Saturday, July 3, 2010

What if We Just Tweeked this a Little?

I'm a big believer in modifying rules to improve a game. I think I developed this in my youth when I used to make up games, such as backyard baseball, and my brother would find loopholes in the rules and I'd have to make up new rules. From his perspective and anyone else who has played with me, I make up rules as I go along. But really any new rules are in response to perceived flaws in the game. I organized a very successful weekly pick-up flag football game in which we developed the rules over time and ended up with a pretty darn good set. Same with a mini-golf tournament I organize. Yeah, that's right, mini-golf.

In this context there are two things to know about me. Firstly, when I watch a sport or game, I am often thinking of ways it could be made better. Secondly, I don't understand the reasoning that says you can't mess with the rules of the game. So with this in mind you can imagine my frustration as I watch the World Cup. Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying these contests. The problem is that if you ask me, there are a lot of things that could be done to make soccer better.

First off let's fix the obvious problem. The timing. What's with the delay tactics at the end of the game. Soccer, unlike most timed sports (basketball, football, hockey, lacrosse) does not use stop time. The clock just keeps running and if a team is ahead they can take their sweet time putting the ball in play. This seems ludicrous. Easy fix on this one. Soccer should use the Canadian Football League's approach. Use run time until the last five minutes (or three or six or whatever) and then go to stop time. While they are at it, they should ditch this whole injury time thing. Why can't the referee just stop the clock when there is an injury or delay of some kind like would happen in any other sport? It's not that difficult.

Fixing the timing would make the game more fair. Now we just need to give the offence a better chance to score. Open it right up. Who needs 1-0 games determined by some fluke play. This is where soccer should adopt hockey's blue line. Get rid of the attack-preventing offside rule and say that players are onside as long as the ball goes over the 25 yard line (or 35 or whatever) before they do. Now that would create some serious scoring opportunities.

Finally, I think something needs to be done about all the fouls. Not sure what to do here, but I think maybe the penalty for a trip or shin hack is not enough. Sure if you do it near your own goal a free kick against you can be costly, but in most cases it is no big deal. The ref gives out those cute yellow and red cards (a system that could be useful in other sports) if it is flagrant, but for the most part players are getting hacked down and there is no real price to pay for doing it. Perhaps players should foul out like in basketball or have to go to a penalty box like hockey. If it was up to me, a player would have to run one full lap of the field after a penalty before they could come back into play. That would be fun.

I can hear the purists cursing and howling at me. But to you I say two words. Forward Pass! Those used to be illegal in football you know.

This is my 19th post, so my goal of 52 for the year is in serious jeopardy. It's looking more like 40. Who knows, maybe there will be a rush of inspiration this summer. Feel free to email me your suggested topics (if you know me well enough to have my email).


  1. And all the theatrical diving! Make 'em run TWO laps for those!

  2. Ah Jack, I may need two posts to get out all my comments! First, and foremost, you commenting on " the beautiful game " is like me commenting on that psuedo sport baseball. Now don't get me wrong I did enjoy the Seals game we went to on Sunday.A 17-10 score for the hometeam, 3 grand slam homers, and beer and tacos, yummy! I wonder about your need to change games? I only think about changing something if it isn't working.Many rule changes in sports are good, the elimination of the red line in hockey is a great example, as is the "forward pass". The delay tactics in soccer often add excitement, if the German's hadn't forced the Argies to attack the game would only have been 2-0 for tham! The off-side rule, well I must admit the 25, or 30 yard line might increase scoring for a while, at the expense of good defensive, and offensive, play, but only until a thinks about it too much guy like you figured out a way around it. The fouls, I agree, are getting out of hand, as are the dives. I agree with Dan a diver should have to run two laps, but maybe wearing tube socks? Cheers, xelA.

  3. "The delay tactics in soccer often add excitement."

    I do not think that word means what you think it means ;)

  4. Jack, I am so with you on this. Soccer needs to be tweaked so badly. It's screaming out for tweaking. It's pathetic. And all these purists who talk about "The Beautiful Game". It's like talking to Americans about changing their constitution to take out that silly bit about the right to bear arms. Why not strive for "The More Beautiful Game"?