No Succor for Soccer Here




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.



Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas


7 Responses to “No Succor for Soccer Here”

  1. Larry Dierker Says:

    Any sport that eliminates the use of the most athletic part of the human body is inherently flawed. That said, I have enjoyed live soccer immensely. It just doesn’t work on TV, much like ice hockey, unless you are an expert observer or have a rooting interest;

  2. shinerbock80 Says:

    Larry is exactly right. A soccer pitch is much too big to cover on TV with a perspective of how the ball is moving or the speed of play, but it is terrific in person. We went to the Dynamo game last night. If you have not seen it in person, then you have not seen the game. Having said that, the Dynamo are a pretty bad team right now. They repeatedly failed to have guys in the right position, and their kicks on goal were either timid or (mostly) erratically wild.

    As for kickball: We played that in school, too. It is not at all like soccer. It was baseball with a utility ball that was kicked. Two completely different games. There was a craze a few years ago for adult kickball leagues as a co-ed social event for 20 and 30 year old folks.

    Finally, to clarify, the penalty kicks are against the opposing goalie, not home-cooking.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Mike –

      (1) I was unaware of a kick-ball rules standard. When we played it at St. Christopher’s, we played it like soccer – with two makeshift goals at either end.

      (2) Yes, I am aware that penalty kicks in soccer are against the opposing goalie. I was simply suggesting that a similar format for nine inning ties in baseball might choose to use “homie” pitchers to shift the emphasis from pitching to hitting homers in great numbers for its entertainment value.

      (3) I think I already admitted it implicitly, but allow me to be clear. I neither know nor care to know more about soccer to appreciate soccer on a nuanced level.

      (4) I have watched soccer live, but that was the result of a social decision made by the group I fell in with on a particular evening. I liked it better on TV. On TV, I have access to a remote control.

      (5) It’s beyond improbable that I will ever be stirred by a coach who finds encouragement in the post-game fact that his team seemed more willing to score in a contest they just lost by 1-0 because of a new player alignment he had just installed.

      (6) My pursuit of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” simply does not include soccer. And I equally respect the rights of you and all others to become avid, knowledgeable soccer fanatics, if you and others so choose to do so.

      Regards, Bill 🙂

  3. Sam Quintero Says:

    Soccer is an art! Wayne Gretzky said it best: “Good hockey players play where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be!”

    The same can be said of soccer, this is why it more exciting to be at the soccer stadium! Hockey, for me, is in the same arena of consideration as soccer!

    The same is true for baseball!

  4. gregclucas Says:

    As a noted comedian once said, (sadly I don’t remember who–maybe George Carlin) hockey looks like a series of mistakes with the puck always being knocked away from the guy who has it and plays unfinished. Soccer is the same game on grass. Having said that I actually liked professional indoor soccer. Lots more scoring and action. But the purists who grew up with the sport really killed the idea of catching on. I would probably have a better chance of enjoying the outdoor game if they would eliminate the antiquated concept of keeping the time of the game. (They love the concept that the clock never stops…then wind up having a bunch of extra time to tack on the end, because it SHOULD have stopped!)

    While admitted being able to “head” the ball takes skill I could do without that aspect as well. Not only is it dangerous (and not allowed in many youth leagues) but it could easily be replaced by allowing players to use their hands to “bat” any ball above shoulder height. But there is about as much chance of the latter rule ever coming about as Houston to have a week of 70 degree days in July.

    Bottom line: Soccer Futbol is a fine sport for some. Its very basic nature makes it easy for the less well off to organize and play as kids. It has been around the world forever although only organized world wide since about the same time baseball was becoming professional in the U.S. American football will always have a tough time competing with soccer in Europe, the Far East or South America. To each his own.

  5. Bill Gilbert Says:

    I agree with your position on soccer. It’s hard to stay interested in a game where a 1-0 lead is essentially insurmountable. I heard someone say on the radio or TV several weeks ago that cock fighting was illegal in all 50 states but it was still believed to be more popular than soccer.

  6. Doug S. Says:

    I seldom ever pay attention to soccer (even though I have a son who is a HS Varsity Head Coach) but having seen enough to comment — I wonder why they don’t eliminate offside as it seems that would increase scoring and thus make the game more exciting.

    I also agree that the indoor soccer was watchable as they was more scoring. On the other hand I can see where a true soccer fan would look at it in the same light as a Football fan looks at Arena Football.

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