Sunday, September 12, 2004

More on Sports

You can like whatever sports you want to like. You can think some sports are stupid, and be passionate about your favorites.

What I don't understand, though, is this irrational declaration by many Americans that sports like soccer are boring. This, from the same people that religiously watch baseball and Nascar. Ok, so perhaps you don't like soccer, but to say that nothing happens is just ludicrous.

Something is always happening in soccer. You may not understand it, but something is always happening. Occasionally play stops for a couple of seconds for a throw-in or free kick, but that's it. The games are 90 minutes long with a 20 minute half-time. So, perhaps 5 minutes of each game is spent with the ball not moving. That means the ball is moving about 95% of the time.

Compare this to baseball. An average professional baseball game lasts just under 176 minutes (2001 stats,). There are an average of about 285 pitches per game, with about 20 hits per game. It takes at most a second for pitch, and maybe 30 seconds (as if there were that much action) per hit. What does that compute to? A whopping 91.6% of the time in a baseball game, people are standing around, scratching themselves, spitting, chewing, and signaling. Think about it, over 90% of the time you're watching 10 or 11 guys (one at bat, one on base) standing around, doing nothing. It's like watching the characters of King of the Hill at the beginning of each show. Life is just passing you by.

What about Nascar? The races are 2-3 hours long, and sure, they're driving the entire time, but what really happens? Not too much, the drivers are generally just drafting, biding their time for someone to make a mistake, going around and around the oval track. Oh - but it's sooo exciting. Right. There are 10-15 lead changes in an exciting race. Wow, that means you'll get a lead change every 12 minutes or so. Damned exciting. At least the Indy cars sometimes race on non-oval tracks, giving you a lot more opportunity for passing and accidents.

Ok, ok, I'm picking on the obvious sports. How about football? In a typical NFL game that has 48 minutes of on-the-clock time only has 12-15 minutes of actual ball movement. That doesn't even count all the stop-time - which makes an NFL game last about 3 hours. Wow, that's ball movement about 7% of the time. During TV coverage for a game, the announcers have enough time in between each play to have complete conversations about other sports, to conduct mini-interviews with players on the field, and to do in-depth analysis of the last few plays. They have to come up with filler to keep you interested in between the plays.

So what makes football/Nascar/baseball "interesting" to people whereas soccer is "boring"? It's knowledge of the game, if you know what to look for and understand the nuances of the game, then the sport is probably interesting. Because, let's face it: Nascar, baseball, and football have almost no activity during the normal course of the game.

I view soccer in the same vein as hockey. Sure, hockey (the U.S.'s 4th sport) is a little more action packed than soccer - mostly because they're on a smaller "field". Hockey scoring is about 2X that of soccer, but it's primarily the same kind of game (minus the fights). You've got plays, lots of passing, defensive zones, etc - all the same things as soccer. But, if you didn't understand hockey, all you would see is people skating around in a bunch, slapping at a puck, and randomly slamming each other into the boards and fighting.

I don't think I'm going to convince anyone that soccer is interesting to watch. I'd just like to try to wake you up into actually thinking about what you are saying when you state, " is boring." All you are really doing is saying, "I'm ignorant. I don't know jack about ."

Don't worry, I won't hold your ignorance against you.


Anonymous said...

You sound bitter! Did someone steal your soccer ball?

BFW said...

I am turning into a bitter old man.

Perhaps it's because someone stole my halloween candy - when I had my biggest take ever!

But nobody ever wanted to steal my soccer ball - it was probably too boring.