Thursday, June 15, 2006

A few soccer thoughts

I'm in an argument with my good friend MoChassid about the relative merits of soccer.

He and I both agree that metric football can very, very boring, only he insists that it is always boring, while I mantain that a good soccer game is as exciting as any televised sporting event. [Baseball on TV is unwatchable. You either go to the game, listen on the radio, or read about it in the paper the next day.]

Ten things I like about soccer:
1 - No commercials.
2 - No time outs
3 - No play stoppage. It's non-stop action.
4 - Ticky-tack fouls are called but they don't hurt the game. You just restart from the point of the foul.
5 - Goal celebrations. They aren't illegal and nobody whines and cries about sportsmanship when a scoring player has a little bit of fun.
6 - The game isn't larded down with piles and piles of stats, and the boring analysis that accompanies it. You keep track of goals and shots and that's about it.
7 - Holding up the red car is the most dramatic official's call in sports (an ejection in baseball is a close second)
8 - When someone is sent off, the other team gets a power play for the rest of the game.
9 - During the World Cup you can root for your country and make a healthy display of patriotism.
10 - Soccer players look like human beings, not like mutants.

A few things I don't like about soccer:
1 - Boring games are hard to watch (but this is true of any sport. I don't have the patience to sit through anything on TV, save the most important games, and then only if I care about the participants.)
2 - They put corporate logos right on their uniforms. Baseball, thankfully, had a rare moment of a good taste when they canceled a plan to put adverts on the bases. In soccer, everything is for sale.
3 - The continuous, nonstop clock is one of the pluses of soccer. The clock isn't stopped for anything, not for fouls or for a ball that goes out of play and there are no time outs. The problem is that the ref has the discretion to add extra time to the game to compensate for time lost, and he can do this for any reason he feels sufficient. As a result, only the ref knows how much time is really left in a game, and he keeps this information to himself. At the end of a half, neither the viewers or the players ever know if there are 2 seconds or 2 minutes left on the clock. This is absurd, and a system that was obviously designed by Hasidim, or some other culture that has no respect for time.

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