Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Question About The Beautiful Game

We found out that the English Premier League is in HD on ESPN 2 on Saturday mornings. Eli 8.4 is playing in an indoor soccer league (associated commentary coming in the near future), so we're waking up on Saturday mornings and watching the EPL now.

The Wigan-Stoke game was on last week (okay, not a top of the table game, but still quite enjoyable), and while it was fun to watch, one thing was driving me absolutely crazy.

Soccer, seemingly more than all other team sports, has the rules set up so that it encourages play to be stopped whenever an attack is developing. The most obvious example is that if at any point, a defender believes that the defense isn't set up properly, he can just foul, which stops play and awards a free kick.

I believe this is known as a "professional foul."

Yes, it can be penalized with a red card, but that seems incredibly rare, and while an accumulation of yellow cards can lead to a suspension, that certainly doesn't help the flow of this game, where the foul actually occurs.

What it does is absolutely kill the momentum of play. It's tedious.

I know that rules change in soccer at an absolutely glacial pace, but here's a question: why don't they just move the wall back five more yards on free kicks, or make it illegal to form a wall at all? That would make free kicks much more dangerous, and fouling would become much more of a zero-sum decision, instead of the current situation, where it's tremendously advantageous to the defense to foul.

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