A Conversation for Talking Point: Football

Thickball!

Post 21

The Nitpicker


To take your points in order (with illustrations from 'my' team/s local and international);

Speed/physical element
If you think it is not fast you have never seen Nicholas Anelka or, nowadays, Thierry Henry at their best, Bobby Pires and Marc Overmars are no slouches either and even our defenders (Martin Keown) can run a lot faster than most! I think the fastest I have ever seen a footballer run was Edgar Davids who ran the whole length of the pitch and still managed to get a tackle in on a player who had started to run from near the centre spot at the same time! And I certainly would not want to tangle physically with some of the defenders I watch regularly, well maybe outside the football pitch smiley - winkeye
Women's Football
Cannot be compared to the men's game yet but it is improving and, as we are discussing football not bra advertisements, the skill levels are very high - there are some women who could play in the English professional game (OK maybe not the Premiership yet but Marieanne Spacey could certainly teach her male counterparts at Arsenal a thing or two about how to take a penalty!)
0-0 ties
Just because there are no goals scored does not mean that the match is no good - some of the most exciting matches I have seen have been 0-0 with the goalkeepers being the stars for a change! There are some days when the outfield players can have 30+ shots (one every three minutes) which are prevented from going in the net by a sheer athleticism combined with incredibly fast reflexes. I have tried to find the stats for the whole Premier League season so far but failed so here is a taster.
Thierry Henry has played in 30 matches this season, scored 16 which is 14% of his shots (115 shots and counting) with an accuracy of 52% of shots on target and that is no mean feat or feet!
In total Arsenal have had 436 shots in 33 matches of which more than half were on target and scored 11% of them (49 goals)! In some cases it has been impossible to believe that they did not go in the net but other teams goalkeepers always seem most highly motivated when they play us ;-(
The Premiership total of 867 goals in 668 matches (1.3 goals per game) might sound dull but multiply that by (roughly) 10 makes over 10 shots on target per game (one every 9 minutes?) so the goalkeeper and defenders are not exactly standing around doing nothing!!!
Learning the Game
Same applies to football - if you don't understand the rules it takes some time to learn e.g. the mysteries of the 'off-side' rule which some VERY highly paid players still don't seem to understand! I have had a casual interest since the 1970s and have been going to every Arsenal home match for about 10 years (plus Reserve and Ladies matches) and there are still situations when I haven't got a clue what the reasoning behind the referee's decision was! I do have two recently qualified footie referees in my family though, one of whom I sit next to at the matches, who try to explain when I don't get it but sometimes they are as mystified as I am!


Thickball!

Post 22

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

Now that we've got some good numbers, we can compare.

Goals per game:
NHL - 5.51 (I did the math this time)
Premiership - 1.3

Shots on goal in a wide-open game:
NHL - 30+ (Shots wide of the net are never counted... stats are only available for shots delivered on target, and those that are not tipped away or blocked by defenders)
Premiership - 10

Shooting accuracy:
Arsenal's star - 14%
LA Kings - 8 players over 14% - top scorer Ziggy Palffy scored 38 goals with a 17.5% accuracy. That was good for 20th best in the league. The leader is Toronto's Gary Roberts, at 21%.

The numbers tell the story. There is a serious lack of exciting moments in a football game. And if you want to argue that there is more excitement generated by the physical aspect, hockey is unarguably more physical. If you want to argue that the speed of the game is the exciting part, it cannot be questioned that hockey is the "fastest game in the world." But then, hockey is unique, and it is not my purpose to say that it is better. I offered the comparison with hockey because it's a similar game, but, because they solved the cherry-picking issue better, it's a more exciting game. If football revised their offsides rule, it would be a more exciting game.

Of course, it would never beat hockey... smiley - winkeye


Thickball!

Post 23

The Nitpicker

"The numbers tell the story. There is a serious lack of exciting moments in a football game."

This is probably the root cause of our different choice of football code - I am not actually interested in the statistics of the matches or players at all - I don't go to the footie to count the shots on target or successful tackles. There are exciting moments which cannot be quantified in this way e.g. the game seems to be going nowhere in the end that 'my' team is defending when a player sees an opportunity for a pass which the other side have not which may be unbelievably difficult to execute but it succeeds because the only other person on the pitch who does see what can happen responds and gets into the right place to receive the ball and changes the whole situation from stalemate to extreme danger (this obviously happens against my team too but I hope you get the idea!)
I also hate the way they just can't seem to play for more that a few seconds at a time without needing to regroup in the American game (BTW this discussion is beginning to confuse me spread out over two threads like this). In my favoured code they just keep going and, sometimes, don't stop for up to 10 minutes at a time. Although the players are nominally 'defenders' or whatever, the best can play anywhere on the pitch taking on any role are required e.g. a great central defender can at times run through the whole of the opposing team (preferably taking the ball with him) and end doing what is supposed to be the forward's job (scoring goals). This does rely on the other players being good enough to cover for him while he is doing it e.g. the great national sides from Holland always play like that and very confusing it is for any mere mortals on the opposing side!
I don't think we can ever agree on this but I know that I could NEVER play football (of either code) myself because I haven't got any of the basic technical skills (or probably the brain power) required. What I love about it all is that attending (or even watching on TV which is definitely second best) a match that 'my' team is playing in means taking a risk that I shall EITHER come away really upset because we have just managed to lose for no discernible reason (see my rant about laughing at last Saturday's events - losing to a team for the first time since 1936 in the most ludicrous manner possible) OR I may come out on Cloud 9 because against all odds we have just won (winning the UEFA Cup Winner's Cup in 1994 when no one gave us a prayer) and that is probably where we are in total agreement?


Thickball!

Post 24

androyd

I also cannot consider something a true sport which at best tolerates and at worst glorifies player on player violence. Ever see the film Rollerball? Thats the way hockey is going -entertainment maybe but not sport.


Thickball!

Post 25

The Nitpicker

I remember seeing Rollerball when it first came out! I was HORRIFIED by the audience response - everyone just got into the matches and was cheering and going generally mental BUT the actual meaning of the film seemed to just go straight over their heads!
In my humble opinion sport should NOT be about violence (hence I loathe and detest boxing) but about skill.


Thickball!

Post 26

Orcus

This thread seems to be drifting into "my sports better than yours smiley - nahnah" Hmm. Close to unsuscibing.

Orcus


Thickball!

Post 27

The Nitpicker

Shucks - there I was thinking that we were coming closer together in agreeing about what we do or do not think a sport is ...


Thickball!

Post 28

Orcus

Actually, I'm still reading. Glad to take part in a conversation like that but that wasn't really the premise that started this thread. Not that the orignial post was entirely honourable mind.
Isn't there a faction of ice hockey players that want to stop 'roughing' etc. (Including the main man in Canada who retired last year, forget his name - Greg something I think) I wonder how many over the pond would still watch it without that though - I suspect there's something of the Colloseum mentality there.
I've got no objection to any sport although I wonder about the definition sometimes. Is a sport such as Ice Dancing really a sport when 'Artistic Merit' is counted? This, imho includes someone's opinion rather than the normal sport thing of being techincally better, stronger or faster than the opposition.


Thickball!

Post 29

The Nitpicker

Rather like some elements of gymnastics?


Thickball!

Post 30

Orcus

Yeah, I had this conversation yesterday with someone in fact. Gymnastics does slip a little into this (rythmic gymnastics particularly). They wanted to know if I regarded dancing as a sport. Sure, it requires technique, stamina and fitness and is physically demanding, but a sport? The jury is out for me I'm afraid.

Gymnastics has to be regarded as a proper sport but it does annoy me when the commentators start talking about whether the music for the floor exercise was entirely appropriate. Does this make their tumbling and balance any worse?


Thickball!

Post 31

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

Hockey and fighting: In the course of this sport, just like any other, people get over-exuberant and start playing too roughly. This can be a danger to the more skilled players on your team. For this reason, every team keeps an "enforcer" on their roster. When a player starts to get out of line, the enforcer gets a couple of shifts against them, and throws a couple of checks into them to sort of send a message. If the message is not well received, a fight ensues.

But since the other team has an enforcer as well, that person will generally go out to meet the opposing enforcer. The two of them usually fight by consent. If that is not the case, one will be heavily penalized as the instigator, and fined by the league.

At any rate, the enforcers protect the star players. If they couldn't do their jobs, the stars would become targets, to the detriment of their health as well as the game. That's why, in spite of the resistance, fighting is still very much a part of hockey.

And, of course, fans really do enjoy it. Enforcers are some of the most popular players on their teams. I wouldn't say the sport is going Rollerball, though... if anything the game is getting *less* violent than it has in the past. Watch a minor-league game sometime and you'll see what I mean.

The last time I talked about what constitutes a sport, I had some jerk flaming me in various forums all over H2G2. I think he got mad because I told him that bowling didn't deserve to be an Olympic sport. I don't recall if it were bowling, but it was something equally silly. I think gymnastics is a sport, but I don't think rhythmic gymnastics are... that's dancing. It's a very graceful and difficult dance, but it's still dancing. Launching yourself off of a pommel horse or flipping around on a balance beam deserves far greater acclaim than flopping around on the floor trailing a piece of ribbon or catching a ball.

Same concept applies to the ice... figure skating=sport. Ice dancing=dance... the name speaks for itself.


Thickball!

Post 32

Dinsdale Piranha

Yeah, I'm with you on the ice dance thing. In fact I have a problem with ANY sport where how well you do depends upon the subjective opinion of someone else.

In football, hockey, rugby, etc., if you score more points/goals than the opposition, you win. There are no extra points for 'style'. In football, the most brillant, skilful goal you can imagine is worth exactly the same as one where a speculative cross gets caught by the wind and just happens to end up in the net.

Running: Carl Lewis was a much more graceful (stylish, if you like) runner than Linford Christie, but in Barcelona Christie got to the line first, so he won (Hurrah, that man!).

Of course, this does mean that I think that lots of established Olympic sports shouldn't be there: Ice skating, diving, ski jumping, judo to name but a few.

This doesn't mean that I don't appreciate their athletic ability, it just means that I think their sport doesn't lend itself to competition, but should just be appreciated for itself, like ballet, which also requires a high level of fitness and technique.


Thickball!

Post 33

Eusebio - squad number 11

Don't knock rhythmic gymnastics ... the gorgeous Gabby Yorath reresented Wales in the Commonwealth Games in rhythmic gymnastics smiley - winkeye


Thickball!

Post 34

Orcus

Ah, so THAT's how she became a football pundit. smiley - winkeye


Thickball!

Post 35

Eusebio - squad number 11

It was a close run thing, as Barry Venison nearly beat her to the top job on account of having nicer hair smiley - winkeye


Thickball!

Post 36

Orcus

Arrrgghhh! Does that mean we'll have either David Ginola or Jason McAteer in the future .


Thickball!

Post 37

The Nitpicker

Jason McAteer What does he have to do with either gymnastics OR nice hair?


Thickball!

Post 38

Orcus

He did a shampoo advert when he was at Liverpool just like Ginola. Can't remember which brand.


Key: Complain about this post

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more