Thursday, October 23, 2008

How to make soccer popular in the U.S. (Part 1)

Americans, as a whole, have never embraced soccer.

My brother and I were discussing that just the other night. Now my little brother left Arkansas a few years ago and headed to North Carolina to establish his career as an optometrist. Henceforth, then, I shall refer to him as The Defector.

Anyway, The Defector and I came up with a few simple rules changes that will help soccer achieve popularity here in the United States. When The Hawg and The Defector put their minds to something, you can just bet that sheer genius results.

The problem, as we figure it, is two-fold for soccer. First of all, we've already got a couple of slow moving, boring games in the U.S. -- baseball and pro basketball during the regular season (we all know those NBA fellows run at about half speed until they get to the playoffs, right?) I love baseball, but the pace is decidedly slow.

Soccer has the same problem -- pass, pass, kick, pass, shoot on goal, miss, kick, kick, pass. Yes, it goes on forever and scoring is rare. If you want methodical strategy and a relaxed pace, baseball is your game here. For the people who can't handle all the fun and excitement of baseball, you've got golf. I won't really address golf here. Golf on television sucks.

Second, soccer has a lot to compete with, doesn't it? Football, baseball, hockey, basketball, NASCAR, golf, arena league football, tennis -- the list goes on and on. In order to compete, a sport really has to stand out from everything else, right?

The Defector and I have come up with a few, simple modifications to make soccer the fun, riot-inducing game we know it can be. Here, briefly, are the suggested changes that will make soccer as popular in the U.S. as it is in the rest of the world:

Tripping and kicking are legal

That's right. Players are allowed -- hell, encouraged, to trip and kick each other. What could be more exciting than that? No longer will the player he purposefully trips an opponent be greeted with some sissy referee waving a little card around. No, that player will be cheered!

Just imagine. Player A is kicking a ball down the field. Player B arrives, trips Player A and then steals the ball. What's more, Player B pauses long enough to kick Player A when he's down. Who wouldn't get excited over that?

Of course, players would be discouraged from using their hands -- that's just keeping with tradition. Still, just about all kinds of contact would be allowed, yet outright punching would be discouraged.

The key word here, of course, is discouraged -- punching wouldn't be illegal per se, but one player hitting another would lead to some nasty consequences that would thrill audiences but likely run up players' hospital bills. What's that consequence? The mandatory brawl.

Mandatory brawling

So, let's say one player does punch another. What happens? Why, the mandatory brawl rule comes into play. As soon as one player punches another (with the exception of goalies -- more on that in a bit), both teams are required to fight each other.

Yes, as soon as a punch is thrown, a bench-clearing brawl is to take place immediately. Any players that don't join in the brawl are heavily fined and the team with the most number of players not participating in the fight automatically forfeits the game.

Goals and goalies

One of the major problems with soccer, of course, is that not enough points are scored. Everyone loves to see high-scoring games, after all. Just look at how much people prefer home runs in baseball to the "old" game in which teams strategically hit singles and doubles in order to advance runners.

So, we make the goals in soccer big. Really big. Big enough to cover the entire end of the field, in fact. Yes, we'll see plenty of goals scored then.

Ah, but we need more people to defend those goals, right? So we have two goalies instead of one and those goalies have an additional ability -- they can punch other players with no consequence. Goalies have always been able to use their hands, after all, so let's take that ability to the logical extreme.

Taunting and celebrating

To hell with good sportsmanship. Under the proposed The Hawg/The Defector rules, players will be encouraged to taunt each other. Going back to our Player A/Player B example, let's say that Player B wants to gloat a bit over his victory.

"You suck and your mother is a filthy whore!" Player B yells as Player A is lying on the ground.

There's no problem at all there. In fact, if fans are lucky, Player A would get angry, get off the ground and punch Player B, thus bringing the mandatory brawling rule into play and giving fans a real treat.

Also, players are more than free to engage in excessive celebrations after scoring goals. They can sing, dance and openly mock the other team. Riling the opposing team will likely result in punches being thrown often, thus enacting our mandatory brawling rule once again.


If these rules were put in place for soccer in the U.S., you'd players would become celebrities over night and the sport would start to dominate in this country.

Yes, The Hawg and The Defector may have just saved soccer's future in America. Hopefully, we'll be compensated well as soon as our plan is enacted. Moreover, those soccer riots in other countries will look like tea parties compared to the outright wars fans will start here as they react emotionally to the extreme violence on the field.

Want more nonsense? Check out Part 2 by clicking right here!

12 comments: said...

Sounds a lot like Rugby to me!

Da Old Man said...

"So we have two goalies instead of one and those goalies have an additional ability -- they can punch other players with no consequence."
I love that rule and fully support it. I would consider tuning in just for that. And could you imagine the two goalies? One would be sort of "The Enforcer" a Mike Tyson type, while the other would be "The Protector" the type of guy who blocks extra points etc.

I do have one minor thought about your golf on TV analysis.

Nothing is more soothing and conducive to my Sunday after noon nap than soft spoken announcers and the gentle "golf clap."

fwaggle said...

Yeah, Rugby and/or Australian Rules Football are both sports that kinda/sorta fringe on the kind of "extreme football" you're talking about. Disclaimer: I'm Australian, and while I don't particularly like either of the games I mentioned, I just thought I should throw my bias out there.

Having said that though, I think the chief problem with soccer in the USA is much simpler. Here in the USA, you don't have an established tradition of hooliganism, and as such people are more inhibited (perhaps just less effected by mob mentality) at a soccer game than say, Man U fans at Leeds.

It's a known fact that a good many "soccer fans" simply go to matches to get messed-up-drunk and get into a fight with someone, and I think that is that "little something" that American soccer is missing from it's success.

Whether that's something american soccer officials want to start, or whether they'd rather put up with being "that other game", I can't say for sure.

Vintagegent said...

You should see the games and the crowds at farm team class c or d hockey games...bench clearing brawls guaranteed several times a game plus one kid with a really annoying air horn. THat stuff sells tickets.

The Natural State Hawg said...

Paul -- Perhaps. That wouldn't be an altogether bad thing, would it?

da old man -- That would be a very effective combination of goalies, indeed. I well imagine that you would have coaches trying out all sorts of combos.

You could have a point about golf on TV. I used to love playing golf, but watching it? Bores me to tears. I could see napping to it, though.

fwaggle -- I do believe you have a point. Perhaps I should modify the plan so that those fine rules are put in place and a three-drink minimum is enforced.

vintagegent -- Ah, that's the atmosphere that MLS officials ought to go for, air horn and all.

FishHawk said...

Now, I realize that you have not been well lately. In fact, undigested meds could be the answer, but enquiring minds are still forcing me to call your partiotism into question. For what are you and your brother doing having a discussion about soccer in the first-place???

Yeah, I can imagine that a few Samuel Adams were cracked open, and it was all downhill from there, but is that really a good excuse??? FROM A COLONEL, AND ON THE EVE OF THE HOUSTON NUTT-CASE INFESTATION--NO LESS!!!

shaxx said...

haha! nice try there!

Mystery Man said...

I don;t think soccer will ever be popular as a nationak sport here in the US.

I played it in high school, but have never been a fan of watching it. How sad is that?

There was the notion that with DAvid Beckham coming over to play for the L.A. Galxy and whatnot, it would bring some fans. All it did was bring about

Steve said...

Now I would watch that for sure.

Loïc BROHARD said...

"pass, pass, kick, pass, shoot on goal, miss, kick, kick, pass & it goes on forever and scoring is rare"... Isn't the real issue being that the half times are 2 x 45 minutes and that it does not fit with US broadcaster standards to have every-five-minute-interruption for TV advertisments...

The Natural State Hawg said...

FishHawg -- Perhaps you're right. Could it be that three months of steroids have warped me? Perhaps those healing steroids have just forced me think clearly for the first time in a long while. Hmmmm.

At any rate, I will agree that soccer is rather un-American. Ah, but my brother and I are always willing to help out where we can. We're very giving by nature, so we're just making a few suggestions about how to make a boring game a fascinating one.

Plus, if we can make a buck or two in the process...

Shaxx -- It's more than a nice try. It's the wave of the future!

Mystery Man -- Soccer probably never will be popular here. For most of my life, people have tried to make soccer a successful sport here and it just hasn't worked.

I don't think it's sad at all that you played soccer in high school but aren't a fan. Hell, I've played tennis for over 20 years and I can't stand watching it on television.

Steve -- So would I. Hell, I'd even pick a team to root for.

loic brohard -- Believe me, they'd figure out a way to advertise if the sport was popular.

chris said...

@ hawg brilliant plan! the mls failed miserably with their plan to get us to like soccer (sell the rights to espn for nearly nothing and then hope running the highlights down our throats make us like it). so we might as well give your plan a try.

bigger goals and free fighting goalie duos would rawk.

an amendment to the mandatory brawl rule...rather than have the team with the most non fighters forfeit, any player not fighting is subject to a penalty and must wear a tutu and one of those little girl birthday crowns. he may be freely hit (without the ability to retaliate) by any member of the opposing team for the duration of the penalty. the penalty will last for one minute per non participant.

it'd be the girly man clause. you could penalize all non fighters or just the ones from the team with the most non fighters.