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Soccer: more goals, please [updated]

by fairleft 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
0-0
2-0
1-0
1-1 (England 'own goal')
1-0
1-0
4-0
2-0 (Denmark own goal)
1-0
16 goals/10.

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, wed have:

The first era (1930-1958): 4.3 goals
The second era (1962-1982): 2.8
The third era (1986-2006): 2.5

http://pitchinvasion.net/blog/2010/06/13/where-are-the-world-cup-goals/

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.

Display:
A mistake you make is assuming that goals equate to entertainment. There is a relationship but it is not linear. Football is not basketball, where herds of giraffe run up and down their court to take it in turn to drop their ball into a bucket.

A good match is largely one between two well-matched teams purposefully attacking and creating chances. Whether or not those chances are taken becomes irrelevant; it is sufficient that there should be regular moments of genuine tension in the match. A one-sided thrashing is rarely entertaining for the neutral.

The problem with the games is not that there have been too few goals, it is that the games are dull. There have already been too many games with long stretches of time spent in aimless plodding in midfield, misplaced passes and woeful lack of imagination. This is because the structure of the tournament is such that lesser teams can profit by closing down on play to eliminate mistakes rather than profit from adventure.

The quality of play invariably improves once the first round is over and the more clueless teams have been sent packing.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 02:23:08 PM EST
The genuine-ness of the tension is related to fear or optimism that a goal may be scored. So, if long-range goals were a greater possibility, then perhaps tension would be increased with a wider goal mouth.

I agree generally  with your comments, but don't see an argument against more goals. Why not?

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 02:34:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because one of the great attractions of football is that it's a simple game. There's only about 18 rules and have more or less remained the same (offside excepted) for a century and everybody knows how the game works.

You are inventing a new game.

Personally I'd insist on more reliable footballs. Every time there's a new championship, there's a new ball and they don't fly straight (somewhat like a knuckleball in baseball) and it pisses the players off cos forwards miss crosses and goalkeepers miss shots. but sponsorship is sponsorship.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 02:45:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Making modifications to the ball is a honored tradition in the U.S., and usually in the direction of helping the offense. So, at least the authorities and traditionalists seem not to have a problem with that.

One other oddity of WC football is how life-or-death ref and so on decisions are. When several or more goals are scored such errors and controversies diminish in importance.

But, I realize a lot of my complaints are really about the World Cup's consistently crappy brand of football. I never feel remotely satisfied that the tourney has decided the best team.

There's other, better football out there, where players know each other and the goal-scoring drought isn't quite as bad.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 03:08:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, it was also a simple game back in 1954 when 5+ goals were being scored in the World Cup.

In 1954, the highest scoring world cup, the average number of goals per game was over 5. However scoring has fallen steadily since the early 1960s . . .

http://www.vancouverobserver.com/blogs/beautifulgame/2010/06/12/world-cup-questions-facing-worlds-ga me

Anyway, as I said, among the irritations is the unreliability and 'unfairness' of the results:

An Imperfect Game, Tournament?

When the dust clears after the World Cup concludes next month, it's likely that the champion will not be the team that played the best, said Gerald Skinner, an astrophysicist at the University of Maryland in College Park. . . .

The average World Cup match in 2006 featured a combined total of 2.3 goals. By analyzing the number of goals and their distribution, which is best described by a statistical phenomenon called a Poisson distribution, Skinner was able to show that if a match were replayed, the number of goals in a match and even the winner could vary considerably even if both teams played exactly as well -- partially because soccer is such a low-scoring game.

For a team that won by a commanding score such as 3-0, fans can be pretty certain that the better team won, but Skinner said that a 2-1 or 1-0 game is not as clear-cut. For example, he found that for 2-1 matches almost one-third of the time the better team does not win.

That uncertainty influences the entire tournament. Skinner said that the first round of the World Cup will likely identify the better teams because each team plays each of the other three teams in the group. But the following rounds are single elimination, and the uncertainties of the outcomes of four successive games add up. Skinner found that the likelihood that the best team would win the World Cup is around 28 percent. . . .

Skinner said that changing the game to increase the average number of goals scored would decrease the chance of lucky wins. Options include increasing the size of the goal or forcing teams to play until there was a significant goal difference, but added "I have to admit these aren't really realistic."

http://www.insidescience.org/current_affairs/best_team_not_guaranteed_world_cup_success

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 03:49:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's because as the game gets more competitive and players and techniques improve, there are smaller differences among the top teams.

Closer to you, see Batting Average

Henry Chadwick, an English statistician raised on cricket, was an influential figure in the early history of baseball. In the late 19th century he adapted the concept behind the cricket batting average to devise a similar statistic for baseball. Rather than simply copy cricket's formulation of runs scored divided by outs, he realised that hits divided by at bats would provide a better measure of individual batting ability. This is because of an intrinsic difference between the two sports; scoring runs in cricket is dependent almost only on one's own batting skill, whereas in baseball it is largely dependent on having other good hitters in your team. Chadwick noted that hits are independent of teammates' skills, so used this as the basis for the baseball batting average. His reason for using at bats rather than outs is less obvious, but it leads to the intuitive idea of the batting average being a percentage reflecting how often a batter gets on base, whereas hits divided by outs is not as simple to interpret in real terms.

In modern times, a season batting average higher than .300 is considered to be excellent, and an average higher than .400 a nearly unachievable goal. The last player to do so, with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting championship, was Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox, who hit .406 in 1941, though the best modern players either threaten to or actually do achieve it occasionally, if only for brief periods of time. There have been numerous attempts to explain the disappearance of the .400 hitter, with one of the more rigorous discussions of this question appearing in Stephen Jay Gould's 1996 book Full House.

In Full House, Gould demonstrates how one type of statistical misconception leads to misunderstanding of important phenomena. The misconception is paying attention only to the "high score" or extreme value, when a continuous distribution of values exists (what Gould calls a "full house") and is what actually drives the phenomena.

The book focuses on two main examples of this misconception: the disappearance of the 0.400 batting average in baseball, and the perceived tendency of evolution towards "progress" making organisms more complex and sophisticated.

In the first example, Gould explains that the decline of the top batting average does not imply that there has been a decline in the skill of baseball players. Quite the contrary: he shows that all that has happened is that the variance of the batting average decreased as professional baseball got better and better, while the league average remained constant as the game rules changed - together causing the extreme value of the distribution--the best batting average--to decrease as well.



By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 03:55:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your blockquotes are more about the variation of player quality, and it makes sense that there are many more very well-trained batters now, with all the (excessive) emphasis on getting good at (one) sport there is now in the States.

I really think there's a huge difference between, for example, England and the U.S. in player quality. It wouldn't bother me if that difference were reflected in the score (and not just in the generally inferior dribbling and passing by the U.S. side). But, our goalie is good (perhaps better than good, we don't really know), and theirs made one idiotic blunder. My problem is simply with the sense that the match -- and most of the matches so far -- is just a 'throw the dice and there's the outcome' kind of deal. We didn't learn anything about which country is better at soccer. A blunder here, a great goal there, a blown call . . . and that's your World Cup again, thank you for watching.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 04:07:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I really think there's a huge difference between, for example, England and the U.S. in player quality.

I caught about 25 minutes of the first half while out shopping the other day and no, I didn't think so.

In fact... Of the US' Current squad, 8 out of 23 play for English teams, including all three goalies, and only 4 play in the US (wll the other ones playing abroad, in Europe or - two of them - in Mexico).

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 04:15:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(Confirmed impressions of the players below at the squad profiles at http://soccernet.espn.go.com/world-cup/?cc=5901&ver=us).

England is littered with 'among the world's best'. Rooney was Premier League player of the year this year. Lampard and Gerrard are two of the best midfielders in the world. Carragher, Cole, and Terry are defenders near the world's best.

Dempsey and Donovan are having success in the Premier League. Onyewu looked good against England, but is described as a back-up at AC Milan. Howard is a fine player but not considered among the world's best.  More specifically, I just looked at the usual 'just missed it' quality of passing, dribbling, and striking by the Americans. My impression is that most of them are just not quite there on the consistent precision front.

But the fumbles and mishits will rarely be punished, and partly that's because it is just so damn hard to score a goal. So, who knows, maybe the U.S. will go far.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 04:59:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's generally one good rule to always keep in mind with sports: ESPN has no idea what it's talking about.  No matter the topic.  For the World Cup, they've brought in a bunch of pompous British pundits to "explain" the whole thing to us stupid Yanks, and so far those guys look pretty stupid.

As should be expected, because ESPN doesn't know what it's talking about.

You're basically getting the soccer-equivalent of Meet the Press conventional wisdom.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 07:58:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you don't think those evaluations are generally accurate, well . . .

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:07:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And if you look at the official FIFA rankings, England is rated as Number 8 in the world and The US number 14, which from memory is the second or maybe third closest disparity between the top two teams in World cup groups. If you were going to bet on an opening round game  being a draw purely on the basis of rankings then the England US game would be the second most likely from the first set, If you want to take it from the full selection of first round games then it's the fourth most likely out of all 48 games

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 09:06:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh no, not the FIFA rankings!

FIFA Asia (& Australia) Zonal Ranking

  1. Australia (FIFA #20)
  2. Japan (#45)
  3. Korea Republic (#47)

http://img.fifa.com/worldfootball/nationalteams/index.html

Isn't Korea the strongest of those three teams, by a wide margin? They had one of the few convincing first round wins, 2-0 over a seemingly strong team from Greece (FIFA's world #13). And didn't Australia just lose to Germany 4-0?

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 11:54:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rankings reflect past performance, not current condition.

The Greek team looked old and weak. In fact had South Korea not missed so many chances, the result could have been 6:0. And Japan won against the higher ranked but lacklustre playing Cameroon. So it is hard to say which is better: South Korea or Japan. (But I should mention I root for South Korea -- I like their style of game, if they get better at finishing, they could become giant-killers again.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 06:52:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Japan had one of the worst run-ups to a World Cup ever. We should judge teams by how well they play, not the FIFA world rankings.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:05:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We should judge teams by how well they play

Such judgements are always bound to be subjective. It depends on how high you value the opponents, and how you weigh by the seriousness of the match (friendlies are often used to test new configurations and players and thus don't tell much about tournament performance), and how far back you look at it (I'm guessing you only looked at Japan's performance this year, rather than back to at least two years). FIFA rankings are based on past performance just like yours, just with an apparently different weighting.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 04:38:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, no one except FIFA was in love with Australia, and most experts considered South Korea a strong Asian team. For example, here's a typical pre-tourney ranking of the three teams (out of the 32 in the WC), by Eurosport:

  1. Australia

  2. Japan

  3. South Korea

That's just about right.

http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/14062010/58/world-cup-2010-power-rankings-jubilant-japan.html

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 06:23:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As DoDo commented, FIFA rankings are based on longer term performance, and not just year on year strength. They are not meant to be a predictor of future performance, rather a basis for deciding which nation gets to have how many places in which tournaments.

Negatively, that the San Jose Sharks don't automatically get a place next year because they finally did this year.  But it's a big deal if the German Bundesliga gets 2 or 3 sure places in the Champions League or not.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 06:31:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You remind me that FIFA ranking reflects club football performance, too.

I add to yours, and you tell me if the analogy is bad, but perhaps it is somewhat helpful to compare to league tables and playoffs in US sports. It may be that one team leads the league table, but gets tired towards the end of the season, and is butchered in the playoffs. The league table is just life FIFA rankings, and playoffs like a World Cup, only it takes one year rather than four. (The analogy is of course not perfect; World Cup participation is not dependent on FIFA ranking.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 06:56:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
International football has a four-year cycle. Hence any proper ranking should reflect scores in at least four years, even if team performance changes more rapidly.

Now let's see it in terms of seriousness. The only recent tournaments to gauge Australia's (and South Korea's) tournament capabilities were the 2006 World Cup, the 2007 Asian Cup, and the 2009 Confederations Cup. In the first, the Aussies got into the round of 16, South Korea failed in the group stage. In the second, which should count less than a WC, it was South Korea that got one round further. As neither won it, of course neither participated in the Confed Cup. Next in seriousness are qualification matches. Both Australia and South Korea won their qualification group, but Australia did so with 20 points, South Korea only 16.

Based on this simple analysis, even if South Korea seems the stronger team at the moment, it should clearly be ranked lower.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 06:48:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We will see, that first result might be down to luck, or their opponents performing spectacularly badly

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 07:13:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A great deal is down to luck and one or two bad referee calls, especially with about 1.7 goals on average per match. But placing South Korea so low also just indicates FIFA is doing a bad job at ranking national teams.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:04:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, on one hand, the difference between "World's best" and "good international" is not that big.

On the other hand, football is a team sport. It's not the individual quality of the players that's deciding, but how well those qualities can be exploited in combination. A coherent team of even second-league players can beat a badly organised or individualist bunch of top-rate players. And the US team seemed rather well organised, even in the face of English attacks cutting right through defense lines. Meanwhile, England was good only in the midfield, while the defense line without the injured Ferdinand did some silly things. And then there is the goalkeeper problem.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 06:23:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"A coherent team of even second-league players can beat a badly organised or individualist bunch of top-rate players."

Hence the managerial career of Brian Clough.

A corollary of this is that the England team will underperform compared to the paper strength of their players for as long as the club game takes precedence over the national side. Even a team-building genius like Clough couldn't have done much with the sort of contact time the England coaching setup get with their players.

Regards
Luke

-- #include witty_sig.h

by silburnl on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 08:47:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree the U.S. did a good job as a team, and that as individuals most of them except four or five are second-rate. Remember this thread was initially a response to a comment saying the quality of the individuals on the U.S. team were not very much below the level of the English players.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:11:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do think the quality of the players on the U.S. team were not very much below the level of the English players. What I mean is that individual player quality can be much lower if there is good team cohesion. Consider Poland 1982, Denmark 1992 (won the European Cup), South Korea 2002. There are several more examples in club football.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:12:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know what you mean, Ireland is often one of those teams with great cohesion. But it wasn't as if the U.S. players played an unusually large number of friendlies or practiced an extraordinary amount of time.

I think many of these Americans are great athletes who just lack consistency and precision as football players. You have a decent chance when just one great speedy run, a good cross and one good finish can win a game. I'd rather an upset be a bit more difficult.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 06:30:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know why anyone would argue for more predictability in sport, surely the fact that you don't know what is going to happen is half the point, If you know what the result is very likely to be before you go, what is the point as a spectator?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 05:45:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Back to the 1954 World Cup, check some match scores. Those matches were very unequal matchups.

We didn't learn anything about which country is better at soccer.

I say those chance goals were not so chance. For example, Green's blunder might have been exceptional, but England's goalkeeper problem is well-known and goes back decades.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 06:12:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Marxism attempted to discern the scientific basis for history -- and it was the Soviet Union that first attempted to unlock the scientific basis for soccer. The grand theoretician of this approach was a Ukrainian named Valeri Lobanovsky. In high school, before signing up for the local soccer club, he had displayed mathematical acumen, winning a gold medal in the subject -- and went on to study heat engineering at the Kiev Polytechnic Institute, even as he played professionally. It was at the Polytechnic in the early '60s that he arrived at his epiphany that the cybernetic techniques and other methodology he encountered in the classroom could revolutionize his sport.

In the schematic he invented, the game could be broken into 22 component tasks, what he called "actions" and "coalition actions." He would dispatch analysts to tally each of these actions -- forward passes, backward passes, tackles -- and then feed these numbers into a computer to evaluate his players. He also recruited a young academic, Professor Anatoly Zelentsov, to run the "laboratory" at their club, Dynamo Kiev. As Zelentsov explained his task: "In my laboratory, we evaluate the functional readiness of players and how their potential can best be realized. And we influence players in a natural way -- we form them following scientific recommendations."

It was pseudoscience. But even pseudoscientists have great insights. Lobanovsky-coached teams used well-coordinated pressing and superior stamina to swarm opposing players with the ball. During the 1970s, Lobanovsky's teams twice won the European Cup-Winners' Cup. But he also ultimately ruined Ukrainian soccer -- or, at least, his less sophisticated, less charismatic disciples did. The national game is now characterized by players running and tackling frenetically. They rush to complete the actions that the computers reward, no matter their ultimate efficacy. It is ugly, and, judging by the Ukrainian performance on the international stage, not terribly effective.

Outside the Soviet Union, Lobanovsky's lab-based approach never caught on. But the quest to find the mathematical underpinnings for soccer continues. There are powerful computer programs -- Opta, ProZone -- that track how far players run in the course of a game, how many times they touch the ball, and how many times a player is involved in an attack leading to a shot. While these analytics have proved useful to scouting and buying talent, they haven't reshaped the game in the same way that sabermetrics have transformed baseball ....

Yet, after many years of academic papers, the game is nowhere close to that kind of revolutionary state. In part, this is a product of soccer's cultural hostility to data, particularly plied in the service of making rational purchases of talent. (The biggest clubs are often run by oligarchs, either Russian or Emirati, who don't care about managing the financial risks of their player purchases; or, in the case of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, by presidents who are democratically elected by fans and pander to the masses.) But the problem isn't just the culture of the game; it's the game itself. Soccer has never really had box scores or batting averages or any of the rudimentary statistics that James and Beane have rebelled against. On a profound level, soccer is immune to rigorous statistical analysis, at least compared to baseball and basketball. There is no single controlled variable -- like a batter standing at home plate -- that can form the building block for good analysis. And the flow of the game is too anarchic, with constant change of possession, to be broken into a series of discrete moments, where actions can be judged to have clear cause and effect.

And, even when the game does yield data about a player, it's hard to invest much in it. More than most other sports, the performance of an individual player is highly dependent on the team around him -- and on his coach. A great basketball star like LeBron James can flourish under the tutelage of a mediocre coach. But, in soccer, a poorly structured team can squelch even the greatest talent. This past season, when the Argentine Lionel Messi played with his club, Barcelona, he ran all over opponents. However, under his national team coach, Diego Maradona, he hardly ever scores. Maradona's formations simply can't construct room for Messi to run at opposing defenders, without him getting quickly blanketed -- and they will likely account for yet another Argentinean disaster at the World Cup.

by das monde on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:34:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's only about 18 rules and have more or less remained the same (offside excepted) for a century

Other recent changes:

  • Win is 3 points not 2: very significant change, and the one I fully endorse.
  • Golden goal, silver goal: now gone after much controversy. I didn't have problems with it, but that's maybe because I usually rooted for the teams winning by golden/silver goal...
  • Cards system, changes in what is considered an offense to be penalised: this really has to keep developing constantly, in a constant war with trends in faults and foulplay.
  • Replacement balls: maybe the game accelerated somewhat now that matches aren't played with a single ball, and thus teams and fans can't use the retrieval of a ball leaving the pitch as delaying tactic, but I was really fond of this tradition. Ball retrieval was a ritual bond between players and spectators, connecting the audience to the game.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 07:09:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Try cricket - you might see 300 runs in a day. That enough excitement for you? ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 03:06:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Handball has decently many goals.
by das monde on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:26:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At the other end you have the Eton Wall game Where on average a goal is scored once every ten years.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 04:55:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The football excitement has to be ripened, matured. Like some things in life. The modern civilization tempo offers more than enough of instant excitement, which allows football to be somewhat unique.
by das monde on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 01:25:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree entirely.

Although having draws in a tournament is still bullshit. ;)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 06:48:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There goes your American fixation on winners and loosers ;)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 07:16:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or tighters and losers...

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 08:19:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
1-1 (Ugly Paraguay goalie error)

63 mins: ITALY SCORE!!! And the keeper has had a terrible time there. Pepe's corner was decent enough but Villar decided rather than catching it to perform a kind of modern dance interpretation of a swallow gliding on the winds and simply sailed past the ball. De Rossi jabbed it in from two yards and Italy are hugely relieved to be back level at 1-1.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jun/14/world-cup-2010-italy-paraguay-live

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 05:20:54 PM EST
More obvious modifications to the rules - say letting the referee look at video footage in close calls - has fallen on soccer's conservatism. Apparently, the fact that the same rules apply in a match in division 7 as in the world cup is fundamental to soccer's image. But then again, soccer is the biggest sport there is and I suspect that the constancy of the rules makes it easier to care about.

I agree that soccer is dull, but not the reason why. I think soccer is dull because it is a sport, they tend to be that way.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 05:21:12 PM EST
I liked the 'sports' (games, really) we played when we were little kids. We had very blurry and fluid rules, and adults couldn't understand them. The rules were changed or broken on the fly, and that was okay if it made things more fun.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 05:46:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm assuming the diary is tongue-in-cheek.

On business grounds: The World Cup is one of the biggest events in the world.

Whereas nobody outside of Canada cares about the NHL.  (Yes, redstar, I know they care in Minnesota.  But let's be honest: Minnesota is just Canada with assault rifles.)  The NHL is chaotic, weaponized American football for pasty white people who make your average NBA player sound literate.

As far as Chicago goes, you'd force yourself to celebrate, too, if your alternatives were cheering for the Cubs and hoping Jay Cutler might avoid throwing a hundred picks next season.

Getting back to soccer.  I've come to appreciate it more.  The low score of US-England didn't bother me at all.

What strikes me as odd is the second-by-second change in possession and the occasionally random-looking way the ball is kicked into a group of people, to the point that it can be tough to get a good grasp of momentum and strategy at times unless it's a pretty dominant showing.  But I'm getting it.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 06:39:28 PM EST
But hockey has a puck that's nearly invisible most of the time and impossible to see when shot on goal. And yet millions of white people (and Dustin Byflugien) appear to enjoy the sport. Imagine soccer played with cricket bats and black golf balls, and try to make that popular. Sports marketing people have succeeded in northern North America, Czech-o-Slovakia and Russia. Why, because they score not too many (like basketball) but a lot of goals. Each goal is meaningful so there are 7 or 10 ecstatic celebrations per game (instead of one or two as at World Cup soccer). Not that I enjoy the game.

And no, only some of this is tongue-in-cheek. 1.6 goals per game, come on! We're really reaching a crisis here.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 06:50:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sports marketing people have succeeded in northern North America, Czech-o-Slovakia and Russia. Why, because they score not too many (like basketball) but a lot of goals.

No, it's because it snows a lot in those countries. You forgot to mention Scandinavia, too. And I can't believe you spelled Czech-o-Slovakia, specially 20 years after the country ceased to exist...

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 06:58:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That should've been Czech-or-Slovakia.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 11:56:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We're really reaching a crisis here.

Who 'we'?

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 07:00:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Everyone who sees what's happening.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:14:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As pointed out elsewhere in this thread, actual soccerfootball fans are usually more concerned with referee errors than with goal averages.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 04:14:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I pointed out, the importance of referee errors diminishes when there are more goals scored. So far, we have a roughly 30% in goals compared just to World Cup 2006. Since there is now an average of 1.7 goals per game, I predict this World Cup will be the worst ever for refs deciding matches. Or best ever, apparently, because most here seem to have no problem with the 1.7 goal average.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:15:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Should say "roughly 30% DECREASE in goals"

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:12:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the importance of referee errors diminishes when there are more goals scored

Just ask about NBA basketball...

Other topic: does it matter that all 1.7x goals look very much the same?

by das monde on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:10:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect that's an almost entirely-American view, and I doubt even the vast majority of Americans would agree with it.

It's a view that tends towards a lack of appreciation for defense and strategy.  Same way people who don't care about the sports much want to see home runs in baseball and high scores with lots of passing in American football.

That's basically wishing they'd throw half the game out.

It's also a view that tends to glorify the overpaid prettyboys instead of the guys who do the really hard work.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 09:23:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My sense is that a balance between offense and defense is what most baseball and American football fans want. We are experiencing a 30% drop in goals this year from 2006, now down to 1.6 or 1.7 goals per match. I can't quite believe that the imbalance doesn't irritate most everyone who isn't an extremely stout traditionalist. Especially because the paucity of goals very much increases the importance of refereeing errors, and we know there will be many of those. No one, I assume (too much), likes bad calls deciding matches.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:18:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing you maybe haven't taken into account is that the first round of games is always lower scoring than average. teams tend to pay more conservatively, because a defeat at this stage can make it much harder to qualify for later stages of the competition. A draw however does not puncture a teams hopes for the later stages of the competition.  From now on teams will have to play a more attacking style to avoid elimination, which will open up defences more, and ensure more goals.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 02:02:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In addition, teams are testing the waters. Now that everyone has seen the other teams play they can adapt their play to their opponents, etc.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 04:38:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sports marketing people have succeeded in northern North America, Czech-o-Slovakia and Russia.

I've never seen it written "Czech-o-Slovakia," but in any case, there is no more Czechoslovakia, Senator McCain.

Mig nailed the rest of it.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 07:10:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, McCain's not strong enough against immigration during periods of high unemployment.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:15:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe you should move to Arizona where your heart belongs.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 04:16:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We're all Arizonans now.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:19:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We may all be unemployed now, but we're not all xenophobes.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:36:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Those 'xenophobes' who want the immigration laws enforced usually decide our elections.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:14:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Immigration laws enforced" appears to be a Republican talking point:

In any case, one doesn't have to pander to xenophobes or worse just because they are swing voters. There are other hot-button issues that could become the central debating point of an election making other groups the key swing-woters, and in that case pandering to xenophobia is no longer necessary.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:22:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That claim most certainly deserves a [citation needed] note. Recent evidence suggests this is simply not the case at all.

Look at the Republican nomination for governor here in California. Steve Poizner ran as the strongest anti-immigrant candidate. Meg Whitman ran as a soft anti-immigrant candidate and refused to endorse Arizona's SB 1070. She won by something like 40 points.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 01:02:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Those 'xenophobes' who want the immigration laws enforced usually decide our elections.

Yes, that would certainly explain Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter....

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 01:08:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Minnesota is just Canada with assault rifles."

Dude, that is some funny stuff! Seriously though, hockey is WAY more fun to watch than Futbal, and my team was out after the first round of the playoffs.

Breathe too hard near an over-dramatic striker and the guy acts like he was hit by sniper fire. Yellow cards are distributed randomly. Goals are more rare than rioting English fans. The best team often loses. And I get distracted by the growing grass.

Winning Lord Stanley's Cup is the hardest accomplishment in all of sports. Goalies covered in Michelin Man protection who have the reflexes of cats. Defensemen who relish skating 10 meters across the ice just to hit you as hard as they can and knock you into plywood and plexiglass. Everyone on the ice wearing razor sharp skates and tumbling every-which-way. And having to do it all again two nights later, for two whole months, after having spent the last 10 months getting into position to do so. Best of all the NHL is a pro league with teams in two countries.

PS- The reason hockey players are pasty white is because they spend their lives in the bowels of modern sports arenas and playing on a freezing cold surface.

Some of the above was tongue-in-cheek.

by US Blues on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 07:37:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh no, Winning the Tour-de France is the hardest accomplishment in Sports

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 09:11:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, it's so hard that it's never been done (honestly).

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 04:31:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you have any evidence that there was cheating in the first one? (the second one they already started taking the train...)
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 04:39:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"in living memory"

In loving memory of Marco Pantani

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 04:47:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Evwn dishonestly, it's the hardest accomplishment in Sports


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 01:38:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Harder than Race across America? How does one even define "harder" here?

BTW, a French woman is leading in the woman's section right now, riding on a recumbant, It's been going on for 6-7 days so far, and the leaders have about 1.000 miles to go.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 02:42:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It turns out this question has been asked before. Their website compares RAAM with the Tour de France and with climbing Everest.
The Race Across America is almost 50% longer than the Tour de France. Solo racers will finish in about 10 days, which is half the time of the Tour de France, and will have no rest days. RAAM racers are not allowed to draft or ride in packs. Every solo racer will make their way across the country on their own power with no help with teammates.

Mt. Everest and the Race Across America are entirely different. Austrian adventurer Wolfgang Fasching has won solo RAAM three times and climbed Mt. Everest. In his opinion, - Everest is more dangerous, but RAAM is much harder.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 02:55:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But don't pretend you saw Patrick Kane's championship winning goal. Like the rest of us, you had to see it first on instant replay. They need to slow the pucks down so we can enjoy goal scoring as it happens.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:00:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the fun is not in seeing the puck actually going into the goal but in the movement of the players around the rink.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 04:17:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, now we're talking -- Kim Yu-Na, Mao Asada, Johnny Weir. That's my movement on the ice.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:23:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't agree with this at all. I've been following soccer since the 1994 World Cup came to Southern California, and especially since about 2002 when I shared a house with a soccer-mad roommate from Greece. And I don't think it requires a lot of goal-scoring to be an enjoyable game.

No, what's required instead is passion, clever ball-handling, and a sense that each team is going all-out to win. One of the best games I've ever seen was the 2006 Cup final between France and Italy - there wasn't much scoring in that match, but it was a very intense match with Zidane playing the game of his life - at least until he fell for Materazzi's bait.

It helps to have a good atmosphere. Soccer is not a game to be watched on the couch alone with your beer and chips. I bonded and ultimately fell in love with my wife when we stayed up until 6AM watching World Cup matches in 2002. In 2006 my enjoyment of the final was enhanced by being in a Seattle bar with about 250 other people, almost all of whom were cheering for Italy (and I for France).

In fact, Seattle has become quite a soccer-mad town itself. It was always latent, but when they got an MLS team in 2009 it crystallized that support. Earlier this year my wife and I attended a Sounders match against Columbus, and although Seattle lost, the atmosphere was amazing. It felt and sounded like a European stadium more than an American stadium. Most of the fans were our age - young folks in their 20's and 30's.

The demographics were similar at the neighborhood bar here in Monterey where we watched England v USA on Saturday. The bar is owned by an Englishwoman, and several of her English friends were there - but they were outnumbered about 2-1 by Americans cheering loudly for "U-S-A! U-S-A!" Again, most of those were young people in our 20's and 30's.

As that generational shift continues, I fully expect soccer to be a much more popular sport in the US over the coming years and decades. If/when the World Cup returns to the US, either in 2018 or 2022, I am sure that will consolidate and significantly expand the already growing public interest here in the sport.

Even if there aren't that many goals scored in South Africa '10.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Mon Jun 14th, 2010 at 09:19:36 PM EST
I haven't seen any of that yet...
Dumb goalie fumbles don't really count. What we need to set the Cup alight is some really clever ball-handling, like Maradona's match-winner all those years ago...

The qualifiers did provide one of those memorable moments : the unjust elimination of Ireland, and the unjust qualification of France, was due to a bit of basketball by French captain Thierry Henry. This did not cause an actual war, but I have a feeling that it was the final straw that precipitated the Irish economy into collapse.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 04:36:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I grew to love the game in 1982, the previous time when New Zealand qualified. I probably wouldn't have paid attention anyway, but I was sharing a house with two soccer-playing lesbians, so we rented a TV for the duration.

Then it happened again in 1998. I had been living in France for twelve years or so, two children, but still very much Citizen of the World. Then this black-blanc-beur outfit, a fairly unfancied bunch of interesting personalities, jelled into a thing of beauty. I fell in love, and applied for citizenship.

And now I'm like, oh god, what have I done?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 04:45:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And I don't think it requires a lot of goal-scoring to be an enjoyable game.

No, what's required instead is passion, clever ball-handling, and a sense that each team is going all-out to win.

Hear hear. My favourite example is France-Paraguay, round of 16 in 1998. The time preceding the only goal were the most intense 112 minutes I have seen, and that with the losing side playing total defense! But they literally gave their last against that tournament's strongest offense, and Blanc scored the golden goal when they could barely stand.

There is even a 0:0 I keep in good memory: Angola-Mexico, in the group stage in 2006. In that match, Mexico was the sky-high favourite and Angola had one man sent off, but Angola gave it all, especially the goalkeeper who made some spectacular saves.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 07:26:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Angola-Mexico was a great match, painful for Mexico fans but riveting.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:25:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was in Paris that day. At first, Chans Elize was full of Danish and Nigerian supporters. When I climbed up the Eiffel tower, a couple of huge screens were visible from there, and France-Paraguay was obviously on. When I came to Gare du Nord to take a TGV, everyone was still silently glued to TV screens. That was a long match.
by das monde on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:20:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and while i had grown up playing soccer since i was six - just like everyone else in my california college town - the experience of being at a match with real soccer fans drumming and dancing and singing was a revelation.

i think the big shift in american soccer will come when the coaches and refs of youth soccer players actually know the game from growing up playing it, instead of by reading a boom and watching videos, as the coaches and refs when we were growing up had (with the exception of the latin american nuclear physicists who were coaching their kids' teams, who were like gods among men for their ability to dribble competently and explain the offsides rule). by next decade, our fans and players ought to be way better than the current generation.

and then there's the huge mexican-american immigrant soccer fan/player population, who never count in the media accounts of "what americans like" because the old, white sports journalists don't really think of them as "real" americans anyway, if they think of them at all. as latinos become a bigger and bigger plurality of america, that'll shift american sports too. especially if we can get them to cheer for team america (which might be more likely if there were more latinos playing on the national team, which tends to recruit mainly from college soccer).

the next decade of american soccer will look very different, is my guess. hopefully they expand MLS so that less of the country is without a team.

by wu ming on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:09:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by wu ming on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:11:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What I find so interesting about the explosion of interest in soccer in Seattle over the last 10 years - which is both broad and deep - is that it has happened almost totally independently of the Mexican American community, whose presence in Seattle is very small.

MLS does seem to know the value of expanding to have a national presence - the Pacific Northwest will have three teams next year, when Vancouver and Portland come into the league. California has three teams, including the revived San Jose Earthquakes (which left in 2005 to Houston).

Already the two LA teams have huge followings. The Galaxy are also the MLS's best team by far this season, but Chivas USA has a strong following among SoCal Mexican Americans, owing to the popularity of the original Chivas (CD Guadalajara).

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 01:08:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
in the late 80s-early 90s when our team was playing in summer tournaments up there. the style of play was totally different - the ground was too damn wet, and the players were nearly all big scandinavian kids who played a predominantly long ball air game - quite a shock for our heavily latino dribble-and-pass team. a significant % of the prominent women's soccer players have come from the portland-seattle corridor.

i'm not surprised at all that the sounders have a strong following. the only time i went to the thankfully now demolished kingdome was to watch the russian team beat the pants off of the us team in 1994. so nice to have being an american soccer fan not be solely an exercise in masochism.

by wu ming on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 01:17:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The height of the baseball pitcher's mound was reduced somewhat about a decade ago to improve the chances of the batters.

In Denver's new baseball park, the combination of low air density and dry air (which dehydrated the balls, making them more elastic) led to a lot of home runs. Now they keep the balls in a big humidor.

How about basketball? The NORMAL situation is that you run down to the other end of the court and get a basket; the UNUSUAL case is to miss. Therefore, the scoring should be like golf: you get a point when you miss an attempt, and the low score wins. Then you would have results in the thirties instead of over 100.

Well, you would if your team was Wilt Chamberlain, with a field goal percentage of 0.727 in 1972...

by asdf on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:06:40 AM EST
asdf:
How about basketball? The NORMAL situation is that you run down to the other end of the court and get a basket; the UNUSUAL case is to miss. Therefore, the scoring should be like golf: you get a point when you miss an attempt, and the low score wins. Then you would have results in the thirties instead of over 100.
Then you could just exhaust your possession to lower the number of attempts...

The question is Basketball is how quick you can score.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 04:18:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, but they already do that. When ahead, they just waste time...
by asdf on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 08:18:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]

The height of the baseball pitcher's mound was reduced somewhat about a decade ago to improve the chances of the batters.

No time right now to check, but wasn't that done after the 1966 or 1968 seasons, when Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax and Juan Marichal amongst a host of others had such overwhelmingly commanding seasons? That's over four decades ago.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 02:43:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't really care about soccer either way, so read the following appropriately.

There is something to be said for the idea that, when a team is not likely to score more than one goal in a game, than the importance of freak-accident goals is much higher than it is in situations where goals are more common.  Thus, one could argue that minor increase in the average number of goals would be more likely to result in games being decided by skill, rather than freak accidents, and where a team would have a reasonable chance of recovering and winning a game despite a freak accident.

Would the game be dramatically different if the average score was closer to 3, rather than 1?  I'd actually like to hear some opinions on the matter, as I'm curious.

by Zwackus on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 06:15:23 AM EST
  1. The game would be dramatically different if the goal number increase is achieved with a significant rule change.
  2. Freak-accident goals are not always as freak-accident as the losing side would like to see it. For example, if a team with a nervous defense allows the opponent free movement across the midfield and thus too many tense moments next to the goal, a mistake is bound to happen.
  3. Also, freak-accident goals are something teams risk. If your strategy is to score early and then batten down the hatches and protect the advantage rather than try to achieve a second goal, then loosing the bet is your fault.
  4. The average number of goals does depend on a lot more things than rules. There is the difference between teams, but there is the evolution of strategies, too. Which is constant. There have been at least three previous eras of football when defensive football won overhand, each time new attacking strategies came up.

With all that said, I wish there would be more goals, too, I wish we would not be in another era of defensive football. But the Champions League winner (Internazionale Milano) already signalled that we are.

Still, I wonder how the German team will progress. Their first match (4:0 vs Australia) was a very attacking football in a novel team configuration, but I wonder how they will do when faced with a really strong defence, or a team with an attack matching theirs (the German team's defense is not so good). If they get far, maybe the new team configuration we saw will make school, and that could end the defensive football rennaisance.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 06:38:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the German team ... very attacking football in a novel team configuration

I can't find any discussion of this ET; so I spell it out. Methinks Ballack missing out from the WC was the biggest boon to the German team. Ever since Franz "Kaiser" Beckenbauer, it was a dogma that the German team should have a central playmaker. I remember when that role was given to Ballack, more or less against his will. But now that Ballack is gone and a very young team stood on the pitch, what did I see? Two playmakers: Ösil and Müller. And a complex, unpredictable and playful game the Nationalelf is really not famous for. The Aussies tried to isolate Ösil, but that was useless.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 08:05:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
1 - Entirely true.  Then again, as mentioned before, other games have managed to tweak the rules a bit to encourage offense, without seriously damaging the heart of the game.

2 - True enough, but it'd say a lot more about the defense if it happened twice, or three times, rather than once.

3 - Again true, but this would be a far, FAR less viable strategy of 1 was not a winning score.

4 - No counter for this, as it is undeniably true in every sport.

by Zwackus on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 09:06:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Football already tweaked the rules to encourage offence. It's been over a decade since it's not allowed for goalies to take the ball with their hands if it is kicked to them by fellow teammates - the goalie must play on with his feet and can only take the ball in his hands if the ball is passed to him with the torso or head.

Also, delaying tactics were compensated somewhat by changing the rules for discretionary "injury time" at the end of each half.

If you want high-scoring football, move to a smaller pitch. People forget that a football pitch is 100m long - there's plenty of time and distance for the defence to react. 7-a-side and 5-a-side football as well as indoor football are all higher-scoring, like (say) handball.

People also forget the goal is 7.32m wide and 2.12m high. Only people who've never played goalie in a full-sized pitch can think that's too small.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 09:15:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is your argument that they already tweaked, so they don't need to tweak again?

And, I don't understand where the argument is in your last paragraph: simply stating the goal mouth's dimensions doesn't make it 'obvious' that it's large enough already. My sense is that if it were wider (or higher) more goals would be scored. I don't think you're disagreeing with that.

I'm not an expert, maybe they can do something nuanced with the ball to increase its velocity and reliability? Maybe they can loosen the offsides rule? But if all else fails, widen the goal.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:23:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll reiterate...

Migeru:

If you want high-scoring football, move to a smaller pitch. People forget that a football pitch is 100m long - there's plenty of time and distance for the defence to react. 7-a-side and 5-a-side football as well as indoor football are all higher-scoring, like (say) handball.
Why do you think 11-a-side football is more popular than 7-a-side or 5-a-side or handball, it all the other ones are faster paced and higher-scoring?

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:28:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A less wide pitch -- so it's easier to play on American football fields -- has been proposed at times in the U.S., and (of course) FIFA rejects any deviation from its rules. But I think it would actually make scoring go down. A shorter field might work, but then the fans in the 'end zones' get even farther from the action.

There are likely relatively simple rules adjustments that can be made to boost scoring, involving the goalie, the 'area', and the off-sides rules. Despite the mass outpouring of love for 1-0 games here at Eurotrib, even the conservative FIFA bureaucrats will likely do something after this World Cup. Probably not nearly enough, but something.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 01:59:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Other games already exist. You want to play 9-a-side football on an American Football pitch? Be my guest.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 04:36:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Typically we see resistance to monopoly (in this case FIFA's) as the sign of a liberal or left tendency, but obviously not always.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:16:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What are you rambling about, exactly, now?

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:51:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FIFA is a private monopoly. Consider questioning and challenging its authority.

Football and its specific rules are a political creation of FIFA, and you as a football consumer have political choices.

You can choose (1) to have the conservative peasant mentality and just accept whatever FIFA gives us and say "FIFA has decided this is soccer." (2) You can look at soccer as the game of all the people who like it and pay for it, and pressure FIFA to modify it so it's more entertaining. (3) You can say, I love soccer exactly the way it is, so I don't feel like asking FIFA to change things.

Option (1) is politically (very) conservative, but it fits you when you say, "Go away and play/watch a slightly different version of soccer, 'we' like FIFA's soccer, and it and only it is soccer." Besides, soccer is a monopoly, so that suggestion is not a realistic or practical one.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 06:45:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Major League Baseball is not only a private monopoly, it is one granted by Congress, in all it's wisdom. One could also challenge the National Basketball whatever, or or the Budweiser League. Though in amurka, or Spain, or Brittania, there are no solvency regulations, as there are in German football.

and your point is? To democratize NASCAR? what?

One goes to sport with the league you're given, not the one whatever, to paraphrase a criminal.

i am a conservative peasant, though i pay no fealty to FIFA. and i'm quite comfortable letting FIFA have control of this particular bread and circus, since i spend more energy trying to change the energy balance on this fuckin dumb planet, and find that changing FIFA ranks way low on the list of things.

You spend your time changing the monopoly which controls the sport of padded polar bears with skates, and i'll spend my time doing whatever it is that i do.

(you take a riff about goals in the World Cup and now move to political control of sports when we can't even control where the money goes?)

Did you know that 23.17% of NASCAR attendees were unable to enunciate after a day at the races, while only 23.17% of the Senate were able to enunciate BEFORE a race?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 07:23:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You need to lay off of NASCAR, the 'merican national sport. These European wimps can kick balls around all day long if they want, but real men drive spec cars with pushrod V8 engines, carburetors, and solid rear axles. And cupholders.
by asdf on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:16:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah no the laws of the game aren't a political creation of FIFA they're a creation of the  International Football Association Board, the guardians of the "Laws of the Game". The board has five members FIFA, the Football Association, the Irish Football association, The Scottish Football Association, and the Welsh Football Association

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 05:06:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or, (4) you can create new rules which you believe create a game more entertaining for you, which will be a new game, you can call it "soccer Mark 2" or whatever. If it is more entertaining than football, consumpers will make their choice.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 05:39:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no mass outpouring of love for 1:0 games on ET, but there is one for football and not just on ET. Fort some reason the only fans on any web board I see who propose sweeping rule changes to football when they don't like the look of the game seem to be Americans. Elsewhere, people tend to focus on refereeing or blame coaches.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 04:46:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To be fair, Americans prone to doing that generally do it with their own sports too.  It seems more an American obsession with changing the rules -- college football, baseball, the Geneva conventions, etc -- rather than anything particular about soccer.

I'd venture to guess maybe a third or more of the ripping on soccer I see at American-dominated forums these days is made up of Americans snarking on other Americans' aversion to soccer, although that's probably at least in part a function of the websites I'm prone to reading.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:06:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Has Bill Maher pitched in on the World Cup yet?

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:10:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not that I know of.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:12:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are some sports popular in Europe where rules are changed fast and wide: Formula 1 is one. However, there is a rule of thumb often quoted by sports journalists here, that if one starts changing rules in a sport, it won't stop, and that signals that sport's death. This is not without some validity for Formula 1, where they toyed with practically everything to make overtakings more common again, to no avail.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:22:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's somewhat similar to the attitude towards rule-changing in football.

Elsewhere it hasn't been so good.  The NFL and NCAA have changed the rules to protect players, especially quarterbacks, to the point that defenders are left asking, "How come they can hit me any way they like, but if I slip and hit the QB too low it draws a flag?"

The idea behind the rule -- preventing head and knee injuries -- is good, but you get some absurd calls as a consequence (defensive lineman gets pushed by the offensive lineman into the QB's knees and penalized), and the question of bias towards some quarterbacks enters into it.  And you probably don't accomplish much with the new rules.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:33:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...adding: "Elsewhere...."  I had a point about instant replay above prior to that point that I accidentally deleted.  I think instant replay's been fine.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:35:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, my personal look across this sports-cultural barrier from the other side:
  • I love basketball.
  • I can watch a hockey match, though I can lose interest quickly. (Then again it is an European game too.)
  • I glaze over after a few minutes of American Football, but at least I believe I undersdand the game.
  • I. Just. Don't. Get. Baseball. I believe hitting the ball far away is supposed to be a good thing, but I am not sure :-) All the rest is mystery to me (and zero entertainment value). And that after having enjoyed some youth movies about baseball playing protagonists as a teenager (and Japanese art films with baseball-playing protagonists later on). (But that's just me. Some of my acquintances were avid fans and amateur players without having any connection to the USA.)


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 05:57:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Basketball, I liked to play, but as entertainment I find it a bit dull
Hockey, Ok but it dosn't absolutely grab my attention
American Football, depends on my mood, But all the bloody breaks in play GAAAAAAH!!
Baseball, Now that I agree with you, And televised baseball is just tedium of the first order to me. (it just  seems so many levels below Cricket) A variety of good films, but the real experience just doesn't seem to live up to it.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 10:47:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There have been numerous rule changes designed to break the game out of gridlock and boredom, and the modern game is much the better for it. In no danger of dying.

Another example, more extreme, is cricket, with its once-heretical limited-over forms which have hugely boosted the excitement (and commercial opportunities, obviously)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 12:56:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We have a tradition of thinking out-loud brainstorming on every topic. I hear it all the time - ridiculous, beyond gimmick-bad ways to fix the draft, speed up baseball games, fix the playoff system, whatever - stuff that doesn't hold up to the most basic scrutiny.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:52:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, exactly.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:54:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My main point was recognition that there is a lack of entertainment problem caused by lack of goals, not any specific suggestion. My soccer change suggestions were loudly tentative (I have loudly proclaimed that I'm not an expert and cede to experts the specifics on changes) and not sweeping, and made in a light-hearted tone (the stuff about army boots and dark sunglasses was a joke) with 'please' on top.

We more or less know the FIFA experts (none Americans, I assume) and marketing people also recognize exactly the problem I highlight, and will modify aspects of the sacred game to deal with it (in their half-measure, half-assed way, probably). It's odd the resistance here.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:26:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You do realize the size of the pitch may have something to do with how far one can kick a ball?

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:52:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 06:50:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is getting to the point where one has to ask you if you have ever kicked a (spherical) regulation football...

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 05:15:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Surely if we wait long enough, American football fields will expand as the rules are fiddled with to help the offence and make the game more spectacular and high scoring for the crowd?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 04:59:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i  suspect there is more than a little arrogance behind the english fans wailing about freak errors and accidents costing the game when their goalie botched a shot. if a striker whiffs or boots the ball over the goal, or when a midfielder gets the ball picked off them while dribbling, that's not seen as a freak accident, it's part of the game. but when a goalie does it, then the goal doesn't really "count" and the other team didn't really deserve the point.

in a related manner, fan whining about blown ref calls tends to crop up a lot when a prominent team is beaten by a team deemed too bad to actually legitimately defeat them. i heard this about south korea all the time in 2002, but when i watched their games, then and in this cup, what i saw was a korean team hustling hard and making lots of opportunities because of that effort, even when their pedigree would have suggested they should lose badly.

by wu ming on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:52:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would like to hear some open-mindedness on the topic too. Unfortunately, people seem to have misinterpreted this essay as 'anti-soccer' or whatever. It is actually just anti-extremely-low-scores, for your reason among others.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:28:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's some open-mindedness/another opinion for you fairleft:  A good post opens up discussion . . . and your post definitely did that, just look at the number of comments! Not only that, because ET has such a knowledgeable base, I learned a lot about soccer that I otherwise would not have known.

I agree that for someone who is only mildly interested in soccer, so far the games have been rather dull. But I'm not sure the reason is solely due to the low number of goals. For me (an interested, but casual observer) it has appeared that the teams so far have been quite well-matched, but that a majority of the individual players were not controlling the ball, were not focused, and were not playing very well as a team. As Helen points out, this should improve as the better teams move ahead. Compared to baseball, a soccer match, any soccer match, seems fast-paced.

What is thrilling is that soccer/football is picking up speed as a spectator sport in America. It seems as though it has been a very long time coming. What I mean by that is, although soccer has been played in schools and kids' soccer leagues have been around since the 70's, the sport seemed to have difficulty getting started as a spectator sport until relatively recently (maybe the late 90's?). Prior to that, it was okay for kids to like to play soccer, but the only acceptable American spectator sports were limited to watching men push and shove (football), watching men spit (baseball), or watching men run up and down a court, attempting to drop a ball into a bucket (basketball).

by sgr2 on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:35:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Word to the wise.

Do not attempt to disparage the perfect diamond mix of athletics and chess that is real baseball while i'm present.  Watching guys spit?  Do you think that could be because it is absolutely necessary to keep your mouth moist so you can relax, relax until the moment you must explode with concentrated milisecond effort? why do you think the old guard chewed tobacco, and the new millionaires chew bubble gum? why do you think that sunflower seeds w/salt are a stable of every dugout for the last century?

Plus the game is played every day, 162x/yr. in summer. (Old guard used to play with wet lettuce in their caps, to keep the head wet and cool.)

:-)

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 01:06:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apologies, CH. Your points are well-taken, and I see your POV. And I appreciate your filling me in on some of the nuances of the game which had previously escaped me. (Especially about the spitting . . . I've always wondered why people spit. Now, I guess I know. Sort of.)

My memories are of being dragged by my baseball loving son and his buddies to Candlestick Park on too many occasions when there wasn't any action for hours on end. Your analogy to chess was a good one. It was just the athletic part that was missing (unless you include the mouth moistening bit). Thank goodness for the tailgate parties, though.

by sgr2 on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:07:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Candlestick Park, nothing like the wind sandblasting your face on one side.

When you've really understood the ballet-like instant athleticism of turning a double play, diving for a one-hopper then getting up to throw the runner out by a millisecond, or one-handing a frozen rope deep in the gap in left-center when your eyeballs are bouncing with each sprinter step, you'll get the athleticism part.

Not to mention the ability to hit a 151 kmh tailing fastball at a precise point in time at a precise point in space with about 0.3 seconds to decide if, when and where.

perhaps an outing to the most beautiful ballpark in the world by McCovey Cove would be in order. :-)  light years beyond Candlestick.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:22:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No kiddin' about the wind! Probably the REAL reason I was never more of a fan. But the new downtown stadium is truly a gem (got to see a brief glimpse at an opening party, but no game), and a friend has season tickets, so next time I'm in town I sure hope to catch a game . . . if only to watch the water retrievers in McCovey Cove. BTW, from your comments I take it you've actually played this game before.  :-)
by sgr2 on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 05:39:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder if the popularity of baseball can be related to climate. It's pretty hot in middle America in the summer, and standing in the outfield waiting for a fly ball is a lot more practical than chasing a soccer ball around.
by asdf on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:19:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect that's true.  You probably don't want people playing the fast-paced outdoor sports at that level in summer here for fear that everybody will die of heatstroke.

Similarly, baseball in January in New York or Boston doesn't make a lot of sense.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 04:38:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I dont know whether this will work outside the UK, but there was a program about the shared history of Baseball and Cricket on the radio.  (Including some snipets that it actually is another European game, and the myth of its origin in the states is false)

In there they say that up until the civil war, Cricket and baseball were equally popular in the US, and noone is quite sure why Cricket faded away after that.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 02:30:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
in spain, italy, africa, the middle east, or most of latin america.
by wu ming on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 11:33:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, thanks.

On the other hand, I don't see what is thrilling about one particular sport gaining popularity. And, why not cycling or cricket and not soccer? Who cares? If countries want to obsess on a single sport or 2, or 5 or 7, I don't care either. It's not a tragedy that India focuses its sports dreams almost entirely on cricket and, if a boy is not good at that, he generally turns toward doing well in school (if he's lucky and rich enough to be in school).

I do know -- from a common sense and not a free market perspective -- that the sports entertainment industry captures an unreasonably large amount of public money in the U.S. (and elsewhere?), charges outrageous ticket prices, and vastly overcompensates owners and players. This gets more irritating in year three of a deep recession. So, I'm in favor of the public and government exerting some sort of popular control over our sports-industrial complex, and reducing its cost burden on society. But, that's another diary.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 02:13:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm in favor of any sport gaining in popularity that's fun to watch, or fun to play. I just didn't like American football that much because there seemed to be so many injury opportunities involved with the game, and as a Mom I had a problem with that. Soccer was just as much fun to watch, and generally there seemed to be less injuries (or less severe injuries) on the field. Just a personal opinion, though.
by sgr2 on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:22:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, American football is terrible for injuries, and many of them are a permanent annoyance or worse. Soccer is also a great lifetime health kind of sport, or it can be. Lots of running, a good aerobic workout.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:30:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You've got yo be joking.

Soccer is also a great lifetime health kind of sport, or it can be.

Lots of awkward strains on the leg joints, especially knee ligament injuries from twisting motions with the foot firmly set on the ground (the boots have studs to make sure the boot doesn't slide on the grass which is great for running in a straight line and keeping balance on one foot but awful for turning). And that's saying nothing of the contact injuries when a careless or unlucky tackle is made.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:49:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"... can be ..."

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 06:51:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This comment is in response to all you've said here over and over.

You don't seem to understand this tournament, perhaps this sport, at all. This is a month long tournament, for one thing, with all that entails for both big and small national clubs.

It's the game itself which takes the spotlight. I just watched a very entertaining, hard-fought 0-0 between Cote d'Ivoire and Portugal. There was precision missing in both teams, and neither could finish... but there was always something just waiting to happen which captured football fans.

One thing amurkans forget is this game brings the pleasure of two halves of 45 continuous minutes (plus) without commercials.  it also means the athletes are truly that. One sees strategies develop, one analyzes the individual strengths and failures, the brilliant and the missed passes, the explosions of breakaway running. it doesn't always need to be capped by a Goal Orgasm.

Plus, if you watch on TV, you don't realize what an incredible, though beautiful game it is.  You stand 5 meters from a Bundesliga 3 match, or a top amateur match, and you feel the constant danger and explosive physical contact.  When you've got that in your blood, then you can judge what's up from TV. (It's amazing to me that anyone survives a real match, and i've done hundreds of hard slides into the 2nd baseman or shortstop.)

More goals? You've already got your hockey, which is a mix of sport and World Wrestling Federation entertainment. It's one thing for a wide receiver to juke a US football cornerback for 0.8 seconds, it's another to do it controlling a ball with your feet.  some of us get pleasure in watching that as well.

You've made your point, it sits well with some, but you really shouldn't criticize football until you've a real understanding of the sport.

There's far more to criticize about the effect of predatory capitalism on sports, than whether there's not enough scoring in the World Cup.

(PS.  This is the World Cup, which is different than the various national leagues, where the football is also different.  Remember, these guys may be tops, but they don't play together very often.
PPS.  This is the World Cup, not the world series, which includes one club from Canada among the amurkan ones. We even saw New Zealand stay alive by getting a tie point against Slovakia, where both scored their first World Cup goals ever. And if you don't believe the early morning streets in New Zealand aren't alive with revelry right now, you should go back to watching grown men fight with padding.)

(nothing personal, just discussing sports brings out a bit of testosterone.)

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:53:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe it's an affliction of sports-related diaries -- of which this might be my first one -- that super fans interpret a request by a casual fan to change one aspect of a game as an attack on the game itself.

There's no evidence at all here for me being anti-soccer or whatever you're directing your feelings toward, but I do admit being a casual rather than super fan. The diary "is actually just anti-extremely-low-scores . . ." But there's plenty of evidence here of the extreme conservatism of die-hard super soccer fans.

Which is unfortunate, because with a few tweaks the game would be much more entertaining for most people. And I bet "super fans of soccer just the way it is" would continue to enjoy the game much more than casual fans even if the average score were 3-2 instead of 1-.67. Everyone happier, good. And, actually, I have a feeling FIFA will eventually figure the preceding out, so I will 'win' this debate eventually in the 'real world'. The low scoring has gotten too ridiculous to ignore.

About the Ivory Coast Portugal match, I love watching precision passing, precision scheming, and so on, and I get frustrated by crappy finishing, so I'm not sure how much I would have enjoyed the match. As you say, but I think many many agree with me, the big national leagues in Europe provide the precision and teamwork that the World Cup is missing, and I enjoy that football more than the World Cup variety. And, after watching World Cup after World Cup since, I don't know, '92, I've finally decided the great joy when your team wins has to be dimmed very significantly by the certainty that -- in these low-scoring matches -- doing well in the World Cup depends very much on getting the best of bad ref calls.

And testosterone away, it's all in good fun really.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 02:35:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Never thought you were "anti-soccer."  Just that your wish for more goals shows you don't understand the game.

"extreme conservatism of die-hard soccer fans." ???
be careful there. you wouldn't want to seem blind. equating protection of a game you don't quite understand might not be conservative, especially around here.

at least here some might believe the game was not designed, nor did it evolve, to please amurkan tv audiences. unlike amurkan football, where athletes of superior ability are now weaponized.

the game isn't designed to be "entertaining for most people." it's simply evolved the way it has.  it's changed over the decades, not least that all the athletes are far better trained. sometimes we enjoy watching them kick the ball under speed and pressure from other great athletes.

for some of us conservatives, we'd rather watch trained athletes kick the cheney-bush caball around for a coupla decades, or perhaps a bit of high hard chin music to some masters of the universe... but that's not as possible as a few hours non-commercial break at watching what the human body is capable of doing.

A bad ref call can change a soccer game, but so can a very bad call change a perfect baseball game, which would have been the 21st time in a whole century (and the second time in a week)... and that only happened last week.

So i say, first learn the game really well, only then do you have a chance to figure out how it can evolve to your taste.

PS. high hard chin music is baseball talk for a fastball (hard leather, 158 km/h, 2-seam or 4-seam, right at the batter's chin.) i'd give anything to throw one at Lloyd Blankfein.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:07:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You've written a very conservative response, in the sense that you don't assign any role to popular control over the game. 'It just changes, and we watch and enjoy as best we can'.

I think suggestions are a good thing.

And the game is for casual fans as well as religious ones. I feel like I entirely 'get' love of low-scoring games (usually dominated at the WC by bad ref calls) and certainly have watched a helluva lot of them and I enjoy them. Just not as much as ones with a little or a lot more scoring. I bet my feelings are about average for a soccer fan, in his and her secret heart of hearts.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:40:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
as more players add up yellow and red cards, more players get injured, and teams find ways of adjusting to the new ball and deafening vuvuzelas. more 10 v. 11 games tend to lead to more goals.

but even then, games with lots of goals tend not to make for as interesting a match as close games, if just because the tension of an evenly matched, well played game isn't usually evident in a blowout (this is, of course, not true if you're actually playing the game and on the side scoring lots of goals. that rocks). it's harder for a fan mentally trained to anticipate the short burst (advertisement break-related) cycles of american football to appreciate, in a way not entirely dissimilar from the disorientation that a baseball fan who watches it on TV feels when they go to their first game in a real ballpark, when there are no ads, and the game seems to last for-freaking-ever.

it's almost like holding your breath, the growing tension as teams almost make a long-awaited shot, or a thrilling breakaway. the tension just builds and builds, and finds sweet emotional relief from a blown shot, or a foul, or a goooool, but often it just builds all game long.

it's not really a problem, you just need to sort of train your brain to anticipate how the game plays out. soccer fans get it, by and large.

by wu ming on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:21:41 PM EST
i hope the brazilians don't give up on the joga bonita and play defensively, because that really would suck.
by wu ming on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:22:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is and would be tension simply because comebacks would be easier. Teams couldn't rest comfortably on a 2 or 3 goal advantage, they would have to continue to attack and risk being scored on. That's why I brought up ice hockey: there are games that end up 2-1 or whatever, but there are also times when a team will be down 3-0 and then twenty minutes later the score is tied 3-3.

I think soccer fans are getting entirely too accustomed to and defensive about the 1-1 and 0-0 matches. That is like watching a low-scoring baseball game: every pitch counts, and so on, and that can be great fun to watch, especially for the devoted fan. But if that were the only type of baseball game, the game would naturally become much less popular.

About the 10 on 11 matches, Serbia just experienced that yesterday. The Guardian expert and most observers had no idea why the Serbian defender was given the red card (he hadn't received a yellow earlier) for either nothing or routine interference. Ghana, I think, scored after he was sent off and ended up winning 1-0. Again, did a blown ref's call decide another World Cup match? Maybe.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:31:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is that soccer is insanely popular worldwide, to the point where everything starts to slow down when the games are on because everyone's watching. there isn't anything that needs fixing, in terms of building a fan base. it's already extremely successful just as it is.

people are dismissing your solutions because they're unnecessary.

by wu ming on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:41:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And a big part of the appeal of soccer seems to be meta-discussions about improving the game.

Obviously some decisions are unfair, players cheat, clubs may not be models of probity, matches are thrown, money changes hands, and in the middle of it are twenty two guys kicking a ball around.

It's always possible to make the game more perfect. But this would eliminate some significant parts of its appeal.

And besides - soccer used to be a participative semi-amateur sport that was a major focus for communities.

Now it's a professional high-value sport that's a major focus for corporations.

The best way to improve soccer would be to take it back to its roots - but clearly, that's not going to happen.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:46:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think people here at ET are simply being defensive: this is not an "I hate soccer" diary but most here have chosen to respond as if it is. Soccer's goal drought has long been recognized except here as a growing concern, and now, with goals down 30% from 2006, it presumably will be recognized as more of a problem.

I didn't question football's worldwide popularity, but sometimes I feel here like I'm talking to General Motors executives circa 1973. Could we be proactive, and maybe look into the future a little? If scoring declines another 30% next World Cup, then will the "don't change a thing" crowd begin to stir?

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 02:49:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To rephrase myself from upthread, if goals are down 30% vs. 2006, that is after four years in a century old game that had many ups and downs in that number, what most fans think of is not sweeping changes of basic rules. Most fans would
  • debate changes to refereeing;
  • blame vuvuzelas or
  • the sponsored new ball or
  • too long club seasons producing tired top players; or
  • criticise the tactical choices of the coaches (tis is the most common behaviour), or
  • just demand the replacement of the national coach.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:56:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I should have added: the World Cup is just one event of football. You want to fiddle with rules also applying to continental championships for national teams and club teams, as well as national championships, national cups, and regional ligas for club teams; based on the first match of potentially seven matches which teams are to play in one tournament held every four years.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 05:45:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
fairleft:
There is and would be tension simply because comebacks would be easier.
Did you know the probability of a lead reversal in the second half of a game is equal to 1/2 and independent of the length of the game?

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:42:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 02:39:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, because the statistics get all weird if there are scores of 0-0 and 0-1 involved.
by asdf on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:20:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was going to leave a comment about the World Cup.  In the Open Thread.  But now it all seems to have become so contentious that I've decided to leave it here.  So my comment will die along with this diary and not spread contention to other parts of the blog, cancer-like.

I'm a fan of the World Cup.  Less so than most Europeans, and more so than most Americans.  I like watching it.  I really like the international aspect of it, and am glad the US is finally participating in that global game as a legit competitor, and with a real fanbase at home watching.  So of course it is a little upsetting when someone from the US, which is relatively new to the sport at this level, has an opinion about it, and that opinion is met with sentiments like "you just don't understand the sport" or  "how can the whole world be wrong?"

It's true most Americans (not all, soccer is rapidly growing in popularity in the US) have less an understanding or appreciation than the whole rest of the world.  But it's also true that most Americans were not born into it, so there are not things we take for granted, accept outright as natural or desirable about it.  For the author of this diary, it is the number of goals.  For me, it is ties.  I can't abide a tie.  I'd rather sit through a five hour game until someone scores than accept a tie.  Am I right, and the rule makers of soccer wrong?  No, I just have different expectations, a different approach to sport.  Do I think they should change the rules?  Hell yeah!  

Wanting to tweak things about a sport is not an insult to that sport.  Maybe nothing is ever changed in soccer, I don't know.  But we're commonly changing the way things are done in sports in America.  They do it in the Olympics too.  

Also, sometimes soccer is boring.  I'm pretty sure most people outside America find baseball intolerably boring.  I was raised with it, so the pace seems exactly the way it should be to me.  It's not meant to be an edge-of-your-seat adrenaline fest.  Sit back, relax, eat a hot dog, spend an afternoon in the sun... But I'm not mad at people who find it boring.  I realize they weren't indoctrinated with it.  

I've recently become a hockey junkie.  Despite whatever black PR Drew has spread, Chicagoans have happily, eagerly embraced their hockey team, not out of despair but sheer joy.  Initially because they were winning and we decided we should find out what's so hot about hockey.  Their winning is why people started watching, but the excitement of the game is why it became the phenom it has.  It also seems to transcend class, race and geography here, which no other sport does.  Anyway, my point is that now I expect to have a mild cardiac arrest at least 5 times during a sporting event.  Hence, the World Cup "feels" boring to me now.  To quote Gorby, "I wish there were a World Cup of hockey."

Still, I am happy the World Cup has gained such popularity in the States.  This year, first round matches are being aired on national -not cable, not satellite, but regular broadcast tv.  Two World Cups ago I had to watch on the Mexican station...  For the first time it feels like not just something exotic, sport for snobs, but part of our culture too.  At least in the big cities.

I suspect this will be one of many more little annoyances to come.  Right now the US audience is primarily cosmopolitan and people with a background in soccer.  As US participation grows in the sport, and your rules and such are thrust on the average American spectator, be prepared to hear more ignorant outspoken opinions about how to make your game better.  It's what we do.  It's why we believe in democracy: we believe in our opinions.  We're just trying to help.  :D

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 03:33:23 PM EST
poemless:
I'm pretty sure most people outside America find baseball intolerably boring.

I'm a cricket man.

I love baseball, because I can relate to the skills, the tactics, the atmosphere and its place in the US culture.

Oh...and the statistics.....

...entire summers are encapsulated in these pages.

Is there an annual Baseball Bible quite like cricket's 'Wisden', I wonder?

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 03:49:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think so, but there's The Baseball Encyclopedia! Amazon's review:

No single volume sings the epic saga of the game with quite the rhythms of The Baseball Encyclopedia. Now in its 10th edition, the granddaddy of all sports reference books is, at just over eight pounds and 3000 pages, the National Pastime's weightiest tome. As all-seeing as Homer and Milton, as all-knowing as Shakespeare and Yeats, the encyclopedia finds its poetry in the rhythms of baseball's numbers. Every player--regardless of significance--is present, with all the essential statistics of his career. There are, no doubt, some soulless creatures who may open the encyclopedia and just see page after page of dry, meaningless, numbing data; the rest of us know better: 755, 714, 61, 511, .406, 1.12, and 4,256 are all self-contained dramas filled with tension, and inspiring awe. It is in these stats, and thousands more, that the mysteries of the game begin to reveal themselves.

http://www.amazon.com/Baseball-Encyclopedia-Complete-Definitive-Record/dp/0028608151

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 03:57:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds pretty close......

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 04:12:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Almost everything apparently idiotic to others: cricket, marmite, pancakes and maple syrup, christianity, baseball, literature, and so forth, is bestowed upon us at an age when we have no choice. And strongly reinforced by our communities as we grow up. It's hard to be A Serious Man.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 04:08:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven Triloqvist:
It's hard to be A Serious Man.

There's always the Jefferson Airplane.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 04:41:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Go ask Alice, i think she'll know.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:10:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or maybe you are just born where maple syrup comes out of trees...

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 06:02:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think hockey is as exciting as sports get - in terms of the game itself. The WC is more exciting due to the drama of the world stage.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:11:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hockey? keerist, the girls in Roller Derby did it without padding.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:41:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They still do it without padding. Or with not very much.

The problem I have with hockey is that in most sports, excepting hockey and boxing, it is against the rules to fight. Fighting in a civilized sport gets you kicked out of the game, at least in theory.

by asdf on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:23:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Roller Derby, oh my yes. My very first spectator sport. Those ladies were something else.
by sgr2 on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 08:34:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Imagine how bad the annoyance would've been if I hadn't put that 'please' in the title.

And, I disagree, this diary will last forever.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:14:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and will spawn nested thread upon thread, until the last poster in the last universe finally draws the last breath.

PS. so great to see poemless chiming in.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:32:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As someone who thinks goalie is the most enjoyable position to play in, I just have to shake my head in disbelief at these clueless remarks.

Yes, clueless, don't take it as a personal insult but there's no word in the English language that better describes them.

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.

...

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.

... 80% of the WC teams do not have great defenses and goalies. Which ones do? We may never know.

I can assure you football fans have no trouble telling an outstanding defence of goalie when they see one. For instance, I can tell you from the 25 minutes I saw of the England-USA match that the USA's Tim Howard is a good goalie. If you can't, and moreover if you think all you need to do is look at the scorecard for one game to tell if the defence or goalie were good or bad, you really need to watch a lot of football before you 'get it'.

Over the course of an entire tournament, however, averages do show the best goalies and defences (and offences). And there are awards for the goalie that concedes the least goals over a year-long tournament, or who has the highest number of games with no goals against, and so on. The equivalent of the .400 baseball batter is the goalie that keeps his score sheet clean for over a thousand minutes of play.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 05:42:13 PM EST
Brazil's first goal tonight was an amazing shot from almost a zero angle. Some thought the No Korean goalie was too wide out, protecting against the expected flanker.  One of the world's best goalies, (former, now tv commenter Oliver Kahn) opined that in a fraction of a second, great players can decide to shoot a flank or a goal. He said that the goal was evidence of Maicon's expertise.

Recognizing that great athletes are conditioned to move correctly before they think, i tend to agree.

Had the goal been wider, it still would have counted.

But if the goal was just as wide, but moveable by a joystick controlled by each coach, for example, the goal might not have counted. Or if the goalie had called "time-out" it wouldn't have counted. or perhaps if it had snowed.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 06:21:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oliver Kahn) opined that in a fraction of a second, great players can decide to shoot a flank or a goal.

In the replay, it could be seen that Maicon looked up before shooting, as if checking whom to give the flank. The commentator on Hungarian TV (who noticed and pointed out this in the replays) interpreted it not as prelude to a split-second decision, but a fooling of the goalie. Either way, it was masterful.

But so was the out-of-the-blue North Korean equalizer.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 06:30:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
fooling of the goalie

wow, either way it's 0.3 seconds maximal. just like hitting a baseball. damn, i wish i weren't so old and thick.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 06:41:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If it was fooling the goalie, then it was pre-planned, so no timewarp -- but, still insanely perfect timing and execution.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 06:58:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey CH, you're not old and thick. Just go ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall.
by sgr2 on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 08:43:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The ITV commentary team discussing that were fairly certain he was attempting to pass the ball across the face of the goal hoping one of his team-mates would knock it in.  Their argument was that if it was anyone other than a Brazilian player we would not even be beginning to have this discussion, the fact that it was a Brazilian gives a small chance it was something other than an extreme piece of luck.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 07:59:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
following remark was said in jest:

For example, make the goalies wear army boots and/or dark sunglasses.

And this, what does it indicate to you:

Of course, this is a strictly know-nothing American "I want my entertainment" suggestion, and mebbe there are more 'elegant' modifications available.

Generally, this is your most off-the-wall comment. For example, I have stated above, directly to you, that I think Tim Howard is a good goalie, or seems to be based on his play against England, but you indicate that you think I said differently. The point is that we don't know whether he is a great goalie, simply because he wasn't tested enough for us to know. It's sort of like asking Michael Jordan to play 6 on 4, he scores a huge number of points and we say, well, he's at least a good player, but let's see how he plays 5 on 5 before we slap the label 'great' on him.

Great sporting events have great testing of athletes.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 07:02:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
did you even watch the game? howard stopped a ton of shots, and played most of the game after being booted straight in the chest. of england and the US had traded goalies, it would have been 10-0 england. howard is why we tied, no doubt in my mind.
by wu ming on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 02:24:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not counting the balls hit directly at him, not so many. Yes, he played well, but a 7.5 ratings is not a 'greatness' rating, which would be a 9.

Tim Howard - 7.5  - Little chance when Gerrard was sent clean through on him early on. Took a hefty boot from Heskey but refused to buckle, and stared down the Aston Villa man when he was in on goal in the second half. Can return to the Everton dressing room next season with pride intact.

Goal felt the best U.S. player was Onyewu.

Oguchi Onyewu - 8 - Along with central defensive partner DeMerit, he refused to be intimidated by reputations and dealt with everything solidly. Perfect example of his night was how he tracked back to deny Lampard a clear shot on goal with the clock ticking down. Nobody contributed more to the USA cause.

http://www.goal.com/en/news/1863/world-cup-2010/2010/06/12/1973346/world-cup-2010-player-ratings-eng land-1-1-usa

4 players on Germany's team got 8 ratings or higher.

http://www.goal.com/en/news/1863/world-cup-2010/2010/06/13/1973410/world-cup-2010-player-ratings-ger many-4-0-australia

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 10:46:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well one thing that Ive seen in passing is that the  World cup ball has been the Official ball of the Bundesliga since the beginning of the year, only in different colours, this could explain the  higher ratings of the German team. (This could also be the result of UK tabloid paranoia.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 11:23:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No it's real:

Curse of the Jabulani: Adidas says it warned teams about ball

Adidas says that countries such as England who had complained about the ball being used in the World Cup finals only had themselves to blame for not practising enough with it.

... Schaikvan said the Jabulani ball was supplied to all countries in February and had been used extensively in Germany's Bundesliga as well as by France and Argentina - who are sponsored by Adidas - and other leagues such as Austria, Switzerland, Portugal and United States.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 01:43:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
fairleft:
Generally, this is your most off-the-wall comment.
It hasn´t crossed your mind that you're the one who's mostly off-the-wall here. You keep demonstrating that you have no appreciation for the game, and refusing to accept thoughtful input for actual fans.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 03:33:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Please consider avoiding ad hominem remarks and instead reading and responding to my criticisms. If you want to improve your (poor, incoherent) argumentation skills, which is likely an actually good reason for being here.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 10:24:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have read and responded to your criticisms. So have others. I'm out of this thread now as you display ignorant boldness and cannot be educated.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 10:29:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, you haven't. Ignorance is bliss though, so good for you.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 10:48:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of the goalies who perform week-in week out in the premiership, the only one I would class as consistently better unfortunately isn't here down to some French hand trickery.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 05:17:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and is uniformly unhappy about it (which was the basic point of this diary). I imagine most eurotrib soccer fans feel similar, though looking at the comments here may give a different impression.

Didier Drogba-Ronaldo Play 0-0 Draw: Will This Be Worst World Cup Ever?
By Colm Larkin Contributor
June 15, 2010

Group G opened with a disappointing scoreless draw between highly regarded teams Ivory Coast and Portugal.

The game features two of the world's top strikers, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba, but failed to produce a goal and both teams only managed three shots on target.

But the match merely continued a trend for low-scoring games at this World Cup.

Are we looking at the lowest-scoring World Cup ever?

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/406544-after-drogba-ronaldo-0-0-draw-will-this-be-the-worst-world -cup-ever

World Cup Roundup Day 4: Kuyt The Lout
By Zac Lee Rigg
Jun 15, 2010 2:09:00 AM

Even four days in, each team is still playing its first game, leading to a continued feeling-out period. The lack of goals and hesitant performances are giving the World Cup a limp feel overall.

No team has won when the opposition has scored. Plus, day four featured two tap-ins, two set piece goals, and one own goal. Not exactly scintillating stuff.

http://www.goal.com/en-us/news/67/world-cup/2010/06/15/1977116/world-cup-roundup-day-4-kuyt-the-lout

MORE GOALS PLEASE

Though the World Cup is still in its early days, fans and pundits are starting to fret about the lack of goals, and there have been few games or moments to really get the pulse racing.

After 14 matches the net has bulged just 23 times, an average of 1.63 per game -- below the 2.30 average for the whole of Germany 2006 and higher figures in previous years.

http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/15062010/2/wrapup-5-brazil-made-sweat-winning-start.html

Vuvuzuelas are South Africa's best entertainment in goal-shy World Cup
The infamous horns are the sound of the World Cup and with the lack of quality football on show they have been the most talked about aspect of the tournament so far.
By David Bronstein
15 June 2010

At last years Confederations Cup in South Africa a large swarm of bees entered the stadium as Spain were playing the USA.

I was half expecting that the match would be abandoned, and with such unpredictable occurances with the force of nature that is Africa, that maybe even the FIFA World Cup would have to be reconsidered.

Alas there were no bees to be found. So I wondered what is that noise. Thankfully the televison cameras were also curious enough to pan the crowd and what we found was many thousands blowing what looked like a cheap plastic horn - it was called the 'vuvuzela'.
My lasting impression of the vuvuzela is that it is the sound we hear when we watch football matches in Africa.

To my delight when this years World Cup kicked off last Friday, the Vuvuzela could be heard in full force once again. There have been many critics of the humming sound, although I find this to be the same crop of fan born into watching football that must remain the same wherever it is played.

The best example of this would be that we did not hear the vuvuzela in Germany in 2006. Vuvuzelas may not be a fixture on the terraces of western Europe, but people, we are now in Africa. Instead of pushing the culture away, the best thing to do is to embrace it.
These very people that are complaining of the noise, are the same that would be angered at the dancing Mexican fans running through the aisles in 1986, or the masses of paper and ticker tape sprinkled from the stands in Argentina in 1978.

Years from now the South Africa World Cup will be remembered for the vuvuzelas. Let the fans have their moment of joy. And if it really is that annoying, well you do have the mute button. After all listening to Mark Lawrenson's constantly cheap digs at 'third world' referees would drive anyone up the wall.
As to the World Cup itself, with 11 matches completed over five days, it has been a poor one.

The quality of football or lack of has been astounding. Free-kicks and shots from outside the area all seem to be heading in one direction: the Sahara.
What has surprised me has been that, apart from Germany, in general teams have been unable to keep possession. Most worrying is that we are not seeing many goals.

Is it the ball? The new ball - lets not get into the debate as to whether we needed on - is flying all over the place when launched into the air.

It was supposed to trouble the goalkeeper, but in most cases is helping them. How many times have you seen a goalbound target suddenly swerve out to the stands?

I have noticed that the lesser teams have been defending better, and more importantly closing down.

So instead of a Lionel Messi inspired Argentina ripping through Nigeria 4-0, we get 1-0. Teams at South Africa have been ultra-cautious, and this has led to a frankly boring World Cup. Still we should not despair too much, there is still over fifty games to put this right.

If not we could seriously be looking at the worst goals to games ratio in the competition's history, which would then trigger another Sepp Blatter crazy idea.

http://www.sportingo.com/football/a13558_vuvuzuelas-south-africas-best-entertainment-goalshy-world-c up

15 Jun 2010 | 17:10
SA2010 fans not yet rejoicing
With the World Cup in South Africa so far failing to match expectations, can the Jabulani ball really be to blame?

As of Monday night there had been 18 goals scored in the tournament, with nine of the 22 teams competing failing to find the target at least once.

At the same stage of the last World Cup in Germany there had already been 27 goals, four years before that, in Korea-Japan, fans were treated to 31 goals after 11 games.

With an average of 1.64 goals a game so far, South Africa 2010 is well on course to beat the fewest-ever goals-per-match record at a World Cup, a dubious honour currently bestowed upon the 1990 Italy World Cup, which averaged 2.21 goals.

Alarmingly, if this trend were to continue, we would end up with 66 fewer goals than we had at France 1998.

http://www.worldcup.cbssports.com/page/NewsDetail/0,,13041~2071487,00.html

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 07:25:05 PM EST
CBS and Bleacher Report, amongst others? Yes, authorities.

You've done it, you've documented your thesis (though you didn't document the sites which say all is OK.)

Well, in two days we'll be through the first week of the month long Cup, so one supposes a judgement on the games is long overdue.

(Did you wish to discuss it's the first ever World Cup played in winter, or did your statistics not take that into account?  Did you notice Brazil is the first team ever, that we know, to play with gloves? Did you take the high altitude into account in your statistical analysis? Or did you really wish to think that the world is grateful for your theory?)

Do we care what the mainstream media says about the Great Grausam Greichenland Krise?

and your point is?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 07:59:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The soccer watching and reporting world has reached Step 1: it recognizes an average of 1.6 goals per match is a problem. Eurotrib seems unable to get to that Step 1.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 15th, 2010 at 09:56:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do any of those articles demand big rule changes? We have

  • An American sports site documents the goal statistics with comparison with the previous worst in 1990, analyses initial loss-avoidance as reason:
    Most teams have approached their opening game with the intention of avoiding defeat rather than winning.

    This has led to teams being unwilling to attack and instead focusing on stopping the opposition from playing.

    Compares to club football, suggesting that the problem they see is WC-specific rather than a structural fault in football:
    But much of the action so far has been desperately poor and a far cry from the standard most fans are used to seeing during the regular club season.
    They absolve the ball, claiming Germany and Argentina had no problems with it [methinks Argentina did; also see after-next point]. Then they call for reserving judgement:
    With the world's top two teams, Brazil and Spain, yet to play, we should probably reserve judgment on the standard of the 2010 World Cup.

    Indeed, history tends to judge the success of a finals by the quality of the knock-out stages, rather than the group games.

    ...and closes with optimism:
    And perhaps the second round will see the rest of the teams throw off the defensive shackles and start to entertain.

  • An American sports writer on the American edition of an international sports website mentions both lack of goals and "hesitant performances", indicates that some top players give more importance to club football or even their vacation than the World Cup, and mentions the video-refereeing dispute later on.

  • A Europsort article that mentions both goal draught and overall borigness of matches, and finishes by blaming the new ball and vuvuzelas:

    Dispute has not been restricted to labour issues, however, and controversy is growing among players and coaches over the World Cup's new ball, called the Jabulani.

    Crosses, free-kicks and long-range shots have been skying over their targets in the thin air.

    Another issue is the incessant whine of the vuvuzelas with teams and coaches sometimes reduced to sign language.

  • One English fan-journalist who defends vuvuzelas, blames over-cautious small teams, hopes for betterment later on, and warns against FIFA boss Blatter inventing a rule change:
    I have noticed that the lesser teams have been defending better, and more importantly closing down.

    So instead of a Lionel Messi inspired Argentina ripping through Nigeria 4-0, we get 1-0. Teams at South Africa have been ultra-cautious, and this has led to a frankly boring World Cup. Still we should not despair too much, there is still over fifty games to put this right.

    If not we could seriously be looking at the worst goals to games ratio in the competition's history, which would then trigger another Sepp Blatter crazy idea.

  • An American corporate news site covers the debate over the effect of the new sponsored ball, also mentions that it may be more problematic for attackers than defenders, but ends up being a mouthpiece for the ball manufacturer -- and closes with hope that Brazil & Spain will right the goal average.

Not all of your articles credit lack of goals exclusively for their dissatisfaction, and most importantly, there is no demand for rule changes there. Even the American sports writers focus criticism along the lines I outlined here.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 05:35:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One personal observation I can add is the total lack of long goals, in particular free kick goals, and that not for lack of trying by the teams. For this, the responsiblity is solely on the ball, IMO: it doesn't fly where intended.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 07:51:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That could be down to a light ball at altitude

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 10:51:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the diary, I wrote that the first step is to recognize the problem. A lack of goals, in fact a 30% decrease from the last World Cup, i.e., 1.6 goals per game.

You haven't gotten there. I have no idea why, since the entire rest of the football watching/writing/commentating world seems to have. Except here.

I think I've asked this before, and it is the diary's topic btw, but is 1.6 goals scored per game a problem for you? If so, what do you propose be done about it?

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 10:28:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You haven't gotten there. I have no idea why, since the entire rest of the football watching/writing/commentating world seems to have. Except here.

Again:

He just posted a series of clips from articles that would seem to suggest otherwise.  Further, beyond your diary, I've yet to come across people suggesting the kinds of rule changes you propose.

You're equating what you see as a problem with it being objectively a problem and trying to rationalize changing the rules.

It's fine that you think a lack of goals is a problem, but that doesn't make it true.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 11:42:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He's actually just quoting from the clips I had just posted. Not one of them says the low scores are not a problem. Is there a soccer expert anywhere who is celebrating the low scores? No, well except you.

About my alleged 'proposal', from the diary (emphasis added):

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.

Now, does the above look as if I am proposing a specific solution or that I'm extremely humble and open-minded about the problem? (Just curious, did you take the following seriously, like Migeru apparently did: "For example, make the goalies wear army boots and/or dark sunglasses.")

Then there's the next paragraph in the diary:

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.

You don't believe there is a problem, fine. But why comment, then, other than to say, "I disagree, I don't think there is a problem."

And don't fuss about my 'proposals', take them in the light-hearted spirit they were provided; I was hoping with that spirit to inspire creative expert minds to apply themselves to the 'problem'. Emperor Blatter will very likely apply himself to it, so perhaps the expert football lovers here should get suggestions in before he does.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 02:21:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wrote that the first step is to recognize the problem.

What you speak of is not a problem but a symptom.

You haven't gotten there.

I got past you, and I analysed the problems behind the low goal score in three responses to you in this thread already, including the one you replied to above. This is hilarious. And not the first time you keep denying reality like this -- there was your row on immigration, on supposedly businessmen-only high-speed trains...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 01:50:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, South Africa's high-speed train system is a white elephant almost on a par with their expensive new stadiums. Terrible allocation of resources for most South Africans, especially the poorer ones. And restricting immigration when you're experiencing 9.5% unemployment is unassailable common sense, which is why the only 'argument' against it is to play the race card.

The low scores are a problem and also a symptom, like many symptoms. But unfortunately, again, we're at square one: you deny the low scores are a problem, so you'll refuse to suggest what should be done about it. But if I misunderstand and you do feel the low scores are a problem, I'd love to hear your ideas on how to increase scoring at the World Cup.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 02:30:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
South Africa has no high-speed train system, but keep digging.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 06:26:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Africa's first high-speed train 'Gautrain'
8 May 2010

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Pictures/Videos/Pictures-/Africas-first-high-speed-train/article showpics/5906715.cms

GAUTRAIN - PREPARE TO PAY FOR IT

Johannesburg property company Bradford McCormack estimates the cost of the proposed new road tolls to a motorist driving by freeway from Johannesburg to the Pretoria CBD at R1,020 a month. Two years ago the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) estimated that use of the new R21bn Gauteng freeway system would cost in the region of 50c per km. Taking inflation into account, by the time tolling starts in April 2011, that "base rate" has moved up to 65c-68c per km according to SANRAL manager for tolling and traffic Alec van Niekerk. If the cost is only 65c a km, that Johannesburg-Pretoria trip is going to cost R1,300 a month.

This is the price we are going to pay for Gautrain, because unless punitive tariffs like these come into effect, it is highly doubtful that the planners' ambitious expectations for train patronage will come to pass.

http://www.railwaysafrica.com/2010/05/gautrain-%E2%80%93-prepare-to-pay-for-it/

All in the Name of the Beautiful Gain: On the World Cup in South Africa

South Africa desperately needs large-scale public infrastructure, especially in the area of public transport which is in some cities, including Johannesburg, is almost entirely absent. The Gautrain, which was launched on Tuesday the 8th June (just in time for the big event) is probably the biggest irony here: in a country where the large majority rely on unsafe private mini-bus taxis to travel long distances on a daily basis, the Gautrain offers high speed, luxury transport for tourists and those travelling between Johannesburg and Pretoria... who can afford it if a single trip between the airport and Sandton will set you back a massive R100.

http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20100612083446220

Glitz, Glamour and the Gautrain: Mega-Projects as Political Symbols

(Only the abstract is free) Gautrain, South Africa's first high-speed metropolitan transport network, is being developed at a cost of nearly R25 billion. It is being primarily justified on the basis of its close association with South Africa's hosting of the 2010 World Cup. However, the sheer scale of the costs involved, set against the larger and more pressing national transport shortages, invariably prompts questions about the rationale behind the construction of the Gautrain. Focusing on rational, cost-benefit considerations, and special interest groups on the one hand, and political symbolism on the other, the article concludes that political symbolism appears to be a major explanation for the construction of the Gautrain.

http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a792243496~jumptype=ref_internal~fromvnxs=v6 7n3s7~fromtitle=713405746~cons=

Red Cards for Fifa, Coke and South African Elites

New luxury transport infrastructure, for example, gambles on shifting rich people's behaviour away from private cars. But the $3 billion Gautrain rapid rail costs riders five times more than previously advertised and probably won't dislodge Johannesburg-Pretoria commuters, thanks to traffic jams and parking shortages at the new stations.

As labour leader Zwelinzima Vavi, put it, Gautrain "does nothing for those who really suffer from transport problems - above all, commuters from places like Soweto and Diepsloot. Instead, it takes away resources that could improve the lives of millions of commuters."

http://www.counterpunch.com/bond06142010.html

SA'S PASSENGER RAIL TIME-BOMB

South Africa is sitting on a passenger rail time-bomb, write Clayton Barnes and Noelene Barbeau in the Daily News (published in Durban): "A third of the country's trains will be out of service by 2013. And if the government fails to secure new rolling stock by the end of the year, Metrorail's already stretched service will be under further pressure, resulting in more overcrowding on trains and longer delays. More than 280,000 passengers in KwaZulu-Natal make use of Metrorail's trains daily.

"The country's urban railway system will have totally collapsed within 10 years without the necessary recapitalisation. . . .

"He admitted that the country's commuter rail system was headed for disaster if the government did not buy new trains soon. `It doesn't make sense to keep refurbishing. It costs nearly as much as buying a new coach,' said Montana. "The current coaches are not built for the modern economy, and the levels of reliability are too low."

"But the Transport Department says it simply does not have the budget. Transport minister S'bu Ndebele acknowledged the need for more passenger trains, but said that there were other areas, such as roads, which also required huge investment.

http://www.railwaysafrica.com/2010/05/sas-passenger-rail-time-bomb/

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 11:05:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL, you indeed kept digging, without even suspecting a trap.

Though its speeds are higher than other trains in South Africa, Gautrain is not a high-speed train, not by any international standards, whatever an India Times journalist writes. (And it is especially no high-speed train system, with a single line...) It is a limited-stop suburban service, 80 km long with ten stations, and a standard top speed of 160 km/h; only with separate grade from all-stoppers, in that it is analogous to say metro and RER in Paris. Indeed Gautrain uses trains derived from Bombardier's Electrostar, a family of regional EMUs for Britain.

Now, Gautrain could be discussed as an example of bad mismanagement (delays and cost explosion); and one could thematise the class aspect (the new ANC elite is sadly no better on this than whites) in the fact that ticket prices and the routing indicates that it was indended for the upper classes and tourists (though there is at least ticket integration with normal suburban trains). But, don't fall from your role, you are supposed to be anti-long-distance-rail, not anti-passenger-rail like US Republicans.

Keep digging.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 03:06:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's commonly described as a high-speed train system.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 11:29:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you want to play semantics instead of considering top speed and stopping distances... it is commonly described as rapid rail.

About Gautrain | The Gautrain Rapid Rail link described

The Gautrain  is a state-of-the-art rapid rail network in Gauteng.

Keep digging.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 06:07:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good faith means not attempting to 'trap' each other. And so, I rated your comment a '1'.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Jun 24th, 2010 at 08:56:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way...

the cost of the proposed new road tolls to a motorist driving by freeway from Johannesburg to the Pretoria CBD at R1,020 a month

What's your problem with making driving more expensive?...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 06:09:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because it's heavily regressive taxation in a country with apparently the worst income distribution in the developed world. If they could fix that problem, I wouldn't have a problem with it. Of course, this is basically just my diary says very close to your blockquote, so I'm only repeating myself for someone who has decided to selectively read.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 01:34:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Regressive taxation? What are you talking about?

  • Which income segment do you think owns cars in South Africa, with its extremead income distribution?
  • Which income segment do you think drives frequently on the Jo'burg-Pretoria highway?
  • What do you think is relationship between income distribution and weight/size of cars?


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 02:28:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't have a problem with it."

*Which income segment do you think owns cars in South Africa, with its extremead income distribution?

Every income class, but predominantly the middle class, upper middle class, and the wealthy. What impact would the skyrocketed rates have on the mini-buses?

*Which income segment do you think drives frequently on the Jo'burg-Pretoria highway?

Every income class, but predominantly the middle class, upper middle class, and the wealthy.

*What do you think is relationship between income distribution and weight/size of cars?

You're implying that heavier cars would pay more to drive the highway. That's an interesting and creative idea . . . and reminds me: "If they could fix that problem, I wouldn't have a problem with it."

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 05:28:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
28 min Can we just call this World Cup off? Defending has become far too easy. I got pelters for this when I wrote it on ma blog in 2006, but I reckon football needs bigger pitches. As that's impossible, it should experiment at a lower level (the Premier League, say), with the next best thing: 10-a-side.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jun/16/world-cup-2010-spain-switzerland-live

Sacrilege by the British commentator, but this is similar to the spirit of my suggestions. It's a sport, have some fun like everyone else whining about the horribly low scores.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 02:34:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
World Cup 2010: Somali football fans executed for watching matches - Telegraph

The deaths happened on Saturday near the capital Mogadishu when members of the Hizbul Islam group stormed a house where people were watching Nigeria play Argentina.

A further 10 people were arrested by the group, which has imposed a strict version of Islam in the areas they control in southern and central Somalia.The following night, another 30 people including a 15-year-old boy were arrested as the watched the Germany-Australia game in two private homes in the town of Afgoye.

A spokesman for the group, Sheikh Mohamed Abdi Aros, said the rest of Somalia should respect their ban on the World Cup - the first to be hosted in Africa - and focus instead on "pursuing holy jihad".

"We are warning all the youth of Somalia not to dare watch these World Cup matches. It is a waste of money and time and they will not benefit anything or get any experience by watching mad men jumping up and down," he said.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 05:28:19 PM EST
Man, if they think soccer is mad, what happens when they see rugby or American football?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 06:28:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right
With all 32 sides now having played at least one match, we're due an overview of the World Cup circuit. The results you see below are based on slightly more than 10,000 simulations using the SPI (Soccer Power Index) Match Predictor given the results of the tournament to date.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 10:27:02 AM EST
South Korea up, way up, to #16. Finally, better late than never. Australia still ahead of Japan, #44 to #46; Australia probably shouldn't be that high. And it's very possible Japan deserves an even lower ranking; the Netherlands match could be a nightmare.

And Argentina has gotta move up past Spain to #1 or 2.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 01:26:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So far the group stage second matches goal per match average is 3.25. It seems that we have one of those World Cups when the first group matches are cautious and then points-scoring panic strikes. Like in 1962 and 1974 (incidentally two of the three years with the previous low record of 2 goals/match in the group stage first matches, the third was 1986).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 06:22:57 PM EST
Not quite good enough for me (but getting there). Case in point: the (unofficially scored) 3-2 match between the U.S. and Slovenia was a great one. I could handle a 4.5 or 5 goals per match average (is that asking for too much?); all we needed to get that for U.S./Slovenia would've been a video replay challenge on the penalty or offsides call that made the real final score 2-2.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 01:30:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But, as for rule changes, do you still wanna move goalposts?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 02:29:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Read this carefully, noting its light-hearted and "I'm not an expert" qualities:

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.


fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 05:17:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it strangely fitting that the damage done to Frances World cup campaign has been done by the Team in Green. (unless you want to argue it was done by the team in Blue)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 06:57:45 PM EST
What is it with obsession about numbers of goals.

Number of goals is like size of penis.

Bigger/more does not mean better.

A game 10:0 can be extremely boring and a game 0:0 very exciting.

The final score is only relevant to who wins the game, and does not say anything about either teams or the games quality.

Individual goals are what is talked about. The fifth goal in the 4:2 England win over Germany in 1966 is far more relevant than any of the other goals in that game, but it was a great game because of how the two teams play and the game developed. Had it been 4:0 and then Germany scored 2 goals, England's third goal would have been long forgotten. But because of how the game progressed it became seminal and is discussed to the day. It broke Germany and they did not come back. And then they thought it was all over...

So if there were to be rule changes, they should think about increasing tension and excitement in the game, not how to get more goals. Goals are a byproduct of a great game.

Afterall football is also described as "The Beautiful Game". It is not all about scoring. It is the passing, the movement, the vision, the ability, the suffering and luck. (And Russian linesmen)

by PeWi on Sun Jun 20th, 2010 at 12:59:43 PM EST
Based on everything I've read in British newspapers the last week or two, yours is very much the minority position.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Jun 24th, 2010 at 09:00:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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