Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Soccer is stupid

the ball bounces around randomly for about an hour an a half, then suddenly it hits some guy's head and accidentally goes into the net, everybody goes crazy, and somebody's lost really bad and somebody's achieved a great victory.

I love soccer; I think it's the best sport in the world in many ways. But individual results are so staggeringly arbitrary and depend so heavily on luck and the ref I just can't believe people are not more bothered by this.*

Also, given the incentives refs face, it would be a miracle if many of them were not corrupt, and that's not counting the fact that they're likely to behave in systematically flawed ways because of the intensity of the environment. They probably award to few penalties, become less likely to award them if they've already awarded one (same with yellow cards) and probably are influenced by physical intimidation by crowds, players and sometimes coaches. To top it all off, the setup makes many of the calls they make intrinsically uncertain; acting really does make it more difficult to spot fouls and sometimes offside decisions are not possible to make correctly.

Given all these problems there is a ridiculous aversion to using even the simplest of technologies (or simple rule changes) that would help. No sensors to detect if the ball went over the line, no retrospective bans on fakers and no legitimate way to challenge a bad call.

It's insane.

*it pains me a little to say this, but mounting irritation about all this has forced me to accept that it would have been a monstrous miscarriage of justice had Manchester United not won the Premiership (though not the Champions League!). If the best team doesn't win over so many games, I'd really wonder what the point was.


Greg Torr said...

You should view it all as theatre, with the ref one of the main actors.

stuart said...

I'm sympathetic to that, but I can't really go along because

* If I'm right that there are too few penalties and sendings off, then the theater should be more dramatic.

* The premise of the whole thing is fundamentally dishonest because of what people really believe is going on. and people's lives are hugely affected.