Ready for the World Cup Finals

As a former hater, I have really enjoyed the World Cup this year.  I think an unsung part of why so many people have been coming around in the States is having ESPN broadcast every game, instead of just seeing two or three here.  Seeing all the games lets one start getting to know the players and the teams, develop favorites, etc.

However, like most Americans, I do find it, at best, humorous to watch folks act like they have been gut-shot every time someone brushes their jersey.  I talked to a friend of mine who used to manage NHL teams, and said that it would be funny to do a parody with ice hockey players falling and writhing on the ground every time they were touched.  There would be 10 guys laying on the ice in about 30 seconds.

Not quite the same idea, but I thought this parody was pretty funny


  1. metatron:

    They really need to get over the aversion to video replays. This time some refs tried to compensate by going too far the other way. The Brazil - Chile game was brutal, there should have been half a dozen immediate red cards per team and one guy got a flying knee to the back of the neck, but not even a yellow card was given. The Brazil Columbia game was no better and when Neymar got his vertebrae broken, again with a flying knee, there was no yellow card either.

  2. Change Happens:

    First 30 seconds of a hockey game? They wouldn't get past the opening Face Off.

  3. me:

    No video replays is a consequence of the idea that soccer ought to be playable anywhere as long as you get the players together. If you can't do it with a grass field, a ball, a few sticks and enough humans in the middle of a desert, it's a no-go. That's not a terrible idea for a sport... but the current state of affairs is rather laughable.

    My preferred proposal would be a rule change that states that any player down for 5s or longer has to be taken out of play for their own safety. Keeps the ball rolling, real injuries get treated and officiated. Anything that isn't a real foul will make players think twice about how much they really want the strategic advantage.

  4. metatron:

    That would invalidate the whole point of having 3 substitutions, soccer is a game of endurance among other things and that is why I and a lot of other people do it for exercise.

  5. Onlooker from Troy:

    Yes, it's an awful aspect of soccer (or football) culture that really needs to be stomped out somehow. Not sure what the answer is, but it's very off-putting, to say the least.

  6. Onlooker from Troy:

    Not a bad proposal, at first glance. Interesting.

  7. memelo2:

    How about you play a couple of seasons NHL and NFL without protective
    gear and then have a look at how the playing culture will change?

  8. morganovich:

    it's been done, and very well.

  9. NL7:

    The explanation I've heard is that it's a huge field with relatively few refs, so acting out is one way to get the ref's attention. Plus, cards and penalties can carry over into other games more often than in most major US sports, where suspension tends to be rare and meted out by a high authority, not by the decision of refs. You can foul out of a basketball game and the ump can toss you from baseball, but a fairly routine penalty doesn't normally carry over to the next game.

  10. HenryBowman419:

    Well, I find the game really boring. It's pretty obvious that the 24-hr sports channels are desperately trying to generate interest in the game as a way to fill network time. The football and basketball seasons are over, and that leaves mostly baseball and golf (and, I suppose, bowling). The coverage is plainly about the money -- which is not to say that's a bad reason.

  11. markm:

    Comparing rugby (or American football) to soccer is a cheap shot. Physically overpowering the opposition is the core of the game in rugby and American football, while soccer is supposed to be a non-contact sport. Hockey is also a poor comparison - it may be against the rules to deliberately ram ones opponent, but the physics of skate blades on ice ensures that collisions will occur by accident, and it will often be impossible to tell if it was accident or intentional.

    For a more meaningful comparison, compare basketball and soccer. In neither game do the rules allow gaining an advantage by contact with your opponent - but in American college and pro games there is a fair amount of violence, and usually the penalties are trivial even if the referee happens to see it. It's clear that the heavier players consider that using their strength to gain position or even to intimidate the opposite player is worth giving their opponents a few free-throws. I suspect that soccer officials have also taken note of the violence in basketball, and are determined to keep it out of their sport. Hence severe penalties for even brushing another player, but that makes flopping worthwhile, never mind that it turns off fans who would have gone to the movies instead if they wanted to see playacting.

  12. Colin77:

    Well, I love soccer and am glad that you have come around at least somewhat. However, I agree that some of the theatrics are out of hand (I don't think American players engage in this nearly to the same extent) and found this pretty funny:

  13. jdgalt:

    So that's where the Demonrats' professional "victim" class trains.

  14. Bill Lever:

    I'm enjoying the World Cup soccer too. I think that once every four years is about the right dose for me.

    On the funny side, I was talking to an old friend of mine here in California about the World Cup. He's a Jew, was born in pre-Israel Palestine, served as a tank commander in the Israeli army in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and moved to California in the mid 1970's. That just sets him up as a tough, funny, old guy with a rugged accent and direct manner of speech.

    My friend doesn't have any favorites among the countries. He watches games to enjoy the talents of several players he follows. Among the top world players he was following was Luis Suarez of Uruguay.

    A day or so after the Uruguay defeated England, we were talking on the phone and he said that just as the game was starting on TV, a premonition came to him how it would end. He said, "I looked at the TV and said 'Suarez, today you will score two goals.'" That's just how it happened.

    In the the next game, Suarez created quite a controversy by biting one of the Italian players. I called my friend and left a message asking if he had predicted the bite.

    He called me back. "My predictions are about human behavior, not animal."

  15. Eric H:

    Ah, no. Soccer is *not* supposed to be non-contact. The rules allow contact, but only in fair opposition, i.e. you can hip and shoulder bump pretty much all day long. And if you can maintain control of the ball and advantage, which many players can, the referee may allow play to continue despite some ruthless banging. The problem is that at the right moment, you can pretty much get a free goal or perhaps a member of the other side sent off with a proper acting job.

    Keep in mind that these are big boys and if they wanted to switch to rugby, American football, or hockey or, they wouldn't act this way. The suggestion that downed players have to come off the field for minimum amounts of time (3-5 minutes), non-substituted, would perhaps reduce the problem, but wouldn't eliminate it.

  16. obloodyhell:

    Meh. The interest in soccer is a sign of what a bunch of hopeless Euro-pansies Americans have become.

    1) Here's one thing Americans don't like: Ties. And WAAAAY too many soccer games end in ties. America is all about winning. And for there to be winners, there must be losers. A "tie" has neither.
    2) Americans like games where the play of the game is what wins the game. Not freaking @#%$$@#%@$#% penalty kicks which have ZERO to do with the game itself, and which settled HOW MANY of the games, even in the final "no tie" playoffs? Right. One hell of a lot of them. 'Nuff said. The rise of soccer ties directly to the decline of America.