Monday, July 12, 2010

I don't get it.

I inexplicably watched the World Cup final yesterday between the Netherlands and Spain.

I understand that most of the world loves soccer...and I have no problem with that.

Look, the rules to soccer appear pretty simple, from what I can see and I figure that's why so many people, including a huge number of people in this country, love playing this sport.

So, from what I can see, the basic points to soccer are:
  • When a player from the one team makes contact with a player from the other team (or gets really close to that player), that first player falls on the ground and pretends to role around in pain.
  • After that player falls on the ground and puts on that act, the whistle is blown by the referee and play is stopped.
  • When the whistle is blown the the referee, one of the players of the opposite team goes up to the referee and yells and screams at him.  
  • The referee then takes out a little yellow card, writes down the players, name and phone number, and then he holds it up.  
  • Then the team with the best actor gets a free kick where he has to hit the ball over the heads of the entire other other team and into the grandstands.  
The funny thing was I was really having a hard time figuring out what the objective of the game was.  After 2 hours, I really wasn't quite sure how you were supposed to win the game.  Finally, after one of the described performances above, the referee took out a red card and the Netherlands then became shorthanded putting Spain on a 11 to 10 man advantage.  I think this is a power play or something.

Then Spain scored a goal....which, with all the other theatrics and poor acting...was actually the point of the game.  It's funny, because they sure didn't act like that was the point of the game for the first 115 minutes.

So, I don't get it.

But seriously now, the rules of soccer are relatively simple, kick the ball into the goal...don't touch the ball with your hands.  That's it.

The soccer enthusiasts out there will tell me that it is much more complicated than that.  I believe you.  There are probably significant strategies that are used and formations that the untrained eye would not be able to recognize.

But, from what I can tell, as far as the World Cup is concerned, you basically are at the mercy of the bounce of the ball at any one time and at the mercy of the referee. soccer, especially World Cup soccer, is very low scoring.  That doesn't bother me.  But the fact that World Cup soccer is such a low scoring sport and that the scoring appears to be affected by decisions made by the referee really doesn't sit well with me.  Now, I don't know this for fact, but when the U.S. was still playing, I heard from a number of people that in a couple of the games, the U.S. didn't win because the referee disallowed a goal or something.  So, I stand by that statement...and if that isn't the usual case, well then the U.S. fans need to shut up.

So what would I do to make soccer a little more palatable for me and many other people in the U.S.?

Well, first, get rid of about 3 or 4 players on both sides to open up the field a bit more.  Part of the problem with World Cup soccer is that the field appears too cluttered.  You kick the ball at the goal, you likely will have about 5 guys in the way between the ball and the goal.  Scoring becomes a pretty rare commodity.

Second, allow contact!  This would hurt offense, but it would be more entertaining, and it would cut down on the crying and acting on the field, and it then takes the referee out of the equation a bit more.  That doesn't mean excessive contact should be allowed, but these little bumps that were being called "fouls" should be allowed.

Third...make it illegal for soccer coaches to wear scarfs.

No!  Wrong!

Ok...go ahead...flame away.  I gave it a chance.  But, I'm sorry, I don't get it.