In the run-up to the World Cup, and during the first two weeks of the tournament itself, all we heard was how crazy Americans were about soccer — finally.
The leftist talking heads were practically giddy. At long last, America was showing near-European levels of sophistication. Once we’d embraced soccer, could single-payer health care and the 30-hour work-week be far behind?
Then Team USA was eliminated, and most of the hype fizzled overnight. Turns out Americans were never really that crazy about soccer; we just wanted our team to win. We’re Americans. Pulling for the red, white, and blue is what we do.
No doubt if there was a Go Fish world championship, and other countries somehow thought it was a big deal, we’d all want Team USA to kick butt.
So the questions remain, why aren’t Americans more interested in soccer and what can be done about it? I put the latter question to my 16-year-old son, who had an interesting suggestion.
“First,” he said, “make the field much smaller, maybe about 50 feet by 100. Then make the game five on five. And make the goals much smaller and put them up in the air.”
“That sounds a lot like basketball,” I said.
“Exactly,” he replied.
Hmmm. I wonder if he just might be on to something. In fact, he might have inadvertently answered both questions. Why don’t Americans love soccer? Because there’s not enough scoring. Half the game consists of two guys kicking the ball back and forth at midfield — what basketball fans call “stalling.” In the time it takes a soccer announcer to say the word “goal,” basketball teams can trade baskets twice.
What if we took my son’s suggestion and modified it a bit. Let’s say we do make the field smaller — maybe half the size it is now. Then we correspondingly cut the number of players from 11 to 6.
And here’s the kicker (so to speak): we make the goal much smaller — maybe 6 feet by 4 feet — and eliminate the goal keeper.
Imagine how boring basketball would be if each team had one tall guy whose only job was to keep balls from going through the hoop. Nobody would ever score! Which is exactly what happens in soccer, unless of course Germany is playing Brazil.
Just think of the goal-fest soccer would become with these few simple rules changes. Why, you might have games in the 20’s or 30’s. And in no way would the skills of the players be diminished. They’d just be put to better use entertaining the fans.
I know the rest of the world might take a while to get on board. But eventually, after watching soccer become a major revenue-producing sport in this country, they’d figure out that, once again, the American way is better.
Who knows? They might even eventually move to a 40-hour work week.
Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and the author of “Family Man: The Art of Surviving Domestic Tranquility,” available at Books for Less and on Amazon. E-mail Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @FamilyManRob.