Right now, Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics is in hot water because he's being accused by Charlie Villanueva of the Detroit Pistons of calling him a cancer patient. Villanueva suffers from a non life threatening disease that causes all of his hair to fall out. Villaneuva made his claim over Twitter. Garnett, who does not Tweet, denies the allegation. He said he told Villanueva that the former UConn player was cancerous to his team.
Big difference. Both are insensitive, and only Garnett knows the truth. He's a notorious talker, as are most athletes, I'd guess. It's fun. It's also a strategic tactic for some to get under the skin of a vulnerable player and force him into mistakes or just plain distraction.
This got me thinking about whether it happens in soccer, and I'm sure it does. The most infamous incident is the Zidane headbutt to the chest of Marco Materazzi during the 2006 World Cup final.Materazzi, Zidane said, used a term that essentially labeled Zidane's sister a whore. Zidane lost his cool and France lost the final in penalty kicks. Trash talk.
Say this for the Zidane incident, at least it was resolved on the field. At least the French superstar didn't run to his computer to tattle tale to the world what Materazzi had said. Thankfully, most trash talk stays between the white lines. It's doubtful most athletes really think your sister is a whore, or that you're gay, or do unnatural things with and to your mother. It's part of the game, words said in heated instances, most times to a premeditated and tactical advantage. Shame on those who aren't smart enough to get that and react accordingly.
But in this age of social networking where we're all compelled to Tweet or update our Facebook status that we're at Starbucks having that much-need latte, every piece of minutiae about your life is fair game for the world to see apparently. Social networking is the new status symbol. If it's on Facebook, it must be true. You've got 1,000 Twitter followers, well then hell, you must be somebody important.
It's pretty sad, however, when you take a step back and watch adults take to cyberspace to pout about contracts or something that another athlete said to them on the field of play. At least Zidane had the balls to headbutt Materazzi in the moment and dare him to say it again. I'd have more respect for Villanueva if he popped Garnett in the mouth, took his 10-game suspension like a man and moved on with his life.