(This is a solo column by Joe, the senior citizen writer for the Gab Four. Visit their official Web site and read more about Joe and the other members of the Gab Four at www.MyBriefs.com.)
For those who have been glued to your television set watching World Cup soccer the last week or so, you must have been glued there to keep from getting up to do something more exciting – like watching ants walk endlessly across the cracks of a sidewalk, or watching your cat sleep for four or five hours at a time. Because soccer is certainly one of the most boring, frustrating, disappointing, time-consuming games ever devised by humans. After all, where else can you have all that running, passing, shooting, and falling down for 90 minutes and still have a 0 to 0 tie? That doesn’t just make it boring, it makes it somnambulistic!
So, despite the fact that the game is said to be older than the invention of the club (in fact, some scholars say that the club was actually invented because of soccer – so that spectators could beat themselves over the head with it after watching the game for 90 minutes), I’m going to offer some changes that I think would definitely improve the game. See if you agree.
1) Make the goal bigger. Soccer goals are 8′ tall and 24′ wide. Let’s make them 10′ tall and 40′ wide. This will give shooters a better chance of scoring and make goal keepers run more like the rest of the players.
2) Allow more players per team. There are currently only 11 players allowed per team – 10 field players and a goal keeper. But that leaves too much of the field open. Let’s increase the number of players per team to 20 and allow players to form blocking wedges to open the way for the player with the ball.
3) Allow players to use their hands more. Let them catch and throw the ball down the field with their hands and even run with it to break through defensive players. We’ll still require them to kick it to make a goal to keep some tradition in the game, but drop kicks would be permitted.
4) Put players who commit a foul in a penalty box. If a player commits a foul for tripping, high kicking, or elbowing another player, put them in a penalty box for five or 10 minutes to teach them a lesson. Then, we could have power plays that would really be exciting!
5) Give out more cards for undesirable behavior. Instead of only a yellow card and a red card, let the referees issue other cards for bad behavior – black cards for swearing, purple cards for excessive spitting or vomiting, gray cards for faking an injury, blue cards for stalling or taking too long to shoot or pass, and striped cards for kicks to the groin. Let’s improve the sportsmanship of this game as we also improve the scoring opportunities.
6) Allow the use of vuvuzelas on the field. Vuvuzelas are those annoying, one-note plastic horns that fans blow continuously during play. Why not allow them to be used on the field as well? They could be used to deaden the hearing of opposing players or startle them when they’re about to shoot. They could provide audible charge and retreat signals for the team to better organize attacks and defense. They could even be used to deliver quick hits on the shoulders, arms, or legs of players while they’re running with the ball to distract them. Although, we would limit the number of vuvuzela-carrying players to four per team.
7) Do not allow ties. Make the teams keep playing until one team finally gives up or scores a goal. If exhaustion and penalties don’t provide a winner, then bring in players on horses with polo mallets after four hours. The losing team could be made to clean up after the horses, to make the indignity of losing more compelling.
I think these minor changes would make the game of soccer much more interesting and would certainly open up some scoring opportunities. Come to think of it, maybe we would have to make some changes defensively to even things up a little. What if, for instance, the goal keepers were given crossbows but were only allowed to shoot at the ball? Or what if there were obstacles on the field like shallow pits, bunkers, or quicksand? Or, what if you had to drink a beer every time you missed a shot on goal or kicked the ball out of bounds?
Maybe US teams would do better under these circumstances.