June 16, 2018

THE PROBLEM IS NOT WHAT IT DOES TO SCORING...:

Understanding the 'Beautiful Game' (ALAN JACOBS, June 15, 2018, Weekly Standard)

Laurent Dubois devotes around 10 pages of The Language of the Game to describing how soccer's offside rule has changed over the decades. "Negotiating the offside rule is one of the most complex and absorbing features of the game both for strikers and defenders, an intricate dance that involves positioning and timing of the most nuanced kind," he writes. "To appreciate and understand this dance is, on a basic level, to appreciate and understand soccer." If anything, Dubois understates the case. The offside rule is the very heart and soul of what we aficionados, in exalted moods, call "the beautiful game." Please bear with me as I explain this.

The true fan delights in players who have not just the physical gifts but also the imagination to circumvent the rules that seem designed specifically to prevent scoring.
At the risk of oversimplification: The offside rule decrees that a player may not pass the ball to a teammate unless, at the moment of the pass, two members of the opposing side are closer to the goal than that teammate. Imagine that you are a soccer player with the ball. You look up and see a teammate all by himself, no defender anywhere around him, 30 yards from the goal. All you have to do is loft the ball in his general direction and he'll be playing one-on-one against the goalkeeper. But you can't. Instead of rejoicing in a scoring opportunity you're annoyed with your teammate for being so far out of position.


Almost all of the wonderful patterns and geometries of soccer are generated by this one rule, which also generates something that many non-fans greatly dislike: a paucity of goals. But soccer fans get exasperated when goals flow too freely. Scoring should not be easy, and, as with gold and diamonds, there's a link between rarity and value. The true fan delights in players who have not just the physical gifts but also the imagination to circumvent the rules that seem designed specifically to prevent scoring.


...but that it makes the officiating the most important aspect of the game.  They really need to adopt a hockey-style offsides and a goal crease.

Posted by at June 16, 2018 6:20 PM

  

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