Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


World Cup: Reflections

posted by xscot mcknight

Here’s the problem with the World Cup. The problem is that they are playing soccer. And a good case in point were the games on Monday. 180 minutes of play, with another 10 or so for stoppage time, and then two overtimes, and then penalty kicks/free kicks. In that amount of time, and let’s estimate it was 220 minutes, exactly one goal was scored by an offensive player kicking the ball by the goaleegoalkeeper. That, I say, is a problem. Let me say it clearer: it is a disaster.
So, here’s the suggestions to FIFA by one who thinks sports ought to be fun and full of scoring — like a baseball game or a football game or a basketball game.
1. Allow players to be off-sides: more goals, probably lots more.
2. No intentional kicking of the ball out of bounds: keep the ball in play.
3. Overtime should be sudden death: first team to score a goal wins.
4. Players who “ham it up” everytime someone gets near them so they appear hurt should sit in some dunce box for the next game. The histrionics are unmanly.
5. Games should not end with free kicks (or whatever they are called). It would be like ending basketball with free throws, or a baseball game with pitchers throwing strikes to a catcher with no batter.
We’ve noticed something here: you can watch a game awhile, go run an errand or two and come back in an hour or so, and the game is still the same. My brother-in-law says he likes soccer because he can take a nap, wake up, and still see the whole game.
Now the only reason I watched these games was because Luke was here and he loves to watch soccer, even though he never played it as a kid. A certain Jay Baehr, a friend of his at his church in Jamestown, NY, has introduced Luke to the game, and now he plays during the off season.



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fr'nklin

posted June 29, 2006 at 5:30 am


Scot…GREAT observations here. I’m not a soccer fan at all, but through the world cup, I’ve started really getting into the game. However, it seems painfully obvious that certain changes could be made to make soccer a MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE spectator sport.
Recently, I was discussing w/ a friend why soccer would neve make it BIG in the USA…and here are my three reasons: 1) The best athletes are playing Basketball, Football and baseball – the talent pool for soccer is just not there, 2) Americans like games where someone WINS (what’s up w/ the ties in pool play???), and 3) Americans like games where men play PHYSICAL w/ one another and NO ONE CRIES!!!!!!!



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brad

posted June 29, 2006 at 5:40 am


Scot, Scot, Scot…I expected more tolerance from you, especially since you are a fan of baseball, a game that can have as little scoring with about 3% as much action (and we won’t even get into the uniforms…). the problem may lie in the fact that you are watching the matches in the USA, where there is little appreciation and the commentators are rubbish. perhaps you should have taken in a few game while you were in Italy to get a better feel for the passion of things…
having said that: most would agree that the diving problem is a major issue in football, and needs to be eradicated. the penalty shootout at the end of the match is another controversial point, with major supporters and detractors. but getting rid of the off-sides rule? c’mon. this would result in cherry pickers just hovering around the goal waiting for someone to lob them the ball.
i’m still flabbergasted you can be a baseball fan and look at soccer this way. here’s to a high scoring quarterfinals this weekend! :)



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G.L.W. Johnson

posted June 29, 2006 at 5:51 am


Scott, Greetings, we actually met at T.E.D.S back in the early 80’s. I was the T.A. to the late S.Lewis Johnson, Jr. This the best post I’ve read at this site! I think you have found you niche. Keep up the good work!



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Nick Mackison

posted June 29, 2006 at 6:05 am


Scot,
The game is loved in almost every country in the world except the US. It is the world’s most popolar sport with baseball, American football and basketball not even close in terms of worldwide popularity. (The fact that you have the “World Series” involving only US teams is revealing!)
So my point is this, why should it change? It is popular enough.
Nick ;-)
PS Each game is 90 minutes.
PPS “Soccer” is not the name by which the sport calls itself. That is a name concocted by Americans to differentiate it from their own ‘football’. The world governing body FIFA stands for Fédération Internationale de FOOTBALL Association and every club side in the world refers to itself as a football club (eg my team is Glasgow Rangers Football Club). Here endeth the lesson.



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Mark Heath

posted June 29, 2006 at 6:20 am


Oh dear. Why is it that all the American blogs I am subscribed to have decided to criticise ‘soccer’ this week? Could it be sour grapes that team USA have crashed out



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Simon Hardwick

posted June 29, 2006 at 6:28 am


Great comment Nick.
Football is a global sport, played and watched by billions! To start offering suggestions on how to make it more popular seems so funny!
Scot, we are still praying for your conversion!



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Mark Heath

posted June 29, 2006 at 6:40 am


…accidentally posted before finishing.
You say “games ought to be full of scoring”. But that is an argument for awarding a point to everyone who successfully kicks the ball. Perhaps an added point for every yard the ball travels. A point for running. A point for jumping. A point for having your shirt tucked in and your socks pulled up. Maybe you could get rid of the goals and have “end-zones” … oh wait, you’ve already done that.
Good sports are like good sermons. They don’t have many points, but when they come they were worth waiting for.



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Scot McKnight

posted June 29, 2006 at 7:02 am


Soccer, the name we use for this game to distinguish it from “football,” is the most popular sport in the world … but if those countries had found baseball first, there would be no contest.
On the “World” series: that’s fair, typical American bravado, but there is the simple facts, too, and each Major league team has plenty of Latin Americans. There’s some Canadians, and the little catcher we saw at Beloit the other day was Australian, and a pitcher from Holland.
On adding points for running… c’mon I’m not for that.
Let’s hope the quarters are each 5-4 games with no penalty kicks, and a diaper (or nappy) for the “divers.”



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solly

posted June 29, 2006 at 7:09 am


We call Baeball ’rounders’ in the UK. It’s played by girls. So is hockey. But then, so is football these days. Yecch.
Now, Rugby, that’s a man’s game, and they don’t need padding, and time outs, and cheerleaders…



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Kent

posted June 29, 2006 at 7:13 am


Cubs vs. Pirates – there is an event that will hold your attention. Be still my heart.



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Scot McKnight

posted June 29, 2006 at 7:15 am


Solly,
I’m with you on Rugby. When we lived in Notts, I went to the local games at Attenborough every chance I got. Good game. We call rugby over here “football.” It’s our variation on your great game.
But, I’ve not yet figured out whether or not I like Aussie Rules Football. The best part for me is that referee’s way of declaring a score.



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Scot McKnight

posted June 29, 2006 at 7:16 am


On the “180” minutes … I was counting two games. Each of 90 minutes. Then stoppage time (funny expression you’ll have to admit). Then two more 15-minute periods. No matter how you add it, one legitimate goal. Something’s got to be done before this weekend.



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Lukas McKnight

posted June 29, 2006 at 7:34 am


Don’t let Scot totally fool you- he was glued to the tube watching Rooney and England. He and my mom cheered on Beckham’s free kick.
And before we discuss soccer not being big in the US, the TV ratings have been pretty huge for this World Cup. But we really need Derrick Rae to do the commentating rather than Dave O’Brien.



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Jim

posted June 29, 2006 at 7:37 am


Probably a lesson here for our “I want it now and lots of it” culture of this generation in America. Soccer is more about delayed gratification. Games go on and on and on with brief seconds of ectasy when a goal is scored. A lot like life…



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Nick Mackison

posted June 29, 2006 at 7:41 am


Can I qualify my harsh invective with a confession that as a Scotsman, I am very bitter that my nation is not represented at the World Cup.
The only sports we seem to produce champions at these days are those where large amounts of alcohol can be consumed before, during and after proceedings i.e. snooker and darts.
We’re also good at Elephant Polo.



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Scot McKnight

posted June 29, 2006 at 7:41 am


Jim
I knew someone would find a parable here.



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Scot McKnight

posted June 29, 2006 at 7:44 am


Nick,
I remember watching a darts tournament on TV in England, with a fella from Derby (John something), with a beer in one hand with a cigarette in the same hand’s fingers, and throwing a dart, and about falling from my chair when the announcer claimed these were some of the finest athletes in the world.



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RJS

posted June 29, 2006 at 7:54 am


17 comments in two hours, a hot topic. Come on Franklin, soccer will be the hottest game in America before long. Just look at what is happening in the schools. Soccer leagues, both rec level and travelling teams, both for boys and girls, are ubiquitous. Even in the north it is Spring, Summer and Fall.
If/when you have grandchildren you will be watching soccer – pretty much guaranteed.



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Nick Mackison

posted June 29, 2006 at 7:58 am


Yes Scot, I’m afraid that what constitutes an athlete in many parts of Britain consists merely in being able to throw sharp stuff accurately. America has a reputation for fat people, but Glasgow’s fast food shops produced the deep fried Mars Bar.



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andii

posted June 29, 2006 at 8:11 am


I’m with the peops who have given you a mild wrist-slapping here Scot.
First off: ‘Football” implies something played mainly with feet. ‘American football’ should cede the title forthwith to ‘soccer’ and call itself more descriptively: TRC -“throwing, running and crashing” should do the trick.
But honestly, what does the rest of the world understand perfectly clearly that some laggard USA’ers don’t seem to get? I could make similar crits of US national sports: all that silly razzmatazz which adds nothing to the game; all the stoppages for messing about with positions and players… and what about all that wussy padding? -If you can’t do a sport without that kind of protection, you shouldn’t be doing it -how are you supposed to play it on street corners and playgrounds? [That’s the real secret of association football’s success -you can play a downscaled version very easily] And what’s this about scoring lots making for more interesting spectacle? Give me a break: how boring is basketball; precisely because there is too much scoring. And actually football [fifa-style] often has a goodly number of goals and when it doesn’t it’s usually because there is a lot of good play going on. High scoring games are usually found where less skill is being exercised.
I think you have a point about the way that draws are resolved in knock-out competitions: but this is something that they are still experimenting with. They’ve even tried your ‘golden goal’ suggestion [play until someone scores]. I would prefer a different final resolution from the penalty shoot-out but no-one has come up with a good one yet. As to the offside rule; no, you can’t give a goal-hangers’ charter, it’d ruin the game -watching junior informal games where they don’t do offside shows you just what a good idea it is to have and offside rule, in principle. However, I still think that a 25metre zone might be an interesting experiment [you could only be offside in the 25m zone].
I can’t quite understand the aversion to draws: in a league [even a mini league like the World cup’s first stage], the permutations of point for draws and wins makes the anticipation of matches interesting and gives loads of conversations about scenarios.
Oh and note: this whole comment is brought to you by the ;-p emoticon!



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preacherman

posted June 29, 2006 at 8:14 am


I keep finding it interesting how arrogant America is even when it comes to sports. Soccer doesn’t need to be changed at all. It ,is the most popular sport in the world. Maybe it is the US that needs to change and catch up with the rest of the world. Golf boring….Watching baseball on television extremely boring (I guess thats why they throw bases, chairs, bats, run the mound,fight…so people might want to actually watch it)…American Football wear pads, helmets, and say it is a man’s sport. Soccer is the mans sport. Our professional athlete’s in America are accused rapists, drug addicts, spouse abusers, steriod injected. I take a John something anyday. Soccer is the worlds sport. Personally I think the MLS and US National team needs to learn compete with the rest of the world. I love soccer especially the EPL (not american soccer becuase it is different pace, style of play from the rest of the world; that is why US team is watching the cup). In the eyes of the rest of the world soccer will remain the best sport despite what America thinks. So, are we going to catch up with the rest of the world or not. GO BRAZIL!!!!



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michael bells

posted June 29, 2006 at 8:17 am


Scott,
you have hit a topic that will stir people up – football – not the American or Canadian [which is better than the American] kind – is played worldwide. And people are passionate about their football.
You suggest a number of changes
1. Allow players to be off-sides: more goals, probably lots more. NO. The moving off-side line is part of what makes football interesting
2. No intentional kicking of the ball out of bounds: keep the ball in play. There is not a lot of this – most of the time the intentional kicking out of bounds is because of a downed player – & did you notice how the team which then has the ball, will give it back – very sportsman like.
3. Overtime should be sudden death: first team to score a goal wins. I’m glad they have replaced the golden goal with the – it’s more like basketball than hockey
4. Players who “ham it up” everytime someone gets near them so they appear hurt should sit in some dunce box for the next game. The histrionics are unmanly. This is an area I would agree with – diving or as it is officially called simulation needs to be called more.
5. Games should not end with free kicks (or whatever they are called). It would be like ending basketball with free throws, or a baseball game with pitchers throwing strikes to a catcher with no batter. That’s why there is not to 30 minutes of extra time – it’s an incentive to score – poor Switzerland’s show on free kicks is unusual.
& I write this even though Canada does not have a team in the world cup – although Canada’s Christine Sinclair, a soccer student-athlete at Portland, won the Honda-Broderick Cup as NCAA woman athlete of the year. And we will host the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2007.
Go Brazil – World Cup 2006



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Scot McKnight

posted June 29, 2006 at 8:20 am


Preacherman,
You’re from Texas talking like that?! In a State that stops every Friday night for high school football games?!
By the way, that “John something” was not a soccer player but a dart player.
I apologize to the world’s soccer/football fans if I sound “arrogant.” What I’m trying to express is “incomprehension.”



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Simon

posted June 29, 2006 at 8:26 am


As a possible token Australian here – I must say that anyone takes a bold stance who decries the world’s only truly international game. Where else can small African nations compete with European giants, or Micronesian nations of 3 figure populations go head to head with the US? (Hmm – ok maybe that one was a bit stretched)
I think Jesus would have loved soccer because it at least appears one of the more internationally egalitarian of sports.
But he also would have loved Australian rules – there is a lot of cheek turning, doing unto others and non-violent sharing of apparel there!



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Bald Man

posted June 29, 2006 at 8:28 am


I was all prepared to fire off a scathing defense of soccer, but until something is done about the flipping and the flopping and the crying every time a player goes down due to what I can only assume is gunfire or an aneurism, I’m forced to keep my indignation to myself.
I love the game. I can even handle a nil-nil draw – Trinidad’s opening match was a highlight! But the histrionics! In the words of Jon Lovitz, “Acting! Brilliant! Thank you!”



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Paul D.

posted June 29, 2006 at 8:45 am


Here’s my problem with soccer, or futbol: what most distinguishes human beings from lower order animals, besides intelligence (which is questionable in some), is manual dexterity (even among lefties). Yet in futbol, only the goalie is allowed to use hands. I rest my case.
By the way, baseball is not the same as rounders.



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preacherman

posted June 29, 2006 at 8:53 am


I have to be honest with myself no matter how much I like High School Football or how big it is in Texas…Soccer will always be the best sport in the world.



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Scot McKnight

posted June 29, 2006 at 8:58 am


Preacherman,
I have a new respect for you: you are courageous to be like that in Texas.



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preacherman

posted June 29, 2006 at 9:01 am


Thanks Scot, that means alot.



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preacherman

posted June 29, 2006 at 9:07 am


In Texas soccer may not be the sport for Bubba, Tooter, or Chaw that is why they like Fridy Night Football and NASCAR.



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Trevor

posted June 29, 2006 at 10:17 am


Hey Scott—come to Africa and watch kids play with makeshift goals and barefeet on a piece of open veld for hours and hours( without scoring goals )just for the sheer joy of playing and somehow it becomes a parable about wasting time doing the thing ones loves…let me not begin to preach!!
Thanks Scott for a great blog—it has been a ministry of grace in my life.



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fr'nklin

posted June 29, 2006 at 11:35 am


Do we have the British to thank for exporting Soccer to the world? I need to do some studying on the history of this sport. Anyone know anything about it?
I have LOVED the WC…wouldn’t miss a game for anything, but RJ…you’re wrong…Soccer will NEVER be THE SPORT in the USA…not enough talent – football, baseball and basketball will always rule here…they were talking about how great soccer would be in the US 25 years ago…not much changin’.



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Randy

posted June 29, 2006 at 11:53 am


“…by an offensive player kicking the ball by the goalee…”
I prefer to be called Keeper. I’m not affended by Goalkeeper either. Goalie is someone who likes ice. I think it’s funny there’s so much talk about this on here. I can’t believe I’m going to post this….



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andii

posted June 29, 2006 at 12:07 pm


Yeh, the Brits exported our version of football. Of course, it was often fertile ground because lots of peoples had games where numbers of men chased a ball around and attempted to kick it through a space or over a line, it kind of put a bit of order into that.
The wikipedia article looks pretty okay [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football and follow the links] though it’s not got a good history of the spread of the game which, if memory serves me aright, was a lot about British trading links and it being a working class game.
In the wikipedia link to “association football” there is the following quote, just for perspective. “over 240 million people regularly play football in more than 200 countries in every part of the world. Its simple rules and minimal equipment requirements have no doubt aided its spread and growth in popularity.”
And we might add there is a growing women’s game -which the USA did really well in internationally last time round.
Never is a long time to hold out against the rest of the world, especially when there’s a lot of Latin Americans immigrating to the US and when other migrants also tend to have ‘soccer’ as their preferred team sport. The difficulties with real football in the USA are probably those identified by Robert Weintraub writing in The Slate: “What truly ails American players is their lack of experience against the best. The Ghanaian team, for example, is largely composed of players for whom the intensity of a World Cup is not altogether different from their weekly club battles in Europe. Until the day when the majority of American players get paid in Euros—not just a handful—we’ll never sniff the World Cup title.”
The USA needs to get onboard with this sporting lingua franca, seriously: you guys need this to help grok the rest of the world -and vice versa. Time to end sporting isolationism and join planet earth.



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Doug Chaplin

posted June 29, 2006 at 4:19 pm


You mean you don’t appreciate a game that isn’t built round commercial breaks?! At least your US-centric view of what makes sport good is nowhere near as bad as some: see
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/012/384qgmke.asp?pg=1 for a bit of totally pseudo-intellectual isolationist lunacy:
“Another reason why soccer will never enthrall Americans is that the game is contrary to nature.” Puh-leeeze!



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Larry

posted June 29, 2006 at 4:27 pm


I find it funny that American will watch American football because it is lots of action, where there is about 40-45 minutes of play over a three hour period, where every 5-10 seconds everybody stops and stands around for 35 seconds.
But they say soccer is slow even through soccer is nonstop action for 90-110 minutes.
I would watch soccer anyday over American football. It is more exciting,with better atheletes (both skill and condition).
Of course the flopping is quite funny. It is part of the game, trying to get calls. But some hits that look weak are actually solid hits. Watching Brian McBride get elbowed looked pretty weak at first until I saw the replay.



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Hans

posted June 29, 2006 at 5:18 pm


Okay, I finally found it in comment #23:
“I apologize to the world’s soccer/football fans if I sound “arrogant.” What I’m trying to express is “incomprehension.”-Scot McKnight.
Thank you, Scot. I can enjoy your books and blog once again.
What is the record for comments on a JC blog entry? This one may set it. It seems many soccer fans are into theology.
btw – out here on the W. Coast the World Cup final starts at 11:00 AM on Sunday, July 9 – right in the middle of our church service – and I’m the pastor!



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Scot McKnight

posted June 29, 2006 at 7:40 pm


Hans,
I’ve had over 150 comments on a post or two, so this one is small potatoes.
Your dilemma of a soccer game during morning worship is no dilemma for me. If you get home by 12:30 you’ll probably see everything anyway! Even those snoozing at home or at church who wake by then we’ll see most of it.
Larry,
On football being boring. Not getting it, friend. When watching football or soccer, you can read a book while you watch. During baseball there is too much mental work going on to be able to read, unless it is a blowout, which is something we’ve seen plenty of this summer in Cubland.



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Michael Kruse

posted June 29, 2006 at 7:44 pm


I played soccer for a club team in college. (Some would debate whether “played” is an accurate description.) I loved it! Probably one of the best actitivities I have ever been involved in.
I think the big problem for Americans is they have not played the game. There is a method to the what appears to the American eye to be players randomly running around the field.
One of the more interesting cross-cultural experiences I have had happened in graduate school. My roommates and I had three guys over from India to watch the World Series. They wanted to understand baseball. We went through two innings before we realized our Indian friends had no clue what was going on. First, there was a picture of a guy standing on a hill firing a ball. The picture then snapped to a guy swinging a bat and hitting the ball. Then the picture changed to some guy running across a field toward a wall, looking over his shoulder. He caught the ball and threw it. Then the picture switched to a guy with his foot on a white bag swinging his glove at another guy who was sliding at the bag. The whole thing was discombobulated. They didn’t know where anyone was in realtion to anyone else. We had to get out whiteboard a draw a ball field and explain the plays before they began to grasp it. I think we take for granted how much of sport we pick up by osmosis.
Futbol is true globalization. Virtutally every nation on the face of the planet plays the game but one. With more kids playing soccer and more people coming to the US from other countries, the words of the Borg from Star Trek ring true.
“You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile!”



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Scot McKnight

posted June 29, 2006 at 7:56 pm


Michael,
I once played soccer and got four field goals: kicking the ball low was not my cup of tea.
Let me resist, though. First, you got it right that soccer is an “activity.” I’ll agree. Lots of it. Not much happening, but lots of it going on.
Baseball is beautiful. Read Tom Boswell’s books, say Why Time Begins on Opening Day (something like that). Then read Bart Giamatti’s Take Time for Baseball. It is the writers and readers game; name a good book about soccer that even approaches Giamatti’s masterpiece of Renaissance literature. 8)
Here, then, is our choice: beauty or activity. :)



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Simon Hardwick

posted June 30, 2006 at 3:33 am


Scot,
I’m afraid Football (thats soccer to you) has already beaten you to the title: “The Beautiful Game”.
See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beautiful_Game
When watching football or soccer, you can read a book while you watch. During baseball there is too much mental work going on to be able to read..
Being an Englishman watching England play is a highly mentally draining experience. Hospitals throughout the UK are on a higher alert during England matches due to an increase in heart attacks etc.
So, between a choice of beauty or activity: Football has them both…in bucket loads!



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Doug johnson

posted June 30, 2006 at 9:52 am


Scot,
A little something from an American living in Thailand. I did not grow up with fotbal and don’t quite understand the finer points. I get bored watching it and find the faking injury somehow unbecoming of sport. But my friends will get up at 2:00 AM to watch the world cup or even Manchester on occasion. Rather than concluding ‘enough said”, I find that I must conclude that my narrow cultural perspective must lead me to not enjoying this sport like so many in the world who play it almost from birth



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preacherman

posted July 1, 2006 at 1:20 am


Did anyone get to see the Germany/Argentina game?
Now that was an awesome game!



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andii

posted July 1, 2006 at 6:18 am


Wasn’t it? Made even more fun by the passion of the Argentine players which led to a punch up when they lost! Not really – of course I don’t condone violence. However, it does illustrate the passion that the game generates.



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Paul J

posted July 1, 2006 at 8:15 am


Scot – you disappoint me. This is the kind of foolishness that brought us the DH in baseball, eliminated the zone defense in the NBA, and worse yet gave birth to Arena football.



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Scot McKnight

posted July 1, 2006 at 8:29 am


Paul,
It can’t be. I’m against the DH, for zone defenses, and I wouldn’t come out of a pouring rain for shelter if it meant having to watch Arena football.
Are you suggesting “wanting more scoring” is behind all this: to me the no off-sides rules is some kind of gentlemanly approach to competition.
C’mon Paul, you’re a Reds fan. Do you think that 0-0 (nil-nil) game yesterday that ended with penalty kicks is how a great game should end? How about reducing each team a player every three minutes?
Penalty kicks ends a game the way a free throw contest would end basketball and a strike zone contest a baseball game.
By the way Paul, good for the Reds.



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andii

posted July 1, 2006 at 8:40 am


I happen also to think that penalties as a bad way to end a game. However, not everyone thinks so: the drama of kicker versus ‘keeper; a psychological contest, and the wondering whether a miss or a goal will be decisive … lots of people think that is high drama and worthy of two gunslingers facing each other down in Dodge City. Personally I would prefer something like the reducing players idea or even a penalty like in ice hockey where the taker starts at the centre and would run at goal … that’d be a lot of fun.
But -these are things that are peripheral to the game. Sometimes -perhaps often- a draw is a fair reflection of the game and we should be content. This whole thing about winners and losers all the time; a USA obsession: you guys are culturally over-competitive sometimes.
And another thing; be careful on the whole thing about wanting more scoring more quickly and finding it boring to have a lot happening but no climax. A Freudian analysis would be interesting but not too complimentary! …



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Paul J

posted July 1, 2006 at 8:57 am


I love the “wouldn’t come out of a pouring rain for shelter if it meant having to watch Arena football”. That’s good stuff.
Removing offsides and attempts to keep the ball in play by eliminating intentionally kicking the ball out of bounds looks an awful like Arena football.
Reducing each team a player is like removing an infielder each inning after the 9th. Sure, it might be interesting and get you a winner, but it would cease to be baseball. At least PK’s are a part of the game throughout.
(And how about the Red’s last night?!?! Down by 3 with two outs and Dunn hits a walk-off Grand Salami against Cleveland? You couldn’t script it much better than that.)



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Scot McKnight

posted July 1, 2006 at 10:03 am


Paul,
That’s the point: we play baseball until we get a winner.



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Paul J

posted July 1, 2006 at 10:39 am


Kind of like the ’02 All Star Game in Milwaukee?
(cheap shot – I know).



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Scot McKnight

posted July 1, 2006 at 10:41 am


Which is why there was an outcry.
You know I’m just giving soccer fans the business don’t you?
8)



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Paul J

posted July 1, 2006 at 10:49 am


Sure – but this is fun.
Can we at least agree that soccer fans are the best fans in the world? The cheers, the body paint, the costumes, the passion. There’s just nothing like it, anywhere.



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Scot McKnight

posted July 1, 2006 at 11:07 am


Well, on that one Paul, I’d have to say the best fans in the world are the Duke basketball fans. Hate to admit; truths makes me.



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preacherman

posted July 1, 2006 at 1:11 pm


England and Portugal now that was a great game too.
Who would think England would not make it to the semi-finals.



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Matt

posted July 1, 2006 at 1:54 pm


The real problem with soccer is that it is an antiquated sport that may be fun to play or watch in person, but has not translated into the 21st century very well at all and especially not the television set.
Unless you are raised in an environment that covets this sport from an early age or you are taught to play it and appreciate the finer details of the game, odds are very good that an athelete are going to be taken in by american football or american football.
Like baseball, it is old school and has not adjusted to the times.



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Ron Fay

posted July 1, 2006 at 10:23 pm


And chess is for losers who don’t do anything.
(I think Scot is not a big fan of cerebral games)



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James Gregory

posted July 2, 2006 at 1:32 pm


I would have to say you are allowing your Americanized values greatly influence your taste in sports, which is only fair since this is the culture you grew up in, am I not correct? I love watching the game because you never know when someone will score. It’s like baseball–you never know when someone will hit a homerun. So, I have these five points in response to yours:
1. Off-sides has a key role in strategy for defense and offense; allowing it makes for boring soccer as it takes a good chunk of strategy right out of the game
2. Kicking the ball out of bounds is again part of the strategy for defense. It helps the team regroup and set up to defend their side of the field. Not allowing this on a field that size would be insane as it would quickly tire the players.
3. Overtime is sudden death, that’s why it is called “golden goal.”
4. Players who do “ham it up” and the referee cues into this gets a yellow card, and if caught a second time, then a second yellow, which results in a red card. The red card in essence puts them into a sort of dunce box for the duration of the game, the team must also play a man down for the rest of that game, and the player with the red card can’t play the following game as well. It can get costly to act in soccer–if you get caught.
5. Penatly kicks are nothign like free throws; they can be missed just like free throws, but they can also be denied by the keeper. Penalty kick shootouts are exciting because of the suspense–will the keeper save it? will the shooter miss? where will he shoot? The point of the shootout is a quick match to see which team will do the best out of five attempts each. After five attempts each, the one with the most goals wins. IF this doesn’t solve the tie, then it goes to a shootout in which the first team that cannot match a goal, loses. This is quite intense as well. Free throws are never this tense.
Anyway, I would think that aside from USA, the rest of the world agrees with me–soccer is the best sport around, and certainly it is quite enjoyable to watch.



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Tom S.

posted July 2, 2006 at 11:58 pm


I’ve enjoyed watching the World Cup this go around, but I do think things could be livened up a bit in respect to the game. Some changes I would like to see:
1. Allow more substitutions. More fresh legs would mean more action.
2. Forget the penalty kicks to decide a game. Go with a golden goal no matter how long it takes (this is where a revised substitution policy would help).
3. Have a post-game appeal system for red/yellow cards. Sometimes the referee gets it wrong and for a guy to miss the next game because of a bad call is crazy.
4. Change the rule about having to sit the following games after receiving a yellow card in two consecutive games. If you don’t deserve to get tossed from the game you’re in, you shouldn’t have to sit out a subsequent game.
5. Have some kind of over and back rule. Being in the offensive zone and kicking the ball to the defense zone, and finally back to the goalie is annoying.
Of course, I’m writing as an American who probably doesn’t really understand the game. The NHL made some rule changes which really sped up their game. Maybe FIFA could do the same.
The best sports fans I would say are NCAA football fans. Tickets are always sold out for Big Ten schools like Michigan and Penn State, and they have stadiums of over 105,000!



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Patrick Hare

posted July 3, 2006 at 11:20 am


Scot –
I must admit I have shared your perspective on soccer for many years – not enough action to hold my interest. But usually I have been sitting at home by myself watching a game between two teams to whom I had no emotional connection and I have never really understood many of the rules.
So this past weekend I decided to go to an English pub in Santa Monica with some British friends to watch the match between England and Portugal. I came away with the New Perspective on Soccer. Here are a few observations:
1. Soccer is best experienced in community. Watching the match with a crowd deeply committed to the game and to one of the teams gave me a strong sense of community and commitment. I was caught up in the emotion, the excitement and the energy of the rest of the pub. Suddenly I was rooting for England and hanging on every play.
2. We need to understand the guidelines. It was helpful for me to be with students of the game who could explain the calls the referees made – I learned about improper throw-ins, offsides (which is different from offsides in hockey), and gained an appreciation for soccer strategy.
3. We need to redefine success. In America, we tend to define success in terms of goals/points scored. We are bored with soccer because there isn’t enough scoring. Yet I learned from watching the game with a passionate crowd that excitement can be generated in other ways. Setting up for a shot – for the possibility of scoring – provides its own excitement. Which makes the goals (when and if they happen – they didn’t in this match!) even more ecstacy producing. This is a nice change from basketball, for instance, where points are scored so often that 80-90% of the baskets scored are without any dramatic or game-determining significance.
Clearly since the majority of the world is passionate about the game, the problem isn’t with the game itself but with our American perspective – a lack of commitment, community, understanding, and a inadequate definition of success.
Now I’m just trying to find some French, Portugese, Italian or German pubs to watch the rest of the World Cup. If you’re a Creed reader in the Los Angeles area, and want to catch the excitment, drop me a line. The Red Lion over in Silver Lake seems like our best bet . . .



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James Gregory

posted July 3, 2006 at 2:12 pm


Amen, Patrick!
Your closing statement regarding the American perspective is right on the money; well put.



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andii

posted July 4, 2006 at 5:04 am


I’d like to say that Tom S has some good ideas for potential tournament rule changes [which are constantly evolving in a way that the basic game rules tend not to -except offside]. But I would take issue with the more substitutions thing. Part of the point is about stamina, too many fresh legs and that aspect is diminished [though there might be a case for allowing an extra quota of substitutions in the case of extra time, especially in the golden goal scenario]. In any case we really don’t want the kind of spectacle of American ‘throwball’ where the game keeps stopping to sub in specialists and to take them off again … boring -and it smacks of cheating; it seems rather against the spirit of gamesmanship to substitute too fully.
That said, I think it would be worthwhile for world football to experiment with the time-out kind of thing as in ice hockey; someone can be sent off without substitution for a period of time. Perhaps there may be even a value in considering that some sendings off could be with a substitution allowed to penalise the player but not the team. The present rules seem to unsubtle for the nuances of unfair play. The other thing I would like to see would be that match officials could see replays for more difficult decisions -perhaps there would be a video ‘ref’ who could advise on the basis of the footage of an incident and flag up an issue. Certainly the England team have been victims on a couple of occasions in this world cup of what appears to be injustices of refereeing fallibility and once the match moves on the injustice is enshrined.
A case in point was Wayne Rooney’s sending off against Portugal which was unfair. He deserved a yellow card for argumentativeness and a near recourse to violence, but he deserved some recognition for the provocation the two Portuguese had offered in their unfair ‘sandwich’ tackle and at least one of them should have been yellow-carded aswell. But the reason for his sending off appears to be that the referee thought he had deliberately stamped on the groin of a Portuguese player. The replays show that not to have been the case. It is arguable that playing with 10 men for the rest of the game [nearly half of it] probably lost England the match, in the end, as England were likely to have scored on the basis of the match that far.
As for the ‘over and back’ disallowal idea: I’m with you that it can be annoying and the reaction of crowds tells you the same is true for many. Mainly, of course, those are opposition crowds who sense that keeping the ball forward would advantage their team. As a former player [never professionally] I would have to say that it is good to be able to use the space behind the front line, so to speak, to be able to rebuild an attack at a different point. So I would be reluctant to disallow it unless there is a better way … Perhaps the opprobrium of the crowd is disincentive enough?



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