The Tuesday Morning Quarterback – wrapping up the weekend’s sports action a day late
It’s possible, though unlikely, that two men at opposite ends of the country were afflicted by a rare medical condition within 24 hours of each other over the weekend.
Spewlitosis is a condition that causes people to lose control of their facial expressions. There is no medical research to back this theory, but it’s highly likely professional sports coaches are vastly more susceptible than the rest of the population to the rare disorder.
A rare double strike of spewlitosis would be one explanation for both Michael Cheika and Stephen Kearney losing control of their facial muscles over the weekend.
Spewlitosis is a curious condition in that it affects its victims differently. For some, like Cheika, the symptoms are not dissimilar to Tourette’s syndrome, causing the afflicted to make unexplainable violently angry outbursts at highly inappropriate times, such as bog-standard passages of play where nothing the slightest bit disturbing nor controversial occurs.
For others, like Kearney on Sunday afternoon, the opposite effect occurs, something more akin to facial paralysis. This strain of spewlitosis afflicts the victim in such a way that when they witness incidents that should send them into paroxysms of rage they can barely muster a frown.
There is one school of thought in the medical community – the part inhabited by totally unqualified hippies and prison medics – that in very rare cases of spewlitosis the facial expressions of one victim are somehow switched with that of another.
It’s not known how this happens, but some type of fluid transfer is suspected. It’s possibly for this reason the trend for sports players to have individual rehydration bottles has now been extended to coaches.
The days of sharing a flat bottle of coke in the coaches’ box are over, with that privilege now reserved for the media.
More often than not, the source of the infection cannot be traced, and there are no definitive tests for spewlitosis. Diagnosis are made through observation alone. In this case, the evidence that Cheika and Kearney somehow cross-infected each other is strong.
Cheika’s uncontrollable rage as his Wallabies put in one of their better performances in recent times to very nearly claim a massive upset win over the All Blacks was otherwise inexplicable.
Where the rest of the world saw unblemished passages of play, Cheika appeared to be seeing larceny of the grandest order. Where the rest of us witnessed a big unco bloke tangled up in an Australian and struggling to get to his feet as an amusing aside, Cheika appeared to be witnessing a violent assault.
In fact, there was little that Cheika appeared to witness in what appeared to be a thoroughly entertaining and somewhat uncontroversial spectacle that didn’t send his rage dial flying above the red line.
We know this because, clearly concerned for our Aussie cousin’s welfare, Sky’s director kept a camera trained on the unwell coach for the entirety of the match. Initially this was amusing. But in hindsight it was cruel and unfortunate, a bit like when you laugh along at a Tourette’s sufferer before realising that they didn’t actually intend to give a small child riding by on a bicycle a gobful for no reason.
Had we known more about spewlitosis, we might not have laughed so heartily on Saturday night.
Meanwhile, in the jaded citadel that is Mt Smart Stadium, poor Stephen Kearney surely would have given anything to be able to leap from his perch in the coaches’ cell and scream about the questionable parentage and invertebrate character of players that somehow concocted a defeat against Manly from a near unassailable position.
Instead, Kearney maintained the same transfixed expression he has throughout his brief tenure at the helm of New Zealand’ sporting Lusitania.
Again, we were able to note this as the camera seldom left his expressionless boat race as his players flopped around like guppies gasping for air in the final moments of a match they deserved to win.
It’s hard not to feel sorry for a Warriors side that, despite having nothing to play for, turned in one of their better 73-minute displays this season. However, their display in those final decisive moments was criminally naïve and really quite unco.
One can only surmise that the paralysis of the mind and body that clearly kept Kearney from going all Michael Cheika on it might well have spread to some of his key players.
It’s possible, also, that the Warriors players will soon take on attributes of the Wallabies players, and vice versa.
Of course, that will be pretty much impossible to spot.