Numerous Zeros

There was a crisis in the football tournament – all the games were finishing 0-0.  No one was scoring any goals and no one was conceding any goals.  There had been nine games so far, and so far there had been no goals.

The final scores in the games had been 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0 and 0-0.

At first, fans and pundits alike denounced the tournament as boring, but it soon became clear that now everyone was anticipating the first goal so much that they were rapt as never before, their eyes glued to the action so as not to miss it.

As far as the players were concerned, they were nervous wrecks.

The attackers had seen attackers on other teams fail to score and had lost all confidence in their ability – it now seemed impossible to imagine that anyone could ever score a goal again.  They tried as hard as they could, but now they were trying so hard that they could barely function – when they received the ball they were so tense they could hardly move.

Meanwhile, the defenders were more focussed on keeping the ball away from their goal than ever before.  It was clear to them that to be part of the defence that finally conceded the first goal of this tournament would be a source of eternal embarrassment.

Three more games finished without a goal being scored.  0-0, 0-0, 0-0.

It was beginning to become something quite beautiful.  When fans were filling out their wallcharts, they could see each little white box filled with a perfect round zero.  They watched the games from the edges of their seats and now when the players contrived to come close to scoring, they did not pray for that elusive goal, instead they crossed their fingers and hoped that the ball would somehow stay out, that the run would be preserved.

And so, just when it seemed that there was nothing anybody could do to guarantee that a goal would be scored at some point, the realisation dawned that there was nothing anybody could do to guarantee that a goal would not be scored.  In fact, it began to seem dully inevitable.

0-0, 0-0.

And then.  In the fifteenth match of the tournament.  A defender, perhaps now lackadaisical in the asumption that a goal could not be scored, let the ball run past him.  It allowed an attacker to run through.  He, perhaps now carefree having given up all hope of ever scoring, swung his foot at the ball.  He struck it cleanly, it arced up in to the air, beat the keeper and hit the back of the net.

For a moment, none of this seemed real, but once everyone realised it was, the overriding feeling was one of disappointment.  Even fans of the team who had just scored turned away in disgust, before turning back to hurl abuse at their players.

There were some minor riots in the streets.

Nobody paid any attention whatsoever to the rest of the tournament.


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