And the Winner is ... Germany!

It wasn't exactly a beautiful game. Both Germany and Poland were exhausted from all the games. They really need to cut back on the number of games and have this every four years instead of every two. I am glad that they have moved the start of the major league handball games from Tuesday. They'll all still be hung-over on Tuesday and have a hard time getting back to normal crowds (2-6000 instead of 19000).

But they did it, by force of sheer willpower and muscles. All of the players in the top four are great players. So determining the best one is quite difficult. Things were moving along nicely (with a bit of jitters here and there and Poland in the lead for a few moments at the beginning) when Henning Fritz fell to the ground. He had no contact with another player or the ball, but the split that he was doing in the air ripped at his shin muscles.

Jogi Bitter was suddenly called on to do duty for his country. The rest of the team was quite shaken up and let the Poles come within one goal of tying the match - that would have been dreadful, psychologically. But then Bitter began keeping balls out of the goal, and the Germans didn't throw away quite so many balls, and it was comfortable enough for us to breathe freely 2-3 minutes before the game was over. The Poles realized they were goners and didn't even try the usual desperate tricks at the end. They were happy with second place, as they had been aiming for seventh (seventh and above qualifies for the Olympics).

I thought it was great that the team put on moustaches in honor of the trainer, Heiner Brand. The gold crowns were kind of corny, but they were so happy, spritzing all that expensive champagne (or perhaps German Schaumwein?) all over each other. Enjoy it guys, Germans forget quickly.

I liked the comment one of the football gods had in the Berliner Zeitung this morning: I felt like women used to feel when watching soccer. What are they doing? Why does that not count? I had no idea what the rules were, but this was an exciting sport and I wanted to know more.

Now, if the DHB could just post the addresses of local clubs, we might get some more kids playing handball, wanting to be Pascal Hens or Christian Zeitz or Henning Fritz when they grow up! As it is, their web shop is a good (bad) example for usability class next semester and the uniform shirts are already sold out. They can't even make a buck on this thing!

My blog has suddenly attracted comments from one or more anonymous cowards: "How much did the Nazi pay the referee to win WC?" I realize that many of the referee's decisions were disputed and can sometimes be shown to be wrong on instant replay. But these referees must make soooooo many decisions and concentrate every second of the game, counting steps, looking for pushing or ball errors and what-not. There were many calls against Germany that I felt were unfair, but that is all forgotten now. Oh, and the equation "Nazi" = "Germany" is wrong and has been for quite some time now.

Another anonymous coward: "The referees are sooo corrupted that it is redicolous to watch." There are good dictionaries available online. The coward continues: "sport has become a matter of money you buy your success (in this case help from the retarded refrees)". If you knew how little money there actually is in handball - I think the yearly budget of THW Kiel, one of the largest clubs, is about 6 million Euros or about the size of a minor league soccer club, you would realize that they don't have money for such a thing. If they had had money, they would have maybe bought an ad or two. Luckily, the national team has done plenty to make the games known.

I want to commend the referees for a fine job - despite being angry at the odd decision (and innerly applauding at the raising of the blind flags during one of the games), the referees did a great job here! And without referees, handball would go from organized and orderly fighting to an all-out brawl.

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