lmcjaho wrote:Sorry, I stopped reading after the "universal sport" comment which all soccer fans always fall back on as some kind of reason why I am supposed to care... It's a "universal" sport because it can be played as long as you have two things - space and something ball-shaped - and while it's great that a bunch of poor countries have a "sport" they can play without having to buy a bunch of expensive equipment it doesn't make it any more interesting to watch.
For the record, I wasn't trying to convince you that soccer isn't more interesting to watch, nor why you should care about the game. I meant that calling the game as a "third-world" sport is an inaccurate and an egregious statement to make. Like I said, the popularity of the sport doesn't come from the perception that it's a "poor man's game", but rather one that was imported by immigrants into said nations. Just like cricket, rugby, and basketball were imported sports, but in some of those countries, soccer has deeper roots and not necessarily out of a matter of economics. Cricket, for example, is a game that's wrongly dubbed a "rich man's game" because of the equipment involved and yet, the sport is popular in developing nations like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. First world nations in Europe, Asia, and yes, even the Americas still play the game of soccer and is still quite popular, not just because it's the game that has the least amount of equipment and expense required.
lmcjaho wrote:All that aside, let's address my real problems with the World Cup:
1 - Diving. If I want to watch that much diving I will tune in to the summer Olympics - that comes around every 4 years too, and it's pretty darn "universal" if you ask me.
2 - Lack of action. When a game has less than 10 shots on goal (a goal bigger than the size of the average house in most countries the sport is popular in) in 90 minutes + of play, it's pretty dull IMO.
3 - Draws and Goal Differential and other tie-breaker stuff. Why not play the game like every other sport out there and play until one side or the other wins? Oh yeah, because scoring is so bloody rare in this stupid game that it might take a day or two for some of these teams to break a draw.
4 - Diving. Oh yeah, I covered that already. Still bugs the bejeezus out of me.
1. and 4. Unfortunately, diving is a quirk of the game. Oh, it bugs a die-hard soccer fan like myself, but to me, it's counterproductive to rant about those things consistently. There was a time when poor tackles with the boot studs up wasn't even yellow carded and the game was made ugly for that as well (from the 60's to the early 1990's). The game was once more violent than most folks realize now and the good thing is the referees do make it a point to protect players from bad challenges. So, looking back on it, diving while a bad thing, isn't the worst thing that soccer has had to deal with (and they even yellow card diving).
Another thing, I find that most non-soccer folk nor casual fans know what a dive looks like. A dive is when a player that goes to ground when no contact is made, in the knowledge that he can get a foul or penalty in his favor. Thing is, it's very difficult to spot at normal speed and the instant replays make it a lot worse than it really is. Sometimes, a player is trying to avoid injury if he knows he's going to get a nasty tackle from his marker (the player coming over to defend). Often times during the World Cup, I saw the non-soccer fans yelling "FLOP" when there was no blatant flop and that just gives me a facepalm each time.
3. Draws only count in group stage games. Unfortunately over the last dozen years, teams with no chance of beating the opposition on their own merit will just "park the bus" or deploy all players in their own half to defend. Obviously, they want to gut out a draw. Personally, I'd like to see each team play 6 games in the group to get rid of the incentive of teams parking the bus, but in today's game where players play 9-10 month calendar years, I wouldn't want to see it come into fruition.
2. Lack of action... Unfortunately, the World Cup is NOT the best representation of the game... and unfortunately, that's the only time soccer hits into the mainstream consciousness in North America (not counting Latin America in this case). The really good football, the beautiful game is really shown best at the club level (the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, etc.). The games tend to be better-paced and you'll see more chances. Furthermore, the players are in their best roles and are more comfortable playing on a team they feature in, 9-10 months a year. And guess what? A lot less diving in the club game than at the World Cup.
Personally, I'm not trying to convince anyone to like soccer. However, I don't understand why soccer-hating folks can't go a day without belittling folks who think the game is more than a religion, like myself, or even those who have more than a casual interest in the game. At every chance anyone gets of me or anyone else of saying just the word, "soccer", they have to go about saying "soccer sucks" or "soccer is for sissies" and what have you. I understand the dislike of the game, I don't get why folks feel entitled to repeat that 1000x over. It's absolutely stupid.
On that note, that's my problem with American culture in general. You lot say you tolerate people being free to do what they believe in and yet somehow you can't accept people for being different.