A Conversation for Football

American sports mentality

Post 1

The Wall

Well, colonel... heard enough from you about table tennis (which you know zero about)... Football, baseball. USA (rah rah rah) was never too good at rugby, so they come up with American football... a rugby ripoff, without being rugby. Ditto cricket... instead of being perennial losers at cricket, just change it a little, and presto!! You have baseball. Unfortunately, it's too popular now, and the Japanese and Taiwanese and (GASP) Cubans are as good as any Americans. Maybe time to invent a new sport.

As for table tennis, which you say isn't a sport... it isn't, the way YOU play it. Nor is a 5 year old playing "Turkey in the Straw" proof that a violin isn't a beautiful instrument. You simply don't know what REAL table tennis is. What do you think world class Olympic players do, play basement ping pong only without missing as often?? Geez!!!! You think there's nothing to boxing other than guys flailing away moronically (like at a Tough man competition... what technique!! What footwork!!)?? LEARN a little, buddy.


American sports mentality

Post 2

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

Are you done with your petulant temper tantrum? Good. Now sit down and be a good little boy or girl...

American football came about because we thought the original game was boring. Same with baseball... and how anyone who will watch seven god-awful days of cricket can talk about anyone else's sports taste is beyond me.

Olympic-level ping-pong it may be, but it is still ping-pong. Have you ever watched a master play at darts? Billiards? It is far and above what the average pub player can accomplish, but it is still a pub game. Do you know how much hand-eye coordination and quick reflexes are required to play foosball at the highest level? That doesn't make it a sport... the little wooden men are the ones doing all the work.

In short... get a life. It's a just a freaking game.


American sports mentality

Post 3

The Wall

A master dart player does the same damn thing a barroom dart player does. Only better. Maybe fractionally more exertion is involved. Ditto billiards. Playing foosball... even as an expert... you're still basically standing there, giving your wrists and forearms (maybe) a bit of a workout.

What I'm telling you... read slowly to understand this please... is that the ping pong you're familiar with is NOT a sport. I agree that much. The ordinary untrained player stands like a tree rooted to one spot, waves one arm around. Fine.
A TRAINED competitive player is a different matter. There is a "strike zone" for each of the forehand and backhand sides where the optimum stroke (in terms of accuracy and power) can be executed. Where you're neither stretching your arm like hell to reach it, or getting scrunched up by a shot right into the body, where neither forehand nor backhand can deal comfortably with it. The trained player wants EVERY ball to be in one of those two "sweet spots". The TRAINED player will anticipate the direction of the opponent's shot and use footwork to intercept the ball so it passes into his Forehand or Backhand strike zone on EVERY shot. The opponent, obviously, if they have any brains at all, is deliberately placing EVERY shot as difficultly as possible... so either you move like hell, or you're forced to return a less than optimum shot (like a free ball rather than a spike in Volleyball). The players are generally only 12 or so feet away from each other, so a ball travelling at the speed THEY routinely play at allows for very little time to move. Yet they do. For every shot. In every point. In every game. Match after match.
PING PONG PLAYERS DO NOT ( and COULD NOT even if they freakin TRIED)MOVE LIKE THIS. This is DIFFERENT. You CANNOT get to the level of a trained competitive table tennis athlete without using 50x the exertion for each shot that a basement ping pong hacker would make.


American sports mentality

Post 4

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

Allow me to reiterate my point in very few words:

I don't care.


American sports mentality

Post 5

The Wall

Great, in future try to restrict your expertise to something you know/and or care about. Geez, that wouldn't leave you all that much to talk about, would it?


American sports mentality

Post 6

lafftur

I know that this might get my Indiana and US citizenship revolked, but I think American Football has got to be the most boring (after golf) sport to watch on television ever. Give me a good footie match anytime -- Ryan Giggs dancing down the wing with three defenders in his shorts, and still managing to set up a cross for Ole Gunnar; Roy Lassiter powering down the pitch, just beggin for it; the heart of Mia Hamm; the delicate artistry of the Brazilians. AND no commercials (adverts) for 45 whole minutes. If "soccer" is not popular viewing in the US, blame the networks and the advertisers, who LOVE the "hurry up and wait" quality of American Turdball er I mean football. I'd pay good money to see the Indianapolis Dolts er I mean Colts play a game of REAL football against our dear but barely pro Indiana Blast. Can Edgerrin James run for 45 minutes? Don't bet your gold tooth on it!

And yes, it is just a game -- the way NASDAQ is just wagering. It is an industry -- a very lucrative one, judging by the dollar figures bandied about. I know "soccer" has huge price tags, too -- but not so huge yet in the US, and I would rather see the little logo in the corner of the screen next to the score change every 10 minutes, than sit through a jarring interruption to the run of play and 3 minutes of bad taste blaring at me. With football, I get more bang for the buck -- in two hours I get ninety minutes of play. In American football, a televised three hours only contains an hour or so of actual play. Do the math!


American sports mentality

Post 7

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

Soccer may not go away for commercials, but you still have them, posted over the top of the action. In American sports, nothing could be considered a greater crime, but in soccer, you're not missing anything.

Soccer is the only sport in the world where the offense has to slow up to wait for the defense. Soccer's offsides is the most ignorant rule in ANY sport.

Unfortunately in soccer, the score itself does not change every 10 minutes... that would suggest typical scores of 5-4. You're far more likely to see a 0-0 tie, for the reason mentioned above.

Contrary to their press, soccer players do NOT run the entire 90 minutes... they spend quite a lot of time standing or jogging as they wait for the play to come to their neighborhood, not to mention the breaks for penalties, corner kicks, and out-of bounds... and the clock is still running during these intermissions, giving you the unfounded claim that the action never stops, when the action stops as frequently as in a hockey game, but the clock doesn't (thus making the clock the greatest athlete on the field). And you'd never see Roy-whatsit survive the battle in the trenches of a football game. You'd never see him break 5 tackles in a single play, and if he did manage to escape for a 105-yard punt return, he'd have to head for the locker room for oxygen and a rub-down.

Anywway, football is a game not only of physical, but intellectual combat. A soccer player only has to think about kicking the ball to the other end, and doesn't have to wrap his tender brain around the intricacies of "Trips right, 38-Z trap, on two." Edgerrin James may not be a scholarly man, but he knows the difference between zone and bump-and-run coverage, and how to exploit the weaknesses of each.

Another failing of soccer is that they inflate their number of scoring chances to make it look more exciting. Teams get more scoring chances than they do shots on goal, which is rediculous... how can you have a scoring chance if you never even get to shoot? If they took a hint from hockey (in which a goalie might make 30 stops in a game, yet the other team might only have had a dozen scoring chances, because the goalie had no real challenge to smother the other 18, or they were repeated attempts on the same chance) the scoring chances would be as few as the goals. The other 90 minutes are filled with absolute doldrum. In a football game, you see more excitement on the opening kickoff than was seen by the entire world at the Women's World Cup final in Pasadena (in soccer's shining opportunity in the US, the women won the gold on a 0-0 shootout victory... go figure).


American sports mentality

Post 8

The Wall

Your criticism of soccer is... for lack of a better word... typically American. Not enough goals. Well, no, not for an American coach potato's childlike attention span. Soccer is elegant simplicity. Basically no equipment other than the ball and the goalposts. No hands allowed, except the keeper.
The offside rule is a cool way to prevent "cherrypicking". Attacking player is forced to legitimately outmaneuver the defender in some way. I can see how that would bug you. How nice it would be if the striker could just camp out by the net and wait for a pass, huh?
Soccer players run a hell of a lot more than American football players, or baseball players... or probably basketballers for that matter. Roy whatsit doesn't need a mountain of protective gear, or sheer force to break a tackle (or make one). Just skill and coordination.
And of COURSE there's no strategy to worry about in soccer.
If you want to criticize soccer, criticize how in a typically low scoring game, so many outcomes are decided by penalties called when the attacking player dives dramatically if anyone breathes on him... and the positioning of spot from which penalty shots are taken, where the keeper has to hope the shooter misses entirely, else almost any shot is unstoppable.


American sports mentality

Post 9

lafftur

Well played, Wall! And your last paragraph sums up my biggest problem with the MLS -- what up with the "no draws" rule? I have never understoood why -- except the feeling that American fans will not accept a 1-1 or (worse!) 0-0 result. SOMEONE must conquer. And the whole diving thing -- I felt that several "Best Actor" Oscars (SM) should have been awarded during the last World Cup...


American sports mentality

Post 10

lafftur

I beg to differ, Colonel -- I saw Ryan Giggs, all 5'11" and 170 pounds, break five tackles to score an amazing goal against Arsenal. I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me. Now, granted, I have not seen Roy "Whatsit" Keene do that, but then again, I don't have cable anymore so I CAN'T. Could he? I doubt it not. Of course, neither of the men I mention are enormous freaks of nature -- 6'5" and 300 lbs -- wearing gear that weighs what I do. Hell, there is pictoral proof out on the internet that some of these guys don't even wear a cup - I was emailed an unpleasantly revealing photo of some member (!) of the England side...

As to adverts over the screen -- I have yet to see them obscure the action -- and frame for frame, I think you will find as much logoed sponsorship in the flashed stats and other crap that pops up during an NFL broadcast. The notion that nothing would be missed is obviously shared by espn2, which shows only abbreviated (15 minutes or so) segments of featured matches on its English Premiere League program. I must give them credit for showing some of the run of play that leads up to goals -- most US coverage shows only the final touch, like that's all there was to it... I hate that. I will not go in to my usual screed here about how that propensity comes down to gender differences and what we know about sexual response...

No, the score does not change every 10 minutes -- except for the times that it does. I personally have seen several matches where the score changed dramatically within 5 minutes -- and in injury time! And when a side scores, they get ONE point. Not six, not three, ONE.

As to the supremacy of the clock -- are you aware that in most of the world (the US is the notable exception) no one knows the time except the officials and anyone who happens to be wearing a watch? The time is not on the scoreboard. The players on the pitch know the time only from the whistle. Penalties are issued for dawdling at corners and PKs. Play does not stop when a substitution is made. A good side pauses not at all for throw-ins. Time may be a tyrant in futbol, but when the match is done it is done -- not like cricket or baseball. As an American I wonder why the seeming need for Sudden Death -- are we really such emotional infants as to require absolute, full-stop closure?

I am not sure I undertand your point about scoring chances -- the hockey comparison loses me. Elaborate?

You are right about the ebb and flow of pace -- No one sprints the entire 90 minutes. But neither do they flop down on the bench and become surrounded by attendants with Gatorade and fresh towels every 5 minutes. They are moving constantly. And as Loki said in "Dogma", "Mass genocide is the most exhausting activity known -- except for soccer."

It may really all boil down to a matter of taste -- the attractions of Association Football to me are the beauty of the play, the skill and teamwork of a good side, each player moving the ball to a teammate as if by radar, the little dummies and cheeky backheels that spoof the opposition. This is what I don't want to miss with "words from our sponsor". It is to me "the beautiful game" - in large because it is one of the few sports that still feels like a game and not some sort of artificial specatacle. Normal sized people matching sheer skill and stamina against one another. So simple, children all over the world play it with nothing but a ball. More children all over the world recognise Ronaldo but cannot identify a photo of Michael Jordan. That makes sense to me. American Football is more like demolition derby than a game. I just don't get it. I find nothing aesthetically pleasing in it. So I don't watch it at all.


American sports mentality

Post 11

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

Roy Keene's definition of "tackle" is quite a bit different from Edgerrin James'... nobody is trying to drag him down forcibly.

Your racist sentiments are really pissing me off, as if I haven't had enough of them from the man with the brains of a wall. The comments about short attention span are unwarranted and unnecessary.

The bit about cherry-picking has been solved beautifully by hockey with the advent of the lines and their own unique offsides rules, which prevent passing across two lines, and forces the players to remain behind their attacking blue line until the puck crosses. This still allows for the excitement of a breakaway chance but requires grace and skill to achieve one. No cherry-picking, high drama. Basketball allows cherry-picking, soccer allows no drama. Hockey is the best balance. And in football, if you can get the ball past all 11 defenders, you've earned it.

As for sudden death, Americans like closure. Each match should have a winner and a loser. Football does tie on rare occasions, but the rules are set up so it happens very rarely (one or two games an entire season, max), and we appreciate that. If you go to see a game, and your team loses, you have something to grumble about, and if your team wins, you have something to cheer about, but if they tie, then what? Both sides go home grumbling. A tie is as good as a loss, as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, when you see a soccer game, you see beauty of play. I see people kicking the ball back and forth without managing to accomplish anything. There is no achievement. They only seem to score on corner kicks. Otherwise, the ball just bounces pointlessly from one end to another. I have enjoyed playing it (and I can tell you quite honestly that playing backyard football requires MUCH more energy than backyard soccer) but I can't stand to watch it. Even in a low scoring football game, there is achievement when a team makes a first down, makes a good kick return, recovers a turnover, or just smothers the opposing quarterback or running back. In a low-scoring hockey game (yes, there are 0-0 ties, but these are exceedingly rare) you're still going to have the exciting checks, the breathtaking saves, the acrobatic moves, and an occasional scuffle. You see passes to teammates as if by radar, I see passes to the other team as the norm. The ball comes to one player, and two defenders smother him instantly. No strategy, no skill, just dumb luck involved in getting the ball down at the other team's end for a corner kick, and more dumb luck involved in getting one of your teammates to head it into the net. This wasn't the case when I played backyard soccer, but then again, we did away with that foolish offsides rule.


American sports mentality

Post 12

lafftur

Colonel -- thanks for the elaboration of the hockey example. That does clear it up -- I agree that the lines and what not do cut down on goal poaching. And I really do believe that the rules (or Laws) of a sport should keep up with certain changes, although there is a pro and con to that, too. I know what trouble the Pacers recently had with Shaquille O'Neal parking in the paint. That whole "hack a'Shaq" thing was very unpretty.

And I absolutely accept that you may not see in "soccer" what I do. I am not ordinarily a "sports fan" and football is the only thing I follow regularly, for the reasons I outlined previously. As a woman and as an American I often get reactions ranging from "Dyke!" to "Freak!" to "Traitor!" once my admiration for this sport is known. (only "Freak" is remotely accurate.) But, different strokes, as it were.

What I do not understand at all is your accusation that I am somehow a racist! Perhaps instead of using Roy Keene and Ryan Giggs as examples I might have cited Andy Cole or Edgar Davids or George Weah. But last I knew,. Roy Lassiter was African American, and the lovely and talented Mia Hamm might have beat out nearly any member of the American men's team, had she the opportunity. (She is a rare one!) There is an Iranian striker that is top caliber, and the captain of the Chinese women's side has real stuff. The best players in the game today are not all photogenic David Beckhams and matinee idol adolescents like Michael Owen. If it was my "freaks of nature" comment, please rest assured that I put the extrememly Caucasian Payton Manning in the same category. Don't even get me started on basketball (the Hoosier disease) -- have you ever met Rik Smits? I have --delightful fellow -- but the man MUST have gladular irregularities.

Please do let me know which of my comments you perceived as racist. I sincerely do seek to better myself, and that is a blight of which I wish to eradicate even the faintest shadow.


American sports mentality

Post 13

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

My apologies, lafftur... it was The Wall who posted the further racist, inflammatory stuff, and I mistakenly attributed it to you. I am glad we have been able to come to an understanding on the rest of it, as well. I think soccer would be a good sport if it weren't for the offsides rule, but with it, I just don't get it. Call it a character flaw, if you will.

BTW... I think the entire basketball league is based on some sort of overdose of Human Growth Hormone at an early age. smiley - winkeye


American sports mentality

Post 14

The Wall

Look, if you're going to put down soccer for low scoring, you're inviting low-attention-span remarks. You're saying that the only thing worth watching and capturing any sort of interest is a scoring play, or at the least a scoring chance. Anthing else is too subtle to hold your attention. Sort of like saying watching a boxing match between two evenly matched and talented boxers is a waste of time if it goes the distance without a knockdown. I like the details of technique, seeing how one boxer or player or team deals with specific tactics and actions of the opposing side...
By the way... back to soccer vs football... soccer doesn't see fit to require cheerleaders to distract you from the dullness.


American sports mentality

Post 15

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

You clearly lack the intellect granted to the common fruitfly. I said there are low-scoring games in football and hockey that I can still appreciate, but that I cannot appreciate soccer scoring because it seems completely random and strategy-less. If you had a basic reading comprehension, you would have noticed that. It makes me wonder who has the shorter attention span...


American sports mentality

Post 16

lafftur

Thank you for the gracious apology, Colonel. I see we can agree to disagree..

And I concur wholeheartedly with your NBA assessment.

I do hope you and The Wall can come to some understanding -- You two may indeed find common ground. There is subtlety and grace in all altheltic to one degree or another -- even curling has its charms, I'm told...

Gosh, I hope I haven't started another controversy! smiley - winkeye


American sports mentality

Post 17

marvthegrate LtG KEA

I would like to add a bit about hockey. I am an American, also I am a true fanatic when it comes to hockey (ice). I also have been a soccer player. I can enjoy watching a footie match but I guess that I must have a small I.Q. and no attention span. I will not watch a full soccer match that has no emotional attachment for me. I also hate football but have played it on a competetive level. I can attest that just getting through the line of defensemen is a test of strenght and stamina. I can also say that I know what it is like to run non-stop for three hours on the soccer field. But I cannot stand to hear a mis-informed person malign my country and it's sports just because we are the useless stupid americans. For the record Football (US style) was a unique abberation of footbal (anywhere else) It is NOT A RIP OFF OF RUGBY! I consider myself a anglophile, but I get a little tired of the constant beratement of my country. I cannot even call myself a big fan of the american sports, when the witner olympics rolls around I root for the Canadian team, as all of my favorite players are from Canada. Watching the world cup is slightly interesting to me, but watching some random match in a country 5000 miles away just does not seem to hold my low IQ attention span. Oh Wait, I never watch basketball games for the same reason! They simply do not interest me. You have been sparring with Col. Sellers in multiple fora for what seems to be a major disagreement. You can applaud yourself for being a pigheaded bigot Wall. You re-affirm my opinion that the world is full of assholes and idiots. Thank you. I was tending to feel that the guide was a nice place to spend my online time. Now I can go waste my time working or something. You and your type have made it almost unbearable to continue to spend my effort and time here on h2g2. As one of the longest running active researcher here that makes me mad. Why can you not agree to disagree as lafftur has done. Extend an olive branch and get to know Sellers. He is a great guy who I am glad to have met and know. The things that make us different are the things that make the guide great. Take a look again at the TOS for this site, and you will see the biggest thing there revolves around the precieved offense of other people. Try to moderate your vitriol my friend. It is in the best interests of everyone here to try to come to understanding with each other. Not to tear down ones ideals and opinions. And remember, your words are OPINION not FACT please visit www.dictionary.com to see the difference.
Hi Col. Sellers! And good to meet you lafftur!


American sports mentality

Post 18

The Wall

Sure, getting thru a defensive line is a test of strength and stamina. So is moving furniture. Not something I care to watch tho, in either case. As for football being derived from soccer and not rugby... a rugby play typically begins with a SCRUM, the football play at the line of SCRIMMAGE. Etymology alone should tip you off. Both are contact sports. Require carrying a goofily shaped object up the field... not just kicking it. Different points are awarded depending if the "ball" is kicked or physically carried past the uprights. How many more parallels do you need?
And World Cup wise... a random match 5000 miles away doesn't interest you. Say Romania against Saudi Arabia. Nothing in common with those countries... language, race, sure as hell not religion, politics... only soccer. And most likely pride in representing their country. That makes it interesting to me. Every player on each team knows that millions of their countrymen are watching their every move. So WHAT if I don't have some personal connection to Romania or Saudi Arabia??? The pressure of the situation those players are under, the passion they're playing with... that's good enough for me. The "bigoted racist" impression I have of USA is that Americans...compared to other nationalities... are self-absorbed and take little notice of things outside their borders. That's why you don't care to watch a "random game 5000 miles away".

As for opinion and fact... I watch whatever sports I mention before I state my opinion. Gargle obviously has never seen world class table tennis, yet he lumps it in with bar room ping pong. The trouble is, if he can speak with any authority about football, people might assume he's equally informed about table tennis. Table tennis isn't shown in North America. Probably because TV networks are embarrassed that America's greatest table tennis players... and Canada's as well... are Chinese expatriots who demolish whatever home grown talent is produced here.

And I've yet to stoop to name calling. Trust you guys to get there first. =)


American sports mentality

Post 19

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

I've watched world-class ping-pong... it's boring.

I've watched international hockey with great interest... Sweden vs Finland is always a good rivalry, and lately Czech Republic vs Slovakia is even better. Canada vs Russia is always exciting, too, since they embody the contrast between the North American physical game vs the European skill game. I don't even watch soccer when the US is involved... it's boring.

I also am ignoring any further attempts for the wall to contact me, because he is boring.


American sports mentality

Post 20

The Wall

There's no such thing as world-class ping pong. Only basement/bar room ping pong. If you somehow managed to find World-class table tennis on American TV, must have been a 15 sec little bit of somebody doing circus shots 40 feet from the table, during some highlight reel. It probably wasn't the sport that bored you, more like your preconceptions of what you thought you were seeing. Or maybe just the lack of cheerleaders (I wonder how baseball survives without cheerleaders??? Hmmm I guess they have their mascots to liven things up).
Go ahead and ignore, buddy. I'll try not to shed a tear for being deprived of your riveting insights.


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