Soccer is the only sport I know in which playoff teams may survive and advance without actually winning. It is the only sport, with the occasional exception of hockey, that comes to mind in which the absence of scoring is closer to the norm than the aberration. It is the only sport going in which ties in regulation time games are decided by a face-off kick between a powerful offensive player and the other team’s goalie. If this were baseball, it would be a method equivalent to eliminating extra innings and settling the win by allowing each team to put up their best power hitters and giving each the chance to see who could hit the most homers off home-cooking pitchers from their own teams – with the one who gets the most winning the game for their team.
What a waste of time. We don’t even know how long the regulation time their games are, but we don’t care. However long they are, it’s too long for some of us who didn’t grow up with the sport as a serious occupation of time. Watching people running up and down the field in shorts, trying to control a bouncing ball with their feet, bodies, and heads, without losing it to balance or counter-kicking by the opposition – and then, if they make it this far, kicking it past a foe who covers almost the whole goal cage you are trying to reach is – altogether frustrating, irritating, improbable, redundantly stupid, and boring.
As kids in Post WWII Houston, we did not play organized soccer. No doubt here that many of us might feel differently about soccer in greater numbers, had we done so, but I don’t think I would be among them. Even football could not budge me from loving baseball above all others back then – or even now. And football was a mighty tough and engaging game too. Unlike soccer.
We didn’t even call it “soccer” back then. We called it “kick-ball” – and it was only a game played sometimes at a fifteen minute school recess time-killer after lunch.
If you like soccer, the Dynamo, the World Games, or whatever it is they play for as the big deal in their sport, go for it. You don’t need baseball people like me at your victory celebrations. Nor do people like me and many others need to be there.
What triggered this little rant column was an item that appeared yesterday in the Saturday, July 23, 2016 Houston Chronicle Sports Section, Page C6. The sentence that triggered how differently “soccer” views offense from baseball, football, or basketball is classic. It’s not a coach quote, but a deduction derived by Chronicle reporter Corey Roepken on the post-game coach impressions of the attempt by the Dynamo in the game against the Dallas Club. After describing a new alignment of players that new coach Wade Barrett had installed to generate more offense in the Dynamo, the club still lost, 1-0, to FC Dallas. In reaction to the loss, Coach Barrett reportedly noted that, although the Dynamo did not score in the 1-0 loss, they showed more willingness to do so.