Monday, June 26, 2006

Shot Through the Heart


The World Cup has been exciting to this point, but it has also been extremely annoying. Referees have been quick with the cards for fouls and there have been a few examples of the referees actually deciding the outcome of games (I'm sure the Australian team wouldn't mind meeting up with the ref from today's game in a dark alley). I think yesterdays call in the Australia game highlights the need for more than one referee on the field. It's ridiculous to think that one man is going to be in position to police all the action on the pitch. I know that he has linesmen for offsides and out of bounds calls, but it is the referees responsibility to cover the rest of the field.

Hockey games take place on a surface which is tiny by comparison and yet there are 3 officials on the ice at all times, plus a replay official. Imagine having only one umpire for a baseball game. He would be responsible for balls and strikes and all calls on the bases and in the outfield. It goes without saying that he would be out of position for some of the calls. Referees in soccer have to cover a massive field and are supposed to be in position to make every call. It's just not humanly possible. Game officials are human and they are going to make mistakes. The World Cup is pressure packed, not just for the players but for the officials as well. Given the pressure, the added problem of the heat in Germany and the amount to space they are being asked to cover, there is no doubt that mistakes are going to be made. And mistakes at this level cause countries to lose games.

The other major annoyance at the World Cup is the flopping by players. I don't know how many times I've watched a player go down like he was shot, writhe in pain on the ground for a couple of minutes, get carried off on a stretcher and then come back into the game two seconds later. It's amazing that this is part of the game. As a player is tackled and starts to go down, he has to decide which part of his body he's going claim is in danger of being amputated. The problem is that refs will reward this ridiculous behavior by giving a foul or even a yellow card based on the level of perceived injury. It's a joke. Refs should hand out many more yellow cards for acting injured. They do have the power to give out cards for unsportsman like play and they should use that power more often. In fact if they just made it a rule that if you get carried off on a stretcher then you could not return to the game, I believe the acting would be cut to a minimum.

The US team was actually penalized because they are not a flopping team. Watch the Italians play a game and you will see more go down as if they were shot than in an actual war zone. I'm sure the game would be more appealing to Americans if they would curtail this ridiculous activity. Imagine how long it would take to complete a football game if every play produced 10 or 12 players down on the field complaining like someone had cut their Achilles tendon.

Let's cut out the acting and get more officials on the field and I think you'd have a better game.

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