Should a footballer feel bad for missing a penalty? Bernard Williams's notion of agent-regret might hold the answer...by Jake Wojtowicz / July 23, 2018 / Leave a comment
Football is full of errors. The misplaced pass, the shot gone awry, the bungled clearance. Few of these decide a game, and we don’t expect players to dwell on every mistake. But sometimes these actions do decide a game—then the player (and the fans) can’t help but dwell.
The most obvious time this happens is when a player misses a penalty in a shootout, but the same goes for the striker who misses an open goal or the goalkeeper who drops a clanger. How should a player react to such a mistake?
Bernard Williams’s notion of agent-regret might help us to shine some light on the missed penalties and ruined chances.
Sometimes when a player messes up, it’s their fault: they did something that they really shouldn’t have done. Some were just showing off.
Think of all the failed “Panenka” penalties where a player tries to chip the goalkeeper (but sometimes they work out), Simone Zaza’s ridiculous run-up in Euro 2016, or Mario Balotelli’s infamous backheeled shot.