The Problem with Soccer

Posted Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 at 08:45 AM


The Problem with Soccer
A fine example of dive-based reffing

I’m going to say up front that I’m not a soccer fan. I’m also going to say right up front that I’m not going spend the next few paragraphs ripping on the game of soccer. This outsider only has one complaint.

This was the first year that I even paid 1 minute of attention to the World Cup, caught a couple games streaming, and even saw the last half of the World Cup championship itself. For me, what made it hard to watch was the rampant diving! It seemed like half the time that any two players came within touching distance, one or both of them would end up rolling on the ground clutching a limb and and/or screaming at the ref for a call.

Sure, every sport has their diving and notorious divers, but in soccer, even soccer fans have to admit that it is out of hand. Is this something that soccer players really want to be known for? Do soccer leagues really do anything to prevent this behavior? Why is a ref less likely to call a penalty if there is no injury? As a spectator, it was hard to have a stoppage in play so often because of a player down on the ground.

I played my share of competitive team sports growing up — including soccer — and I never witnessed as much diving as I did watching two games in the World Cup. I was always taught to play tough, play through it, because teammates are counting on you.

Now as an adult I play hockey in local rec leagues and in pickup, and personally, as a player, I have never and will never dive for any reason. Ever. If I get hit, I get up (if I can) and keep on playing! At the very least I hobble over to the bench as quickly as I can to get a sub out there to play in my place. I leave it to the ref to decide whether or not there was a penalty. It’s naive I know, but isn’t this the way sports should be?

I know there are many, many more people in this world who are soccer/football fans than my fellow hockey fans, so I guess my question is, is this really “just part of the game?” It just seems ridiculous to me.

I can say that in hockey, even with protective equipment, the hits are harder, much, much, much more frequent, and the players still manage to play through it. Notice that in this video, most guys who get hit — even by the “hardest hits ever” — get right back up to play:

And by contrast, I came across this video, and while it’s not really fair, it does illustrate the issue in question pretty comically. While these are extreme examples, lesser dives happen frequently in every game. Something is wrong there.

And oh yeah, I redesigned my blog.

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