Mark & Steve – Euro 2008

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Mark and Steve talk about the ongoing European Cup soccer tournament and about sports in general.

Mark: Hello again, Mark here with Steve.

Steve: Hi Mark.

Mark: Hi Steve.

Steve: You know I’ve heard people say that they think our voices sound too similar.

So what I should do is I should hold my nose and kind of talk like this so that people can tell us apart.

Mark: That’s a good idea. I think that’s good training too for all our listeners.

Steve: Right.

Mark: A little different sound.

Steve: Well, you know, we’ve had people as for…who was it now?

Someone…oh yes, we had a learner from Japan who was living in Hong Kong and working for a bank where all the English speakers there were either English or Australian.

Mark: Right.

Steve: And he spoke excellent English; I can’t remember who it was.

And he said can’t we get some content in Australian and English.

Mark: Right.

Steve: We do need some different accents.

Mark: Yeah, for sure.

Steve: Should I imitate an Australian accent here? No, I don’t think so.

Mark: I’m not sure that that would cut it.

Steve: Not the same.

You know before we get into our subject, whatever the subject is going to be, I would just comment or thinking to myself, boy, everything looks nicer when you have nice weather.

Don’t you think?

Mark: For sure.

Steve: We get quite a bit of rain here in Vancouver and the last few days it’s been sunny and you just look at the trees and the ocean and the colors and everything seems nicer.

Mark: Well maybe that’s partly a function of us having such crummy weather a lot of the time.

But this June, in particular, has been quite bad weather wise, so now when we get some nice days back-to-back everything looks great.

I mean it is summertime, everything’s flowering, everything’s green.

I mean all that rain we do get certainly makes everything very green here.

Steve: And, of course, variety too.

I think if we had nothing but sunny weather every day we’d get tired of it.

Mark: Yeah, that’d be no good.

Steve: We wouldn’t want that, no. You know it makes me think of soccer.

Mark: Yeah.

Steve: When you look at the different countries in the world where they play soccer, now the English, they have to play in the rain all the time.

Mark: Right.

Steve: Okay? Whereas the Spanish and the Italians they get to play in the sunshine.

Mark: Right.

Steve: I mean I would think that has to make the Spanish and the Italians better.

Mark: I’ve got to believe that’s the case.

I mean it’s much easier to handle a ball when it’s dry; when the field’s dry, when the ball’s dry, when your shoes are dry.

I’ve got to imagine that would have an impact on your skills.

But, you know, it’s not like it rains all the time in England either.

Steve: No, but a lot of the time the only thing you can do with the ball is kick it down the field, I would think.


Mark: Maybe it’s good training to try and handle it when it’s wet.

Maybe they develop better skills that way, I don’t know.

Steve: Possibly; although, they’ve had their difficulties in the European Cup.

Mind you, the Dutch did very well until their recent loss.

Have you been following the European Cup at all?

Mark: Well I haven’t watched a lot of it, but I’ve watched some of the last handful of games.

I mean it is exciting once you start watching, you know, especially when you start in a tournament format with how ever many teams there are.

I don’t know how many they start with, but then to follow it as different teams get eliminated and, obviously, you have your favorite teams that you’re hoping do well.

I did see Holland and Russia and that was an exciting game.

There were a lot of good chances both ways and goals were scored, which is not always the case in soccer.

And, of course, I thought the team that played the best won that game which, again, doesn’t always seem to happen in soccer.

Steve: No; although, it’s interesting reading the paper because I’m not such a keen student of soccer.

But it seemed like the Dutch were playing a very offensive and attractive style of soccer and they did well until they were eliminated.

And the Portuguese were playing an open and offensive kind of soccer and they were eliminated.

And the Spanish had been playing a very, again, offensive style of soccer and they were almost eliminated.

I mean they were a 0-0 game against the Italians, so you kind of get the impression that there’s no benefit in having an offensive style.

It seems that the odds are in favor of the team that plays a defensive but uninteresting style of soccer.

Mark: Yeah, I mean you hear that.

I also don’t know enough about soccer to judge, all I can judge by is when I watch the game, you know, who seems to be having more chances.

I mean certainly in the Holland-Russia game I thought the Russians had more offense than the Dutch did.

I thought the Dutch weren’t very effective in trying to make plays.

They seemed on their heels a lot of the time and they finally managed to tie it up and then, I don’t know, they didn’t have much offense after that.

Whereas, the Russians seemed to have a lot of good chances around the other teams; maybe that’s because the Dutch were trying to force the play and turn the ball over and the Russians then…maybe that creates openings.

I mean I know in hockey very often that happens.

If one team has a lot of pressure on, doesn’t score and the puck gets turned over, that creates opportunities for the other team, so teams do play that defensive style looking for the turnover.

Steve: But the other thing I’d like to ask you about having played a lot of competitive hockey or sports, specifically hockey in your case, it seems for the fan it’s difficult to understand that a certain team can play very well for two or three or four games and then come out on the fifth day and just play terribly.

That there seems to be, not only at the level of individuals but at the level of a whole team, this momentum shift that takes place.

A team can be riding this very positive momentum and all of a sudden they just come out and look terrible.

How does that happen?

Mark: You know probably if I could answer that question I could make a lot of money in the sports psychology business, but I mean that just is the way it is.

Some days you feel great, some days you don’t feel so good and what’s funny is that very often it sort of affects the whole team.

It’s not like one individual doesn’t feel good today, it’s sort of like everybody is kind of nervous.

Steve: Well you can get one individual and he gets carried by the team.

Mark: Right, but as you say, there are times when it looks like the whole team is nervous.

They look like they’re running in quicksand; they just don’t seem to be able to play.

I mean I guess it’s largely confidence, for whatever reason the expectations get too high or…

Steve: It can even be the luck in a particular game.

I mean you can’t say Team A beat Team B three-nothing and Team B beat Team C three-nothing, therefore Team A should just annihilate Team C.

Mark: Right.

Steve: Very often Team C comes back and beats Team A.

Mark: Yeah, for sure.

And very often, I mean you see it in hockey anyway where teams that are eliminated from the playoffs are all of a sudden very loose because they have nothing to lose and they just go out and play the game.

If they’re playing against a team that’s battling for a playoff position very often the team that’s out of contention who are playing loose win; they just play better.

They’re not worried about oh, if we don’t win then what’s going to happen.

Very often you hear coaches and commentators saying, you know, you’ve got to play to win, don’t play not to lose.

It’s sort of that mentality of playing not to lose that I think maybe Holland had in that game where they weren’t relaxed and just playing their game.

Steve: The other thing with Holland was that they had rested their number one team in the previous game because they had already qualified, so you wonder if that doesn’t take some momentum.

Whereas, the Russians who began by losing to Spain, I believe, had to fight and claw their way back, so they were still on sort of an upward path.

Whereas, the Dutch had reached a certain level and they’d sat back, now they had to go and find that spirit again.

I don’t know I’m not a psychologist, as you say.

Mark: Yeah, that definitely happens.

You sort of relax a little bit and it’s such a fine line at that level and too many other things sort of run through your head instead of just going out and playing your game.

You know a lot of the time when I was playing you start thinking about too many things and you just don’t play as well as you could have.

Sort of later on in my career I started to just not worry about things and just go out and play like a kid will play when they go out and play on the playground; just go play.

Steve: You know I hate to drag everything back to language learning, but there certainly is a parallel there with children, specifically, you gave the example.

In speaking I often think, you know, what is it that prevents people from speaking a language better.

Very often people will, you know, can understand, they have good listening skills and good reading skills and they just don’t speak well and there is some kind of a block there.

Whereas, children have no inhibitions, children just want to communicate, they’re just happy, they don’t want to think about anything, whatever they have they use.

Adults may have a lot in terms of vocabulary and knowledge and phrases, but they can’t get themselves to use it.

So I think the psychology of sports, the psychology of anything, any of our activity, even something like riding a bike, if you’re afraid that you’re going to fall off the bike — as easy as it is to ride a bike — you say holy cow, I’m on two wheels here, I’m going to fall over, you will fall over.

Mark: Yeah, for sure; for sure.

Steve: The other thing too, I remember watching you play when you were a kid, well when you were young, I guess 16 and you had a game against Russia in a tournament in Quebec City.

Your team, which was basically the British Columbia and Alberta team, put up a tremendous fight against this Russian team, which was the most powerful team at the tournament and so you played it very, very, close.

And then you came out the next day to play against Quebec, which was not as strong a team; you guys were spent, flat and I think you lost like 9 to 3 or something.

Mark: Yeah, yeah.

Steve: So there is that timing.

Was it Shakespeare who said there is a tide in the affairs of men?

Mark: Sounds like Shakespeare, I don’t know.

Steve: There is a tide in the affairs of men, which if seized at the crest…  I don’t know, I think it’s out of Julius Caesar.

But, yeah, you’ve got to catch the tide.

Mark: Well in that example that you just gave, I guess the point was there, we were in the semifinals against the Russians with the goal to make the finals, obviously.

We ended up losing that game, we just didn’t care that much about the Bronze Medal Game and we just came out flat.

No matter how much your coaches yell at you, you wakeup and even, you know, try to get yourself going, subconsciously you’re not going because you weren’t trying to win the Bronze Medal.

Very often you see that in Bronze Medal games where the team that thought they were going to make the finals comes up flat and the team that is happy to be in the Bronze Medal Game will come out and win that game.

Steve: Plus Quebec was playing in Quebec.

Mark: For sure.

Steve: So that was an additional incentive for them to perform in front of their friends and relatives.

Mark: Exactly.

Steve: For sure, yeah.

But it’s interesting this whole issue of the psychology of achievement, whether it be in sports or language.

We have a visitor.

We have a visitor here.

Come on in here!

Hi, come here Kylie; quickly, because we’re having a very important discussion here.

We’ve just had our special guest arrive.

Come here Kylie; now here, okay.

Mark: Here you go Kyle.

Steve: Now I have here a special guest who made a special trip back home from school just so he could be here.

Kylie, how was your day at school?

Kyle: Good.

Steve: Is that all you have to say?

Kyle: Um, no.

Steve: What did you learn today?

Kyle: Um, we did some art at the end of school.

Steve: Are you Leonardo da Vinci the second?

Kyle: No.

Steve: Okay. Do you know who Leonardo da Vinci is?

Kyle: Yup.

Steve: Who?

Kyle: He was like an artist and he did a bunch of other things.

Steve: Hey, very good; that’s right.

Okay, well you know what, I’ll have a separate one with Kylie.

So listen, have you got 10 minutes?

Kyle: Yeah.

Steve: I’m going to have a discussion with you.

Oh, here’s Gordie.

Say something Gordie.

Gordie’s a dog, by the way, and he’s wet, okay.

Hi Olivia.

Olivia: Hi.

Steve: Are you going to say hello? Let Olivia say hello.

Kyle: Okay.

Olivia: So you’re on the podcast?

Steve: You’re on the podcast.

What did you learn in school today Olivia?

You can’t spend forever thinking about it.

Olivia: Ah…

Steve: A lot?

Olivia: Yeah.

Steve: Okay. Was it fun?

Olivia: Yeah.

Steve: Okay. Say goodbye.

Olivia: Bye.

Steve: Oh here’s Annie.

You get to say something too Annie.

Kyle: You’re a podcaster.

Steve: You’re a podcaster.

Annie: I’m on the podcast?

Steve: Yes. Okay, hi Annie.

Annie: Hi.

Steve: How was your day at school today?

Annie: Good.

Steve: Are you glad you’re home?

Annie: Um, yeah.

Steve: Would you rather be back at school sitting in class?

Annie: No, but we went to the beach today.

Steve: You went to the beach and you didn’t sit in class?

Annie: No.

Steve: Boy, I never got to go to the beach when I was at school.

Kyle: She was on a field trip.

Annie: I was on a field trip an end of the year field trip.

Steve: Oh, very good. Okay, now I guess say goodbye to everyone.

Annie: Goodbye everyone.

Steve: Okay, bye for now.

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