Tuesday, June 15, 2010
FROM: Matt Nevinger
RE: "The Dreadful Game"
Alas, I shouldn't do this. But, I dvr'd the Dutch game this morning (one of my favorite teams to watch), made it through the whole day without learning any scores, got home and got the family squared away, and was finally able to watch the match. Oh, and have a few drinks doing so, which is probably what has led to this fruitless email.
I lived in Europe for a while. I was a soccer fan before, but this certainly deepened my feelings. I was in Ireland for the 2002 World Cup, and Robbie Keane's goal against Germany will forever be the most exciting sporting moment of my life (buzzer beaters and last second field goals aren't even in the same league as watching someone grasp a four-year in-the-works lifeline for their whole country).
Your comments are the same ill-informed, openly biased rubbish every person who dismisses the game throws out. Look, I don't like tomatoes. I don't feel the need to write an editorial about it. If someone asks, I just say they're not my favorite and move on.
Ah, where to start?
How about with your "Get rid of offsides" suggestion? Yeah, that will open the game up. It's sort of like saying that if you were allowed to lineup your receivers fifteen yards in the secondary the defenses would be more aggressive and you would see more blitzing. This is actually very similar to football: if you want to go over the top, you have to actually beat someone.
I've thought about it (and tried to explain football to Europeans), and here it the best analogy I can come up with: get rid of holding.
EUROPEAN FAN: It's a stupid rule. I can't normally see it when it happens (mainly because I don't know where to look or the camera isn't focused on that part of the field) and all these awesome plays get called back because of it. Seriously, does it really impact the play? Let offensive guards tackle blitzing linebackers and who cares if a safety grabs a receiver? I don't understand how this could affect the game, so just get rid of it.
Seriously, no rule in sports encourages more aggressive play (bring those defenders forward--if they can all work together the strikers have to stay with them) and creates more space (if offsides didn't exist, at least one defender would never leave the top of the penalty area, if you had a two goal lead, it would be even worse, which would completely diminish the likelihood of comebacks, but I digress). Also, it is maybe the only example of a rule in sports that allows a team to leverage risk. What if the NFL got rid of ineligible receivers? Think about it: you could have a center and nine downfield skill players. Of course the other team could just blitz you, but if you got rid of the ball quick enough, who cares? For the defense, you could run nothing but safeties and corners, but at some point you have to create pressure. You're call.
Anyway, you can now go back to dismissing a great game (and the most brilliant sporting event in the world). But believe me: if you had been in that pub with me with Robbie Keane scored, you wouldn't feel this way.
P.S. Most football games are at least moderately boring unless you are very knowledgeable and can watch at a higher level, and most deep passes fall incomplete.