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1st and Five: Top Things I Don't Understand About Soccer


 Wow. I haven't done one of these threads in like 4th and FOREVER....



Nearing only two months remaining before the season kicks off, expectations are nearly as high as the mercury, and patience, as well as CFB topics, are wearing a little thin at the moment. Last Thursday night, SB Nation had a gathering in Atlanta which we staff members thought was meant more or less for contributors to the various blogs in the SBN community, but was actually meant for anybody that wanted to come. As a result, witness our failure to publish said notice (and in our defense, along with most of our SEC sister blogs) and that's too bad, because if you're like me, nothing is more motivating a phrase than open bar. There's a reason why my friends didn't have open bar weddings back in the 90s--because I would still be there. Regardless, SB Nation had an important announcement to make at this function, one which was lost upon me after about my 7th Crown Royal Black and Coke.

I met Kyle King over at Dawgsports, as we reminisced over haiku gone wrong.  Everyone's favorite Spencer Hall from EDSBS was on hand, but was not instantly recognizable to me sans his porn 'stache. Unfortunately, I met no one associated with Roll Bama Roll, which is quite the pity as I was going to make a personal plea to have my ban from that site lifted by no later than September or so, or at least before the last batch of Yea, Alabama 2010 rolled off the press so I might get an autographed copy. I think a rumor that Jay Coulter was going to ride shotgun with me might have prompted last minute cancellations, much to my (and his) chagrin. There is no truth to the rumor that we had chartered the Auburn recruiting limo. We wouldn't have done something so flamboyant even if a certain someone's corporate credit card would have gone through for the deposit.

So, I know you poor peeps are going through football withdrawal, so much so that you were probably like me on Saturday, laid out on your couch, watching to see if the U.S. could cure it's four year-old case of Ghana rrhea. I even grabbed an unused transmission fluid funnel from the garage to make an impromptu vuvuzela that even McGruber, nee' McGuiver, would have been proud of. It didn't really sound like a pocket hornet's nest in as much as it did a mini-megaphone, and with me not knowing any particular soccer cheers, I proceeded to play the first few notes of War Eagle time and time again, which only sounded like a slightly amplified version of me doing it with my lips. And if you've ever heard me play the simulated lip trumpet, it's a pretty mean rendition and almost kazoo-sounding, I might add. For the record, a transmission fluid funnel can also be made to play Louie, Louie in a pinch. 

But what kind of substitute is soccer for football, really? I'm not going to knock the sport, a lot of people like it--it's come a long way since the ball-hugging shorts days of the 70s and early 80s, but people my age's only exposure to it was a forced contest in middle school P.E. class where the goals were two pylons each on a patchy grass field and most of the game time was spent chasing errant balls that went out of bounds. Hell, I don't even think the P.E. teachers even knew the rules, and those guys had been bestowed the title coach. We were southerners. It's like asking us the rules to ice hockey. We know BBQ and football. In that order--knowledge-wise, because you don't want to eat BBQ immediately preceding the playing or practicing of football.

Not that I didn't try to get into it. At it's base, it's not that's there's no offense, it's that there's a lot of defense--so unlike that 2008 3-2 Auburn-Mississippi State game. There are some appealing aspects to it--assuming the game is televised at some point after you've awoken in the morning. I won't get up for a 11am AUBURN kickoff, much less some pre-dawn soccer match. And don't forget that the game is being played in South Africa--which is in the southern hemisphere, which actually doesn't affect the time at all--at the match site or even for all us Yanks back here in the states, but I thought I'd show off my geography knowledge while I can, before my dearth of soccer smarts reveals itself. Here goes--my Top 5 list of things I don't understand about soccer.


1) Why the name soccer when everyone else calls it FOOTBALL? No, it's not some American rebellion from nomenclature. Just like the rest of our fanciful language, it comes from England, who coined it originally to differentiate between this sissy game and a real one like rugby football, in which you not only kick the ball, but kick a lot of ass. Yes, I do dearly wish this to be another case of American exceptionalism, especially since that concept is dying today before our very eyes, but it's not to be so. Obviously, we have our football in this country and we're not relinquishing that term without first prying it from our cold, dead fingers and we steadfastly laugh at those who stand on American soil and try to con us into labeling their game with that term. And ever since the phrase soccer mom has bastardized any respect that the name soccer had left, I propose that we come up with a new term, perhaps a nome de guerre for the sport that makes it sound tougher than it really is, say like Fussball? Yea, I know that term is taken, but nobody really plays that parlor game anymore, save in frat house basements, and it just sounds so German, which is likely to tone down any French fussball fans you might encounter.

2) Boy, that clock sure does run. Although I didn't actually see a game begin, I did see a few end, and that clock ain't stopping for nothing.  The no-commercials aspect of it is pretty cool, but you think they might just cut from the action momentarily like they do in NASCAR. The flip side is no pee breaks, but which is tempered by the fact that you're not likely to miss any action even on a four-beer bladder. At the end of the Ghana match, when their players started flopping on the ground like chop-block victims, they actually brought the stretcher out and removed a guy while the clock ran. Only the head referee knew the double-secret amount of time he would allow the clock to run after the allocated extra period, and he wasn't telling anyone. Think he just made it up in his head? Yup! I do. Somebody check that guy's passport--just for the record.

3) Are these offside penalties really necessary? Because it seemed like everytime they called one, a player was in the perfect position to take a shot on goal. How the hell am I supposed to know he just cheated? Looked like Kobe breaking away for a dunk to me. Is scoring really not something to strive to promote a little more in this sport? I don't even know if you have defender players who must remain back like you do in ice-hockey, but I think that you should be able to load guys in the box anytime you want, as long as you get more shots on goal. As a matter of fact, I think an 'open range' like rules policy would be the best promotor of more scoring save for putting two balls in play at once, a la certain pinball machines. Besides, how else am I ever going to witness a bicycle kick while watching?

4) What's up with the deck of cards? Red and yellow can kill a fellow, but pulling one on a player definitely gets more whining than an old-fashioned penalty flag. Maybe because it's so personal. Flags are on the play. Cards are in your face! Yellow is more or less of a warning, I've observed, while red is futbol you and the donkey you rode in on. Maybe they should get other colored cards to cover a wider gambit of offenses, sort of like a FIFA Uno deck. Green for I don't like your country, so don't push it; Blue for quit kicking the ball out of f*ing bounds so much and Black for You just lost to Portugal 7-0, you'll be hanged at high noon under the watchful eye of our Dear Leader. That should just about cover it.

5) When will the U.S. get us some soccer hooligans? Which is it? Do you have to be a world class program to have hooligans, or is the only requirement to be white and have a suck-ass team? You don't ever hear of Brazil having hooligans, or Mexico, but that's probably only because Mexicans don't have the passport to fly out of the United States to attend matches. Actually, I think the hooligans are limited mainly to professional matches in Europe as FIFA officials, along with INTERPOL, tend to limit the gangsters who can travel to world cup matches. Remember when the World Cup was in Germany last? Their security could probably find Osama Bin Laden if properly positioned. Some of the European professional league hooligans have corners staked out in stadiums that even Al Qaeda wouldn't infiltrate. I guess that's the dark side of soccer over there, that fertile skinhead and fascist recruiting fields are found in sports stadiums. I guess maybe it's a good idea that we Americans not form our own band of hooligans. But if you beat us and piss us off, we have two words: regime change.


War Eagle Atlanta is a football fan and actually doesn't understand as much about soccer as seemingly elaborated above.