Skip to comments.5 Suggestions to Make Soccer More Palatable for American Audiences
Posted on 06/18/2014 6:54:10 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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.
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?
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.
International soccer would be a lot more watchable if players weren’t diving all over the pitch every time someone tripped them or gave them an elbow. It’s positively nauseating. The histrionics are worthy of a Shakespearean actor. We’ve all seen it. The player gets tripped up, throws his arms out while diving through the air, and goes down to the ground writhing in pain as if he’s been shot. Two minutes later, he’s speeding down the wing going after the ball as if shot out of a cannon.
It’s got to stop. It’s an insult to the game and to the fans. The NBA now calls a technical for diving as well they should. FIFA hands out a yellow card — but refs are afraid to call diving because there are times when even minor contact can lead to very painful injuries.
A baseball player gets hit with a 95 MPH fastball in the middle of the back and saunters to first — a point of pride not to show the pitcher he’s hurt. A wide receiver in football gets absolutely walloped by a D-back and jumps up as if nothing happened. This is the American way, and soccer would do well to adopt it.
But the trend in soccer now — especially in the penalty area — is for an attacking player to seek out contact in order to get a penalty kick. There have been more games decided by fake or questionable fouls than need to be. A few match penalties handed out for diving will go a long way toward discouraging the practice.
The offside rule in soccer is far more complex than it needs to be. In fact, a rule designed to make play fair is actually a detriment to the game.
The basic rule is simple enough: for a play to be onside, there must be at least one defensive player between the attacker and the goalie. But there are several permutations to the rule, and the assistant referees don’t always get it right.
When pro hockey eliminated the center-line offside, the game became much more exciting. The breakaway is the most crowd-pleasing play in hockey and with no center-line offsides, you usually get two or three a game.
Several times during World Cup games, offsides has been called less than 10 yards from the goal. Why is this a problem? You got all the defenders around the goal. If the attackers get lucky and the ball drops at their feet, good for them.
Don’t completely eliminate offsides, but limit it to balls kicked from behind the center line. Once over the center line, all bets are off and defenders better not let an offensive player get behind them.
Not really, of course. But those three countries have almost all their players home grown. The citizenship rules in soccer are baffling, as are the rules governing what country a player with dual citizenship can play for. English should play for England. Brazilians for Brazil, etc. It’s kind of silly that Costa, Spain’s marvelous striker, is a Brazilian by birth. Spain has plenty of home-grown players, they don’t need to go poaching other country’s stars.
It’s almost as if the superannuated gentlemen who run FIFA don’t want the game to open up and become exciting.
6. Name one of their teams The Redskins.
For that reason alone, Soccer can suck it.
What makes the author think it’s important to the rest of the world that Americans like soccer?
I would disagree on ‘injury-time’. The fakeness of the whole thing is more worth watching than most of the game. When they show the slow-motion stuff, and you see how the guy is faking a fall...it’s like some Academy Award stuff...strictly polished at falling and doing it to claim severe injury. Good stuff, if you ask me.
Play the game with the head of a Jihadist.
Execute the losing team. Guaranteed rise to the top of the public desire.
1) It’s more or less a tradition at this point, and it’s hard to change tradition in this sport. Otherwise, I have no problem with the suggestion.
2) Meh. It’s rarely an issue in a game that’s far more about possession than it is about position (unlike American football, for example). When it really matters, the referee or linesman generally get pretty picky about taking it from the right place.
3) Agreed. Refs should be quicker to issue yellow cards for diving and league/tournament officials should be able to suspend players for egregious examples after games, regardless of whether or not they got away with it in real time.
4) No. The author gets the rule wrong and none of the suggested changes would keep even the remotest spirit of the rule intact.
5) No. The way to make everyone better is to improve, not to tear down others. The citizenship rules do need so revise, however.
Here’s an idea: how about soccer take itself seriously first, and decide its World Championship by actually playing soccer, instead of some possibly invoking some retarded coin-flipping contest?
#6. Widen the goals to allow some actual scoring. These 0-0 games are mind-numbingly boring.
OK, so now if we don’t care for soccer, we are “HATERS”?
And once they hit the ground, they roll.. and roll.. and roll. For effect.
A Beyonce halftime extravaganza. Ummm.... would be way more exciting than an actual soccer game. (and it would still suck)
Eliminate the goalie to allow for more scoring.
Keep it a foreign sport on Univision.
Don’t waste your time with these keyboard warriors. As I’ve noted before, if any of them ever actually found themselves on ANY playing field they’d most likely crap themselves then pass out (not necessarily in that order).
Let the players pick up the ball and either run with it until tackled or throw it. Award two points for knocking over the goalie when a player scores while holding on to the ball and one point for the conventional kick into the net.
Call the two point score a touchdown.
Call the one point score a field goal.
Break the game into either 4 quarters or 9 innings.
Get Vin Scully to call the game.
It's not a big deal.
(2) Placement only really matters some of the time. I've never heard of a throw-in spot deciding the outcome of a game.
(3) The diving is sickening. Simple rule revision: if the foul was blatant, call it. If the not-obviously-fouled player is hurt so badly that he is writhing on the pitch in pain, then he should be substituted. If all the substitutes are gone, then the side plays a man light.
Then, all of a sudden, you'd see a little less whining.
(4) The offsides rule is simple, and fine. As long as you're on the opposing team's half of the field, you can't be in front of the ball unless at least two defenders are in front of you.
It's not rocket science.
(5) Who cares if some teams are perennial achievers? The rule should be that you can choose to play for any country which considers you a citizen.
Dispense with the borg-like insistence that everyone must like soccer. Everyone doesn't like pro basketball, everyone doesn't like pro football. No one has their drawers in a twist about that.
As far as viewership, the problem to me appears to be cameras focusing on a huge field with brightly colored, shorts-wearing people apparently toddling about the field chasing a ball. That's what it looks like, and that's reinforcing the American impression that it's a kid's game. Yes, I know that the players are not literally toddling, but given the video showing that huge field, the action appears to be slow and the players appear to be small.
Maybe "arena soccer" with a more compact playing area would help, lol.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Baseball an American sport dirived from Cricket, and Football an American sport derived from Rugby?
Maybe we need to derive an American sport from what we now call “soccer”. I remember indoor soccer was tried. That actually looked pretty cool.
I do know that most kids that play soccer at a very young age move on to American sports when they reach Middle school or high school. Mine did, as did all their friends.
Maybe we don’t need to have a sport rammed down our throats. I’m a musician. I don’t like rap or hip-hop. If or when it morhps into something I like, well, I’ll like it.
The question asked in the article is for the marketers of Soccer in the US, not the consumers that don’t really care to watch it.
BTW, the World Cup numbers are high because it is an annual event. How high would the numbers be for it or, say the Olympics, if you could watch them every weekend? I enjoy watching soccer for short spurts while at a sports bar. I rarely see anybody score, but it is usually pretty exciting when they do. I confess that one of the most annoying parts of the game is the inability of players to use their hands to accomplish anything. It’s like having to play ping-pong with your eyes closed. It’s a fabricated challenge.
Add in more time for the players to just stand around like they do in NFL or MLB games. That way viewers can have more opportunities to go get another beer.
1. Elongate the ball.
2. Allow players to use their hands.
3. Allow players to pass the ball with their hands and other players to catch the ball with their hands.
4. Allow players to wear padding and actually, physically tackle opposing players who have the ball.
5. Have goals count as 6 points and extra points count as 1 with kickers kicking straight on instead of soccer-style.
How about just two players per team, each gets 20 alternating penalty shots.
I always thought that any penalty in the goal area (leading to a penalty kick) should be reviewed via instant replay. The flow of the game has already stopped, so the minute to review the film will not interrupt active play. If the offensive player is shown to be acting, he should receive an automatic yellow.
I figure anyone who is trendy enough to actually watch soccer gets sufficient penalty by having to watch this stuff.
A Beyonce halftime extravaganza. Ummm.... would be way more exciting than an actual soccer game. (and it would still suck)
If they put a wall up at the end of the field and let the ball bounce back into play after an attempted shot, you would get rebound, second-chance shots and more scoring.
Imagine hockey if after every missed shot, they blew the whistle and had to start over again.
I will watch Soccer when the clock counts down not up, and no added time at the end.
I have watched one game, was thinking “thank goodness, it’s finally over” when they added extra minutes to the game and I was forced, yes FORCED to watch more mind numbing scrambling about.
Oh, and what is with the “tactical”. I see hordes of players running about. I know what the word tactical means and don’t see anything tactical happening.
The writer has the offside rule wrong. At the time the ball is played, there must be two defensive players between the player the ball is played to at the time of contact. The goalkeeper is almost always one of the defensive players, but the writer is wrong.
I do agree that the offside rule needs modification. My suggestion is that once the ball is below the top of the penalty area, the offside rule is no longer on in effect, except in the goalkeeper area which could be expanded by a couple of yards.
Maybe the hundreds of millions of people that watch soccer, inc myself, just love the sport, find it gripping, and love it just as you do your sports?.
Wow, watched ONE game and got all that? Thank you for the reply. It’s not many people that will publicly out themselves as an f*ing moron. Well done, and I’ll be sure to note this for all your future posts.
Start with five minutes of free kicks. Then watch your paint dry.
Its a huge myth that soccer games are all 0-0. Very few games of soccer, at any level, end up 0-0. Or even draws.
Now your comment I can respect! Well said sir.
As for stoppage time, I like it just the way it is for primarily one reason. It is a traditional and expected practice that the ref not end the half or the game if one team is threatening to score; and waits until the threat on goal no longer exists.
It’s one of the quirks of the game that make it so exciting at the end of a close match.
Soccer is a Euroweenie and third world game we Americans simply do not identify with. The liberals schools have been pushing soccer in public schools for about 30 years now. That is where the latest kids have been identifying with soccer.
Wow. You are really on board with this soccer thing. It’s just my opinion. I don’t have to like soccer, and you don’t have to like basketball.
The difference is I don’t think you are a “f*ing moron” for thinking baseball is too slow, or hockey too cold, or basketball is full of Madonnas, or football is too violent.
So enjoy your sport. When the clock counts down properly, I will watch it and enjoy it.
Soccer has bad games and good games, great games, like any sport.
And its not the sports fault if you couldn’t see the tactics. Tactics permeate the game: how the team lines up, how its shape and tactics in attack and defence attempts to defeat and combat the other team’s and viceversa, individual players positions and what they do on the field in both attack and defence, how the coach/manager will change team, players and tactics during the game.
So many tactics in a game of soccer, perhaps that shows that they are subtle and that soccer isn’t a mindless game of kickabout.
A bunch of guys running around a field kicking a white basketball? Boring.
Then why bother with a clock at all? Just give everyone a trophy.
Aah, padding, how cute.
Still, if you aint man enough to play rugby...........
I don’t doubt that.
Now, give them a fair introduction to real, modern sports, however...
I hate to be the bearer of bad news for the lovers of soccer, but the author of this article is comparing the proverbial apples to oranges. The World Cup is a once every four year event and the ratings may have less to do with a love of the game than a curiosity about the event -- as evidenced by the fact that the weekly Major League Soccer and English Premier League broadcasts on ESPN and NBC have an average viewership of 200,000 per match and a .1% share. Indeed, the weekly soccer viewership is significantly lower in 2013 and 2014 than was in 2006 when the ESPN broadcasts drew a whopping 263.000 viewers and a .2% share.
In contrast, Monday Night Football draws 9.3 million viewers and an 8.6 share, week in and week out, despite having some of the most annoying commentators in sports and way too many disruptive commercial breaks.
I agree that I am not able to see the patterns or the tactics. But I grew up watching baseball, football, and basketball.
Baseball tactics you can easily see because of all the standing about. Mangers position players based on statistics of where the batter hits a specific pitcher, on an on. It’s a slow game, a chess match. Easy to see. American football you watch lineups and match ups with a pause to see what is going on. I get that. Soccer I just have not watched enough to understand what is going on.
I will watch it when the clock properly counts down. I am stubborn about that issue. But I am a Scotsman born in America so I can be unreasonably stubborn about things. It’s in my nature!
I hope you enjoy the World Cup, and I hope I can learn to enjoy it as well!
Baseball isn’t American. It was invented in England (as base ball) and its roots come from the girls game of rounders.
About 20 years ago Rush had his “Keep Our Kids Safe (KOOKS)” program whereby he used the entire 3 hours to have moms call in about the dangers of soccer. He did an awesome job mocking idiots and suckering them into calling in about the dangers of soccer with tales of injuries. To this day it was his best show ever.