At Secret Base we love a good own goal. If sports can showcase the pinnacle of human achievement in athleticism, drama, and joy, they also provide an excellent substrate for farce at its most pure. Here is Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper-slash-standup-comedian Lukáš Hrádecký making the most of his stage during a German soccer match:
Arminia Bielefeld's equaliser against Bayer Leverkusen pic.twitter.com/BKk7Y8pTQu— Andrew Cesare (@AndrewCesare) November 21, 2020
When I wrote about own goals back in September, I noted that the best own goals require active self-destruction on the part of the conceding team. They must be the architects of their own downfall. This own goal amply fulfills that brief.
There’s something particularly impressive about a goalkeeper doing this. Keepers are — or like to think of themselves as — the organizers of a soccer team’s defense, and the ones to whom everyone else should be responsible when they inevitably made mistakes. The archetype of the goalkeeper-boss is Manchester United great Peter Schmeichel, who spent significant chunks of the 1990s screaming at his teammates* until he turned red.
*Sometimes I wonder what it’d have been like if he’d played for a worse team — he wight have exploded by 1997.
I’m not a monster. I don’t laugh at every goalkeeper mistake. Everyone screws up, but when a goalkeeper commits a howler with thousands of people watch it must feel absolutely dreadful. And most of the time, goalkeeper errors are the result of a chain of mistakes from their teammates high up the pitch. Even when it’s their fault, it’s not always their fault (hence the yelling).
But. I’m also human, and when a goalkeeper does something so spectacularly of their own making it’s impossible not to laugh. Watch that video again. It’s majestic. Under no pressure, the man casually slices a slow backpass into his own net. The sad little bounces are what make it, I think. It’s a little like catching the Queen letting rip a chain of giant farts.
This mistake, by the way, came during an absolutely dominant defensive display from Leverkusen. Their opponents, Arminia Biefield, managed zero shots the entire game, a profound rarity. That rarity is compounded even further by the fact that they still scored, something I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever seen before. (Fortunately for Leverkusen, they were able to squeak out a 2-1 win.)
I have nothing against Hrádecký in particular, and I hope he doesn’t feel too bad about the mistake, but after this, it’s funny imagining him trying to bollock a defender for messing up an offside trap. Nothing humbles like an authority figure like public abjection.
Incidentally, I’ve been trying to come up with analogies for this own goal in sports that don’t have goals. What is both extremely detrimental to your team, funny and occurs on a routine play? The head-bounce home run is a good one, but I suspect we could reasonably call any fly ball which goes into the stands on one bounce (even if that bounce is off an outfielder). The best I’ve come up with is a center snapping the ball over their quarterback’s head for a safety. Perhaps, for maximum impact, it could be in the Super Bowl.
Hmm. Will probably never happen.