The World’s Sport: The Response to the Response
So my man Will had some interesting responses to my irrefutable, completely factual and subjective critiques of soccer in my article The World’s Sport. Check it out here. Will’s wrong, of course, because soccer is boring. But I guess that’s not a very good argument, is it? Ok then fine. I’ll put some virtual ink into it.
Will had a couple of main points. I won’t post them in full here cause I really want you to click on the link (#transparency), but for the sake of not being annoying I’ll post some here.
Point #1: ‘What makes soccer amazing is its lack of scoring. We have enough sports that are all about offense — we need something that takes more patience and skill to score….So a 28–21 score football game isn’t a good game? Or how about a 14–7 match? Is it not a good game simply because of the lack of offense?’
Hmmm. Interesting. Kind of. The lack of scoring is never interesting in and of itself. Good defense can definitely be interesting though. Here’s a thing though (not the thing, just one of them); soccer defense isn’t interesting. I’m admittedly someone that doesn’t check for soccer. I’ve watched matches and watched highlights, but I don’t watch regularly. You know what I don’t see? Highlights of defensive plays. Sure there’s an occasional highlight of a nice save by a goalie, but at least to the casual viewer, there’s not much interesting about defense in soccer. They just kind of get in the way. You wanna know another thing? All you soccer fans know this too. I pulled up a list of the top 25 defenders in the world. Know how many of them I’ve heard of? Not none, son. The list of the best forwards?
So yea, your most famous players all score the ball. Nobody cares about the defenders. The thing about football is that defense is fun. You’re just as likely to see a great play by the O as a great play by the D. A big hit, a pass breakup, a turnover, a dope pass rushing move, etc. Defense is interesting and exciting. It’s not just guys running around kind of getting in the way of the offense.
Point 2: ‘Off-sides is the opposite of stupid. On a massive field like soccer if there weren’t an off-sides rule you would just have 6 players sitting on each side waiting for the ball — that would be lame.The off-sides call (though frustrating at times I must admit) brings a different level of skill and communication to pass a ball to a player at the right time for him to beat a man down the field without going off-sides. The athletic ability and teamwork to pull such a feat and then score on top is a fantastic sequence to watch….’
Really? Would it? The reason guys don’t cherry pick in basketball is because even if the offense dropped a guy back to prevent it, it is far far faaarrr easier to score in a 4 on 4 situation than a 5 on 5 one. Teams would be taking big risks. Why wouldn’t it be the same in soccer? If teams want to just keep a few guys hanging out around the opposite goal they’re making it far easier for the offense to score on the other end. But hey, I’m sure soccer nerds have thought about this far more than me so I’m probably wrong. I’m sure watching a perfectly timed pass to beat the defense down the field is exciting to a soccer fan the same way a perfectly folded towel is exciting to a manager at Bed Bath and Beyond, but I’m not intrigued.
Point 3: ‘ The football field is huge — to have 9 players would make it more running than it already is — that’s not exciting.’
In every other sport (well at least football and basketball) there’s a move to widen the playing space and open the game up. So why is soccer hurt by potentially opening the game up? More space means more room for movement which gives the players more space to display their skill. That’s part of what led to the offensive explosion in football, getting the ball to great athletes in space. Why would more space make soccer more boring?
Point 4: ‘Isn’t making scoring exciting the point? Why is basketball (especially the NBA) mundane until the fourth quarter? It is because it is a marathon of scoring. No one is hype jumping up a down until the last two minutes. That’s no fun. In soccer, excitement can happen at any time — the 1st minute the 60th minute or in stoppage time! You literally can’t miss any of it.’
Sure. There’s something to be said for every score mattering. But it’s just semantics. What do I mean? In football, for example, turnovers matter almost as much as scoring because of the scoring opportunities they present or prevent. Big plays are huge even when they’re not touchdowns. Every sport has plays that matter. In soccer it just seems like if its not a goal, it doesn’t matter. Is that true? Probly not. But from the outside looking in that’s what it seems like. So yea, goals are cool and exciting. But that doesn’t mean that it’s inherently a good thing that it’s soooo hard and rare to score, especially in a sport where possession is far more fluid than, say, football. A football team may only score 3–5 times a game but they have clear possessions where they are clearly trying to matriculate the ball down the field. There are times I’ve watched soccer and it felt like 10–15 minutes could pass with neither team coming anywhere near scoring or even crossing midfield.
Point 5: ‘Only America, some of Canada, and maybe London watch NFL football while literally the entire world watches soccer.’