Sunday, July 09, 2006

I Love Soccer But Enough Already

The problem with soccer is that even the best players in the world aren't that good at it. Okay, Zidane was great against Brazil - I even watched most of the match a second time. I am a soccer fan, but I have seen enough for a good long while. Give me an occasional match from Manchester United and I'll have my soccer fix. Better yet, give me an NFL scrimmage. There are several things about soccer that wear you down, and most times when the camera pans the audience you can see the frustration and tedium on their faces as well. 1. The referee has too much control over the outcome. That is why there are so many ref scandals like the current one in Italy. With one goal often making the difference the ref can award a penalty kick to any number of the dramatic fake dives in the box and it's game over. 2. The dives. We need Olympic judges holding up numbers from one to ten here. There is so much acting in soccer that it really becomes quite annoying. Players are rewarded for faking injuries with a chance to rest and a free kick. The acting is ridiculous. 3. The advantage of the goalie. The goalie's powers are too great jumping in to diffuse another chance because he can catch the ball, and everyone else can't. Then you get one of the most annoying spectacles in soccer: The know-it-all goalie who has just caught the ball, screaming at his teammates: "There, I had to save your asses again! Can I get some support here, please?" 4. Finally there is the paucity of golden chances. When the planets align and the ball is finally in "space" as the annoying announcers say, the world class soccer players, being only human, are often so excited - finally, finally there is a chance to score - that they immediately kick the ball ten yards high or wide.
Soccer is a game of a thousand failures for one success. The off-sides rule is annoying but I understand the need for it. So how would I make soccer better? Make the goal twice as big. Maybe 2 feet taller and the rest in length. Have the goalie's job be to get the ball from the back of the net more, and to lecture everybody about what they did wrong, less.
Conclusion: I'm just a little bit burned out right now. Soccer is a great game - a beautiful game. I just wish the best soccer players in the world were better at it.


At 10:55 AM, Blogger Torrid said...

Gotta give you #1.
#2 as well, to a certain extent, but anybody who watched the NBA finals knows there's plenty of acting in that sport as well. Plus it's betting better.
#3 I find ridiculous. If the goalkeeper couldn't use his hands, the game would suck. And he's not so much screaming at his teammates, as aligning them. The keeper is the undisputed field general on set pieces and as the opposition attacks. It's his responsibility to align players so they don't block his view, and so they mark every attacker.

#4 is maybe the result of not seeing a high-class soccer game up close. They're not just slamming their feet into the ball, they're both placing it and attempting to place spin on it. And they're doing it at a full run, on reflex in many cases. Baseball pitchers get as much time as they want, and they STILL throw the ball over the catcher's hed sometimes.


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