How to Make Soccer 5x More Entertaining
Do people really need another reason to root for Brazil?
I want to preface this post by saying that I love soccer (or to those of you in Europe or South America, soccer). I’ve played it since I was 5, I love watching it, and I’ve even coached it. I care about this game more than any other sport.
Also, I don’t really care if other people–namely, Americans–don’t like soccer. Why does that matter so much to everyone? Why does soccer need to “catch on?” Can’t you just enjoy soccer if you like soccer, and if you don’t, you don’t?
However, after watching at least part of every World Cup game this year, I’ve come to realize that there are some inherent flaws in the game. One of the big issues is that the best team doesn’t always win. A team can completely dominate possession and number of passes and shots, and the other team gets one lucky goal, and they can pull off an upset. Granted, this happens in any sport. But I think it’s fair to say that this happens more often in soccer.
Also, in a game that often comes down to one goal, the refereeing has a huge impact on the game. Huge. So you have to find a way to make them more accurate. A few of my solutions address that point.
Last, if you’re not blind, I’m sure you were frustrated by the sheer number of flops, dives, and acting in the World Cup. It’s become part of the game, and it shouldn’t be. It truly makes soccer difficult to watch at times, and there’s really no place for it in the game.
Here are my solutions:
- Instant Replay. There are tons of different ways you could do this, but I’d suggest using the NFL system: Each coach gets two red flags to throw if they want to contest a specific set of circumstances: Offsides, goal-line plays–plays that make a huge difference on the game.
- Post-Game Review of Cards. This is especially relevant in tournament play, when two yellow cards equal a one-game suspension. I think FIFA should review the game tape and take away unjustified yellow cards and give yellow cards for flopping. I think this would significantly cut down on dives.
- Limited Offsides. In soccer, you are “offsides” if you are an offensive player who is between the goal and the last defender when the ball is played to you (that’s the very basic explanation). The intent of this rule is to prevent players from cherrypicking. I think it’s called way too tight, though. If you’re two inches offsides, you’re not cherry picking–you’re just not well-defended! And consider the goal Dempsey scored for the U.S. that was taken away when he was three feet away from the goal (as was the player passing the ball). Why does offsides even apply when you’re that close to the goal? I would propose this: If the player receiving the ball is inside the six-yard box and there is a defender somewhere in the six-yard box, the offensive player cannot be offsides. At the very least, I think FIFA needs to review the intent of the offsides rule.
- Power Plays. I don’t know much about hockey, but I like the power play concept. In soccer, if you are given a yellow card, you would be forced to sit on the sideline for 5 minutes while your team plays down a man. Although I think this puts more power in the hands of the refs and might actually encourage flopping (it would need to go hand in hand with #2), I think it would increase the number of goals scored, and thus increase the overall excitement of the game.
- One-Handed Throw-Ins. This wouldn’t be hard to change at any level of soccer. How cool would this be?! (Just for pride’s sake, I’ll mention that I used to be really, really good at throwing the ball in. It was just as good as a corner kick when we were near the goal, and I didn’t even have to do any fancy flips.)
I’ve heard other ideas for increasing scoring, but I don’t really like the idea of making goals bigger or forcing teams to play without keepers at certain points in the game (although the latter intrigues me–what if neither team could play with a goalie for the first 5 minutes of the game? Think about the mad rush of shots!)
Also, if you are not a goalie and you use your hands to prevent a ball from going into the goal–a ball that is definitely going into the goal–the opposing team should be awarded a goal. It’s goaltending, plain and simple, and there’s no place for it in a game where the number one rule is you can’t use your hands.
What do you think?