Every four years I jump on the good 'ol USofA bandwagon and dip my toe in the world of soccer. It is not hard for me to get caught up in a big event. I enjoy rooting for Team USA and I feel genuine excitement before and during the games. I appreciate the athletes, their skills and I'm amazed at many of the plays throughout the World Cup. This feeling however, never translates to any kind of prolonged interest in the sport. Why?
I played the sport up to high school, even for a nanosecond with current Team USA member Kyle Beckerman (name drop, I had to). I was never very good, mostly roaming the mid-field looking to get the play turned in the right direction. I was barely above average speed, had a good leg and stumbled through a few key moves I tried to "master." Maybe deep in my subconscious is a forgotten soccer event so terrible that only the worlds leading psychiatrist could help me reconcile. Maybe I'm just blocked from embracing soccer as a whole.
Setting any brain damage aside for the moment, I wanted to consider that maybe there is something else keeping me on the outside looking in. Every sport has something you just can't stand. Pitchers having to hit in the year 2014, the tuck rule, with all due respect to T.J. Oshie, any kind of shootout and of course, last but not least, ties.
Ties: A tie is terrible. To me it is the worst outcome for a sporing event. There is no sense of loss, no victory dance, no strong emotional pull one way or another, no real closure to an event. You can lean towards happiness or sadness but logically speaking it could have gone worse, it could have gone better, a perfect nonsensical limbo.
It is the tie, and my very possible irrational hate for it, that brought me to think of soccer oddities that I just can't come around on.
Fake Injuries (Diving): Not isolated to soccer, faking injuries to get a call, disrupt play or otherwise gain an advantage drive fans and the affected team crazy. I know a simple YouTube search will pull evidence of this egregious behavior from every major sport, but in soccer this seems to be embraced. For every time a Giants player took a knee against Rams there are 100 soccer players getting knocked down by the wind and milking it. There appears to be no wiliness by the fans or the sport to rid themselves of players looking to win an Oscar for Best Phantom Injury.
Stoppage Time: Are you kidding me? An amount of time known only by the refs until about a minute left in each half is added to the actual playing time of the match. And even if you know the approximate amount of minutes added to a match an official can add more stoppage time, in stoppage time. This is harder to explain than the double switch in baseball and orders of magnitude more cryptic than an umpires strike zone. Where is the accountability? The oversight? The ability to track what could be the most crucial minutes, no, seconds of a game. The sidelines and the fans are left trust that referees are acting in the spirit of the rule.
Sync the clock to an officials stopwatch and hit the stop and start button for all time lost. Let everyone in the stadium and on TV know what is considered dead time, then stop the game at 90 minutes like a normal, sensible and rational human being. Unless of course it is a tie, then keep playing!
FIFA: No one has explained FIFA's corruptness better than John Oliver: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlJEt2KU33I.
I don't know that ties, diving, mystical stoppage times and FIFA are really keeping me from adding soccer to my weekly viewing list, but they definitely don't help the cause.
Feel free to use the comment section to completely rip apart this gut reaction of a blog post and let me know how terribly wrong (or right?) I really am.