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by
Rick Moran

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June 17, 2014 - 4:08 pm
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There are legions of soccer haters in America, including some on this site. As I’ve said in the past, there’s nothing wrong with this. Many soccer haters know the game as well as I do and still can’t stand it. Others don’t know the game at all and hate it, which is illogical. Either way, the haters have their reasons and who am I to try and convince them otherwise?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news for the haters, but the World Cup has actually generated some interest in soccer. The ESPN broadcast of the U.S.-Ghana match drew a 7 share overnight, or 8 million viewers. By contrast, a usual broadcast of Monday Night Football draws an 8.6 share, or 9.3 million viewers. Somebody out there in America likes soccer and loves the World Cup.

But it is my belief that a few rule changes would go a long way to getting even more Americans interested in the game. Hopefully, these suggestions wouldn’t alter the character of the game, but simply make it more accessible to American audiences.

1. Injury, or “stoppage” time

The timekeeping problem in soccer is incomprehensible. Are the officials too stupid to keep accurate time? Why not stop the clock for an injury instead of adding on an indeterminate amount of time at the end of the half? (They’re rarely close to being right.) Why can’t they stop the clock after a goal is scored, or when there are long periods of time wasted on arguments with the officials? They rarely stop the clock, except in the case of very serious injuries.

There is nothing exact about timekeeping in a soccer match which is ridiculous in the 21st century. Either keep time or don’t. Add an official timekeeper as they have in football, basketball, and hockey. The ref can control when the clock is stopped and when it starts again. None of this nonsensical, subjective, inaccurate guessing about how much time was lost during a half.

No injury time. No stoppage time. Just 90 minutes of action. Isn’t that what they’re after in the first place?

2. A lack of precision on ball placement and out of bounds plays

How often do you see a foul called and, instead of the player placing the ball exactly where the foul occurred, he advances it 5 or 10 yards and puts it in play? Or you may have noticed when a ball goes out of bounds, the throw-in might eventually occur far from where the ball left the field of play.

The referee will occasionally blow his whistle and force the player to move the free kick back, or motion the player throwing the ball in to play to move closer to where the ball went out of bounds. But there’s no precision, no exactitude. (On throw-ins, I’ve seen players dance 20 yards down the sideline before putting the ball in play.)

It offends the American soul to see this demonstration of inexactness. It’s vaguely unfair. We’re used to games where precision makes a difference between victory and defeat. It can in soccer too.

I understand the attraction in not requiring the referee to handle the ball before putting it in play. It keeps the flow of the game going and maintains an advantage for an attacking team if they can quickly put the ball in play. But there are plenty of times when this rule is abused. Penalizing a team for abusing the practice by awarding a free kick to the opposing team should get players to be more exact in ball placement and out of bounds throw-ins.

Top Rated Comments   
I have heard that one of the things that separates man from the animals is the fully opposable thumb and thus the ability to use the hands for complicated actions.
By prohibiting the use of the hands soccer takes away one the things that makes us human.

Also there is so little scoring in soccer for the amount of frenzied activity it seems that most of the running around and kicking is meaningless. One radio talk show host i sometimes listen to I think nailed it when he said that soccer is comparable to a basketball game played for four quarters to 2/2 tie and then settled with a free throw shooting contest.

I have had friends tell me that a lot of football games don't have that much scoring either its just that a touchdown counts six points and makes it seem like there's more scoring.
But in football a great pass and catch or an exciting run or an interception can make a dramatic change in field position and momentum where in soccer possession changes innumerable times with no apparent consequences.
Soccer is popular with little kids because they really don't need any skills to play. It's just "ok, you guys try to kick the ball this way and you guys over here kick the ball that way". They all run around have some fun and are tired when their parents take them home.

Any one who has coached T-ball and struggled to get a six year old to use a glove for catching instead of throwing knows how much harder it is.

But in the end it kinda comes down to this. This is America and we ARE different.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment

How to make soccer more palatable ?
After three fake injuries, players get kicked in the groin by the officials.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Soccer is a game invented by European ladies, so they could stay busy while their husbands did the cooking." -Hank Hill

Enough said.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (69)
All Comments   (69)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
I usually watch the World Cup briefly every four years and am reminded why I don't care for soccer. It's hard to get excited about a sport in which most of the atheleticism involves creative ways to compensate for the artificial restriction against use of the hands. It is sort of like watching a carnival freak show in a way. After the novelty wears off, it would be almost as exciting if they cleared the field and let the fans watch the grass grow.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually over 18million people watched US Ghana. That was in English (ESPN), more than the NBA final. Millions more watched in Spanish. The article is written based on ignorance of Soccer. More kids play soccer than any other sport. It is a great sport and growing in the USA. Will it out grow US football in viewers of course not.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is a game born of grunts kicking skulls around, allegedly. In any event, in its current form it is the essence of Europa: the Elites (umps or refs or whatever) bend the rules, some of the rules are so complex and bizarre that only the Elites comprehend them, the players are histrionic, there is much sound and fury but little achievement, and many games are won and lost by the shoot-out, which uses skill not seen in the game (the kicking of a motionless ball), and arbitrariness (keeper leaps to right or left as ball is kicked, kind of Euro-roulette).
Pfaagh.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
You should probably ask someone who cares.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
#6 Make it into a "hybrid" game like Australian Rules Football. Sort of like a fight waiting for a game to start.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have heard that one of the things that separates man from the animals is the fully opposable thumb and thus the ability to use the hands for complicated actions.
By prohibiting the use of the hands soccer takes away one the things that makes us human.

Also there is so little scoring in soccer for the amount of frenzied activity it seems that most of the running around and kicking is meaningless. One radio talk show host i sometimes listen to I think nailed it when he said that soccer is comparable to a basketball game played for four quarters to 2/2 tie and then settled with a free throw shooting contest.

I have had friends tell me that a lot of football games don't have that much scoring either its just that a touchdown counts six points and makes it seem like there's more scoring.
But in football a great pass and catch or an exciting run or an interception can make a dramatic change in field position and momentum where in soccer possession changes innumerable times with no apparent consequences.
Soccer is popular with little kids because they really don't need any skills to play. It's just "ok, you guys try to kick the ball this way and you guys over here kick the ball that way". They all run around have some fun and are tired when their parents take them home.

Any one who has coached T-ball and struggled to get a six year old to use a glove for catching instead of throwing knows how much harder it is.

But in the end it kinda comes down to this. This is America and we ARE different.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
How to make the game more exciting....hmmmm....ok, how about this? If a team fails to score a goal throughout entire game the entire team is lined up in the middle of the soccer field and executed by firing squad.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
This article is irrelevant. The market has spoken. MLS is expanding.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wrong the market is not expanding the imported population from soccer loving countries, much of it illegal, is expanding. Native born Americans, and that includes first generation immigrants, are not more interested in soccer today than they were 30 years ago.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
I stated a fact, and you replied with gibberish. Would you like to try again, maybe with facts of some sort?
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
You only call it giberish because it undermines your "fact." I am not even sure your "fact" is an actual fact. When MSL appears on a regular basis on a sports channel than your "fact" may be a fact.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
TD also stated a fact, and that is that Obama and the Chamber of Commerce are importing tens of millions of illegal soccer fans. The MLS is expanding? So What? You will also see the MRA expanding too - the Mexican Restaurant Association.

As for flopping and diving, here is a video purporting to show the Italian national team coaches putting their players through organized diving drills:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b0GNwuNMDc

I hear that there is a renewed interest in soccer from Hollywood. The major talent agencies all sent scouts to look for the ones with the best acting chops to add to their stables.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have a few more changes that would make it almost watchable.
1. Shorten the playing field by half lengthwise and half widthwise. They spend most of the game just getting from one end to the other with no action worth watching. I think a good comparison would be ice hockey.
2. Allow them to use their hands. I haven't seen this many Shmoos since Al Capp died!
3. Make fake or real injuries a sit out of the game for 10 minutes. That way way begging for a penalty will be costly either way and if not really hurt then it would really hurt the team.
4. Make it 60 minutes come hell or high water. No overtime due to fake injuries or stupid referees.
Even with all the changes mentioned here it is still a silly game. Imagine going to an NFL game where for 90 minutes no one scores and at the end we have two field goal kickers decide the outcome!
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Banning this effete sport would make it more palatable for me. :D
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good point. Way too much wimpiness - like seeing a player take a kick to the face, get his nose broken, and continue playing for the next 50 minutes...
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
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