It's OK, boys: Score first!

Just when ESPN retires its graphic, second-goal scorers take a back seat at Euro 2008.

Published June 13, 2008 6:05PM (EDT)

I haven't been able to see every match of Euro 2008, but I've caught about half of them so far, and it looks like ESPN has stopped giving the record of teams that score first every time a team scores first.

I might just be missing it. I'm mostly watching the second game each day, which starts around 11:30 a.m. local time, so I'm half in the bag already.

But assuming that's not the case, it's good to know the powers that be at the Worldwide Leader read this column, which has been explaining for years that it's the second goal, not the first, that's the key to victory in soccer and hockey. This column has even developed an international reputation for espousing this brilliant theory.

But ESPN's timing is terrible. For once in this tournament, teams that score first actually have a better record than teams that score second. That's the thing, fellow mathematicians. Stats are tricky!

Here's the record of the team that's scored each goal in the first 13 games, including the just-concluded 1-1 tie between Italy and Romania. Netherlands vs. France is the nightcap Friday. There's been one scoreless tie.

Goal 1: 9-1-2
Goal 2: 7-1-2
Goal 3: 4-1
Goal 4: 1-1
Goal 5: 1-0

So in Euro 2008 managers are able to eschew their usual advice -- "Get out there and score second, boys!" -- and tell their charges it's OK to score first. And ESPN's missing the story!

By King Kaufman

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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