Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 01:56:45 PM EST
Here's how it's gone so far in the World Cup as of just before Italy-Paraguay, which I predict won't alter the trend:
1-1 (England 'own goal')
2-0 (Denmark own goal)
Soccer is a game and a business, the entertainment business, right? It is more entertaining when there are more goals scored than 1.6 per game, I mean match.
Solution: an adjustable goal mouth: make it wider till the average number of goals per match is, like 6 or 7. Of course, this is a strictly know-nothing American "I want my entertainment" suggestion, and mebbe there are more 'elegant' modifications available. For example, make the goalies wear army boots and/or dark sunglasses.
But you have to believe there is a problem before you begin pondering solutions. And, when I've even suggested my line of thinking, I run into resistance from soccer's, I mean football's, 'home country' purist zealotry. So, here I am, watching 1-0, I mean nil, matches till I'm dead bored in my grave.
I make my plea having watched with usually slight interest Chicago win ice hockey's Stanley Cup. But the championship series' first match, I mean game, 6-5 in overtime to Chicago, while apparently impure and sloppy hockey, was fun as hell to watch. In the face of declining goals and TV ratings a decade ago, pro hockey reconfigured its rules so there's now an average of 7 or 9 goals per game.
And, of course, I admit that a tight 1-0 match can also be enjoyable to watch, especially if you're not a casual fan and are really into the match/game. But, to me, this is like watching a pitchers' (bowlers') duel in the game of baseball (rounders). Those are fine, once in a while, but we need diversity, strikers' (hitters') duels as well as low-scoring battles. (Similar to pro hockey, when too many baseball games end up 1-0 or 2-0 the PTB simply lower the mound or rearrange or retool the field (pitch) or ball to advantage the offense. (Only a troll would mention steroids here.))
And my other point is, such matches would still exist, when they deserved too, i.e., when in fact the goalie and/or defense was really great, or teams' offenses truly sucked.
But not when they don't deserve to. Every damn match in this World Cup is 1-0 or 1-1 or some damn thing. They're all goalies' duels it seems. And, paradoxically or ironically, these results actually diminish recognition of truly great goalie and/or defensive play. Can we, for example, say Tim Howard is a great goalie based on holding mighty England to only one goal? Well, okay, bad example (why were the England players kicking the ball straight at him?), but look at all the matches where one side scores 0 (nil, zero) or 1. 80% of the WC teams do not have great defenses and goalies. Which ones do? We may never know.
Now, if the goal mouth were widened (or whatever) and the average number of goals was 6 or 7, then a 1-0, 2-0 or 1-1 score would tell you something impressive about defenses and goalies.
UPDATE: World Cup average goals per match:
Uruguay, 1930: 3.9 goals per match
Italy, 1934: 4.1
France, 1938: 4.7
Brazil, 1950: 4.0
Switzerland, 1954: 5.4
Sweden, 1958: 3.8
Chile, 1962: 2.8
England, 1966: 2.8
Mexico, 1970: 3.0
Germany, 1974: 2.6
Argentina, 1978: 2.8
Spain, 1982: 2.8
Mexico, 1986: 2.5
Italy, 1990: 2.2
USA, 1994: 2.7
France, 1998: 2.7
Korea/Japan 2002: 2.5
Germany, 2006: 2.3
If we divided the 18 World Cups into three eras of six tournaments each, we’d have:
The first era (1930-1958): 4.3 goals
The second era (1962-1982): 2.8
The third era (1986-2006): 2.5
But perhaps the fourth era is upon us: goal scoring remains at 1.6 goals per match after the completion of the first round of matches.