate as they think they are (think Kelly Hrudey). TV producers may simply have carried this over into football. In the UK they have a lot of former strikers as commentators (though watching Ian Wright and Alan Shearer banter can be extraordinarily painful). The problem in Canada is that - to put it bluntly - we've never had any good strikers.

The point about goalkeepers making for bad coaches is a very interesting point, though. There are some exceptions (Dino Zoff, for one), but he's right that fewer keepers make it into the top coaching ranks than other players. On the other hand, it could be argued that it is failure as a player (at any position) that drives people to coaching. If you look at the top four in England last year, only Ferguson had a serious playing career and even his wasn't exactly glittering. Maybe the best perspective of all is from the bench! (well, you get to see the art of coaching close-up, anyway)

While we are on the subject of blatant blogrolling - for those of you out there who share my passion for Arsenal and TFC, the Arsenalist is a great site. Go read it.


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