You know that I am not one to make political speeches or take stances on hotly-contested social issues. But I guarantee this will be, by far, my most controversial post yet. All I request is that you hear me out before you brand me a heretic.
With the World Cup firmly upon us and (presumably, with “rolled” eyes) the world watching, I felt it was time to say it once and for all: I don’t like soccer and I certainly do not care about the World Cup.
Hold the phone! Before you start setting up the websites by which you intend to torch my (good) name, brand me as an unenlightened, and start listing all the ways that you think soccer is better than baseball (which it isn’t), just hear me out. I typically do not take a stance this firm without having some understanding of the subject, and I believe I can justify my dislike. You don’t have to agree; you don’t have to approve of my position. Just respect the fact that I have defended my position with some degree of intelligence.
1) The field is too big. I won’t go into the fact that the fields… err, I’m sorry, “pitches,” are inconsistent in size since baseball fields are different sizes as well. But the pitches are traditionally between 90 and 120 meters long (metric system!) and between 45 and 90 meters wide (all depends on whether you are playing international adult or non-international adult). On television all that metric system bunk means one thing — too much grass. It requires too much running to go back and forth, which means that the majority of the play takes place too far away from a goal. Thus, the excitement level of the “red zone” in football or inside the blue line in hockey, is few and far between. And with that much space to run, it is that much harder to get close enough to a goal for there to be real excitement, let alone the dissipation of the excitement once a defensive player kicks the ball away from the goal, like the air spewing out of a balloon. And seriously, calling it a “pitch?”
2) The clock ticks forward. The shot at the buzzer. The bottom of the 9th, 2 out walk-off home run, the hail mary pass… None of those exist in soccer. Want to know why? Because all of the foregoing examples rely upon a race against the clock. The seconds tick away (or the outs remaining diminish) until triple zero is on the clock or 27 outs have been recorded. In soccer, the clock counts forward. It starts at triple zero and ends at… ? Well, it could end at 90 minutes; it could end at 90 minutes and 23 seconds; it could end at 91 minutes and 14 seconds. There is always the possibility that time will be added at the end of the game because of penalties or stoppages in play. So when the game actually will end is in doubt basically until the game is over. How is there drama and excitement in that?
3) Tie Games. What is the point of playing a game and not resolving the issue of who won and who lost? What was Kreese tell Johnny in The Karate Kid Part II? “Second place is no place!” And yet, in the World Cup, if you tie, you still get points. How does that make sense? I don’t understand the tournament rules in World Cup, but is it possible that if a team ties every one of its games it might accumulate more points than a team that wins some and loses some? Play until you have a winner. Hockey addressed the issue of ties with the shoot-out, one of the most exciting events in sports. But soccer ends in a tie! Congratulations, no one lost. Kind of like my daughter’s T-Ball games. Fun, demonstrates good sportsmanship since no one has to lose, but all in all, unfulfilling.
4) Too Many Leagues. I don’t understand this at all. There is the MLS (Major League Soccer), there is the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), there is the FA (Football Association), there is FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) … and there may be more. How do you keep them all straight? Especially since the players are free to move in between the leagues. An MLS player is free to be loaned to an FA team… and FA teams sometimes play MLS teams? I really don’t understand it at all.
Last, and certainly not least:
5) You Cannot Use Your Hands. I know this is what makes soccer soccer and not rugby, but seriously, no hands? In all fairness, soccer to me looks more like a form of interpretive dance than a sport. I won’t sit and watch a track meet and I won’t watch a soccer game. I want athletics that require coordination of more than just your two feet. I am not saying that soccer players are not gifted, they surely can do amazing things with their feet and how they kick the ball, but coordinating four appendages and the rest of your body is more impressive. Catching a football on the dead run while avoiding would-be tacklers… the alley-oop requiring a run, a timed-jump, and raising the arms and slamming the ball down… the science of hitting a round ball with a round bat square. Hand-eye coordination is one of the most amazing skills an athlete has but it doesn’t exist in soccer because you can’t use your hands.
Ok, one more…
6) The Laws of the Game. As a lawyer, I respect the law. I understand it, I appreciate it, I understand its prominence and importance. There are many types of other laws. The laws of physics. The laws of attraction. But why does soccer need laws? Soccer is just a game, right? So is Monopoly and it has rules. Boggle has rules. Yahtzee has rules. Baseball has rules. But not soccer. Oh no no! Soccer has “laws.” Sounds kind of pompous and self-righteous to me. Whatever…
Now, you are all entitled to your opinion. Those of you who are staying up until the wee-hours of the morning to watch these games, matches, whatever they are called can knock yourself out. But don’t expect me to get all excited and worked up about it. I’d rather watch paint dry…. or golf.
Have a great week.