Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Improving Soccer: Some Further Points

A number of my correspondents have asked me to clarify further the reasoning behind some of the improvements I suggested in an earlier post. I'm happy to oblige:

1. A Thirty Second Rule

As in basketball, this rule forces a team to do something with the ball within a certain period of time of gaining possession. This rule would stop a team simply passing the ball laterally all afternoon. It would make for a snappier, more attacking game. Perhaps, given the fact that a football pitch is bigger than a basketball court, a one minute rule might work better. But these picky details can be worked out later.

2. Offsides in the Penalty Box Only

Try and ask a Brit to explain off-sides, it's like asking them to explain tipping: they haven't got a clue. Sure they can repeat to you the rule. But they don't know why it exists. As far as I can tell, it's to stop "goal poaching." It prevents a striker from standing in front of the goalkeeper the entire game and making a general pest of himself. Granted that this actually is a problem--and I can't personally see that it is--then offsides ought to apply only in the penalty box. This would create more space in the midfield and stop the annoying "offsides trap." I don't know the history of the offsides rule, but I suspect it was implemented by an organization of goalkeepers to further keep down the number of goals.

3 AND 4--These are no brainers; no further explanation of their advantages are necessary.

5. Require Goalkeepers to stay on their line the entire game.

This simply extends the requirement that goalkeepers are under when facing a penalty. If goal keepers had to stand on their line the entire game, they would be unable to narrow the angle when facing strikers. This would likely increase quite considerably the number of goals in any match.

6. Require Goalkeepers to Wear Head-Cams

This suggestion has the merit of both increasing the number of goals and enhancing the pleasure of the TV audience. Goalkeepers never head the ball, so requiring them to wear head-cams--in the form of something like old miner's helmets--would not be too much of an imposition. Perhaps the head-cam would limit their mobility, but that's no loss. It simply means more goals. The TV audience would enjoy seeing penalties, corners, and free kicks from the goalkeepers' perspective. This suggestion should be implemented as soon as possible.

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