Here in the UK the endless noise in the media about England goalkeeper Robert Green’s shocking howler against the USA at the World Cup has drowned out even the sound of the vuvuzelas.
“He shouldn’t have made that sort of mistake” is a commonly heard comment. Of course he shouldn’t. That’s why it’s called a mistake.
Sports people make them all the time. Why? Because they are human and humans are fallible.
In snooker, a sport played in a quiet atmosphere in which the focus is entirely on the players and where the tension grows steadily, rising until the pressure becomes almost unbearable, misses have come to define entire careers.
Willie Thorne was a technically very gifted player whose temperament clearly stopped him winning more than just his one ranking title.
Thorne had a great chance to become UK champion in 1985 when he led Steve Davis 13-7. Clearing up in the next frame, he missed the blue off its spot, a slip that would have annoyed him in the club never mind in such a prestigious tournament.
Davis won that frame and would win the match 16-14.
Jimmy White was bang in the balls in the deciding frame of his 1994 World Championship final against Stephen Hendry. After defeats in five finals, three of which were to Hendry, it looked as if finally the title would be his.
But...he snatched at a black off its spot and didn’t get another shot as Hendry coolly cleared. White never reached another Crucible final.
Rex Williams could have been world champion but for his missed blue against Alex Higgins in the deciding frame of their semi-final in the 1972 tournament.
Ken Doherty, for all his success, still cannot escape his failure to pot the final black of what would have been a 147 at the Wembley Masters final in 2000.
Mike Hallett missed the pink needing the black in addition to beat Hendry 9-2 in the 1991 Masters final and ended up losing 9-8.
Even the greats have missed balls for titles.
Steve Davis famously did so when he overcut the final black of his 1985 World Championship final against Dennis Taylor.
Stephen Hendry missed a much tougher black – a re-spotted one at that – against Mark Williams in the deciding frame of their 1998 Masters final.
The difference, though, is that Davis and Hendry carried on winning, did not have their confidence destroyed and their mistakes, though obviously disappointing, are effectively footnotes in their careers.
Others find it much more difficult to escape the feeling of what might have been.