Sunday, June 22, 2014

Some thoughts on soccer

I get a kick out of American sports fan criticizing soccer, as if we all made a conscious choice to follow basketball and football instead because of their supposedly superior rules. 

I follow football because it was on TV when I was a kid, and my family and friends watched it. So I did too, and I came to care about it and develop rooting interests. For some strange reason, I care (a lot) who wins Packers and Badgers games. Also, since most dudes follow football it gives me something to talk about with strangers. 

Still, when I don't have a rooting interest, I find football close to unwatchable. The officiating is arbitrary, usually terrible, yet often decisive. The game is filled with stoppages and commercials. Approximately half the players on each side of the ball are gigantic fat guys. The brutality of the game is often nauseating. Etc.

I enjoy watching soccer, but I don't watch much of it because I don't usually have a rooting interest. But I did play soccer for many years. I know the rules. And when I do care about who wins, every four years, I like it approximately as much as I like as any other sport.

Of course, like most Americans who watch soccer every four years or so, I have lots of ideas on how soccer can be improved. For example, I've seen about five goals this World Cup nullified by incorrect offside calls. This is super frustrating. The best thing about soccer, from a spectator perspective, is how exciting goals are. When one of these gigantic events is nullified by incompetence, it's really infuriating.

So here's a serious suggestion on the offside rule: get rid of it once the ball is past the penalty area, or some other arbitrary yard marker deep in the opponent's territory. In other words, there's no offside call if the ball is played from deep in the opponent's territory. This alleviates any concern about cherry picking, but eliminates a lot of the opportunity for decisively terrible calls. And we'd get some more goals, but probably not so many that it would destroy how exciting they are.

My other big complaint about soccer is that rule about not using your hands. Come on. Hands are what make us human. Think how much more exciting it would be if players could catch the ball and throw it through the goal posts. I think you'd also want to award more points if a player was able to carry it through the goal posts, but you'd have to allow tackling to prevent that. I'll have to think this through, but obviously the use of hands should be allowed.


  1. I have been making a similar suggestion on offsides for several years.

  2. That is insane Torvik. Your next post will probably be about getting rid of the 2 line pass in Hockey to loosen things up, wait......