Monday, June 28, 2010

technology vs. human face

If you've watched any of the action in the currently occurring World Cup and if you also know anything about soccer then you've no doubt seen at least one missed call by a referee. If you haven't seen a bad call then you haven't been watching.

I'll accept that my US team didn't play nearly as well as Ghana in the game we lost that sent us home. The US couldn't hold onto a ball, couldn't seem to get on the end of passes, and looked frightened at the speed with which Ghana ran at whoever had the ball. I saw what looked like a lot of panicking and getting rid of the ball with far too many passes going to a man in red as opposed to a teammate.

It's arguable that the US was tired, having only two days between games, though Ghana only had half a day more of rest than did the US. It's also worth noting that in each of the previous three games the US played our guys were cheated out of a goal and possibly the win. Why does this matter?

In soccer the team that scores first certainly puts themselves at an advantage. In a sense all you need to do is keep the ball for your side the rest of the game while your opponents need not only to score to tie the game but score a second time to get the win.

So given that that the US had pivotal goals disallowed they found themselves having to work that much harder than they should have. They had an uphill battle over and over that they should not have faced, and it's worth noting because this tiredness from having to work harder than they should have certainly set them up for a rough game against Ghana.

I hope none of this seems like sour grapes because it's also worth noting that our guys gave up an early goal in each game and set themselves up for the uphill battle. Couple that with FIFA hiring degenerates to ref games and the fact that the assistant refs apparently just don't know their job, and you get a recipe that cooks up a big pot of US out in the first stage of the knock out round.

And having all this to ruminate, I still think that there's no room for replays in soccer. I don't want to see the game ruined by constantly stopping to check a ref's call. I don't want my beloved soccer to turn into Americanized crap in which the sponsors rule the field by stopping the game for commercials every few minutes. I love soccer because a ninety minute game takes slightly more than ninety minutes versus American football in which a sixty minute time clock takes between two and three hours to actually tick all the way to zero.

One of my greatest fears regarding replays in soccer is the insidious nature of advertising. All it takes is fifteen seconds to cut away for a quick reminder that Buick sells cars or that Coca Cola may be a refreshing beverage. And once you allow that first little ad to sneak in you've set yourself up for soccer played in quarters because some dink thinks you should be reminded about how easy it is to gamble on Ameritrade and has the money to convince the powers that be that they too could line their pockets if only.

And for the record I also hate that American football players sometimes don't even play the last few minutes versus soccer teams who are losing and know that they can't overcome the goal deficit yet continue to fight till the very last blast of the whistle.