Penalty Cards

The World Cup is on. The US played its first match against England, and didn’t lose. I thought England had the “White Pelé.” He must have been hurt, because I didn’t see him out there. I only saw some pudgy bald guy. (Zing!) All I want is for the US will advance. Although, winning a game in the knock out rounds would be wonderful.

I love the idea of FIFA. They’re the anti-NCAA. (Fuck you, and go die in a fire NCAA.) I love the idea of promotion and relegation, where entire teams move up and down.1 I love the idea of having the winners of the different national professional leagues champions play each other.3. I even love, the subject of this post, penalty cards. They just look cool, and I love how they carry over during tournament play.4

I was looking at the history of penalty cards, and learned that they are a relatively recent invention. They date back to only 1970, and were quickly adopted by other sports. What really surprised me though, is that the iconic yellow and red, aren’t the only colors.

Fencing has a black card, that’s issued for a second red card, or for something more serious such as “deliberate brutality” or refusing to salute his/her opponent. When someone receives a black card, they’re ejected from tournament and become nonperson, being refereed to only as “FENCER EXCLUDED.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Canoe polo and field hockey both have green cards. Two green cards, and you get a yellow. For some reason, field hockey made theirs triangular as well.

A hockey variation played with a ball instead of a puck, sometimes called “Russian hockey” (which the Russians call “hockey with ball,” as opposed to “hockey with puck”), but more often inexplicably called “bandy,” has just as inexplicably placed a white and a blue card in between the yellow and red cards. Yellow cards are issued to a team. A second yellow card results in a white card for the responsible player. White cards are given for five minute penalties. Blue cards are given ten minute penalties. Red cards are ejections.

Seeing these different colors, and in the case of field hockey, even different shapes. It makes me itch for a game that could be played with just the cards. Kind of like poker chips and European poker plaques.

1 If the MLB had this, the 2004 Montreal Expos could have switched places with the Las Vegas 51’s, instead of becoming the equally lackluster Washington Nationals.2

2 Like the DC mayor, I preferred the new name to be the Grays.

3 Seilg supposably is thinking about this with MLB and NPB, but I doubt it will happen, not with the MLBPA, and how well the MLB has performed in the World Baseball Classic. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Selig’s dumbest idea yet, would happen. The Baseball Gods are a hateful lot.

4 I’ve long dreamed of something similar for basketball. Five fouls per game. Fifteen per tournament/series. Maybe instead limit players to having at most three games with four or more personal fouls. That way you couldn’t remove an opposing player with a single foul.