The Washington Post

Soccer and Society: ‘The Newsroom’

In our latest installment of Soccer and Society, a periodic feature chronicling the intersection of the beautiful game and American life …

Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy in Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy in “The Newsroom.” (HBO)

I was catching up on episodes of “The Newsroom,” HBO’s fast-paced, crisply written and at times irritating series, when the seventh episode of the second season referenced soccer.

Mackenzie, the British executive producer of “News Night” played by Emily Mortimer, is in the office of anchor Will McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, for a scene that lends an important clue to uncovering how a video clip of an explosive story was manipulated.

In the background, UCLA is playing Cal in a televised college football game.

Mac: “Why are there two clocks?”

Will: “One’s the game clock. One’s the play clock. The game clock is showing how much time is left in the quarter and the play clock shows how much time is left to get off the play.”

Mac: “They only have a certain amount of time to complete the play?”

Will: “They only have a certain amount of time to start the play.”

Mac: “They don’t have that rule in soccer.”

Will: “They don’t have any rules in soccer. That’s why you think a game that ends in a zero-zero tie is … ”

Mac: “It’s called nil-nil.”

Will: “… a gamely fought match. I was trying to keep it from being worse. I was helping you out.”

Mac: “Do any other sports have enforced pacing? Does baseball?”

Will, with snark: “No. Pitchers commonly go for a sandwich between pitches.”

“Golf, you can be penalized for slow play. Hockey, you can hang onto the puck as long as you want but before too long, a guy named Lars is going to hurt you. Basketball has a shot clock: You’ve got 24 seconds to put up a shot, or in college, it’s 35. Tennis, you can lose a point for slow play.”

“Listen, should we be worried about the Stomtonovich call?”

Mac: “It’s on film.”

Will: “Okay.”

Mac: “I’m going to look at it again now.”

With exaggerated enthusiasm and arm-pumping, she adds: “Go Bruins! Beat the Golden Bears! Beat them as hard as you can! Beat them with impunity!”

Will: “You have no idea what you are saying.”

Mac, exiting the office: “I know.”


Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.



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Steven Goff · September 20, 2013