If basketball can change, so can soccer

Brazil World Cup Penalty Kicks

The Brazilian team waiting for the outcome of a penalty kick in the World Cup 2014.

I never made a 3-point shot in high school basketball, but that’s because all my adolescent field goals were 2 points in the 1980s.  I’m not complaining, though.  At the time, I had never watched professional basketball and never missed the 3 pointer, which was added into the NBA rule in 1979.  As an adult, however, I appreciate the pro-league rules that reward the long buckets.  Not only does the 3-point add excitement, but man-to-man defense and shot clock offense move the game along.  Fans like to see scoring, and basketball delivers.

However, my heart and playing years belong to soccer.  I suppose the outdoor sport suited me better, a blend of power and grace that matched my lower body strength and agility.  Yet, as I watch professional soccer, my enthusiasm sport for the sport wanes.  Where are the goals?  Little kids score more goals than the professionals!

As I watched World Cup 2014 matches that ended in a penalty kick tie-breaker, I wondered why there was no commentary about how something had to change.  Sports lovers have shouted about the “Bowl” system in college football for years, demanding an NCAA football tournament for years to determine the “real” best team.  Why isn’t a penalty kick resolution for a world cup match deserving of the same condemnation as the controversial Bowl system?  If people wanted to watch penalty kicks, then soccer teams should be 6 people, 5 shooters and a goalie, plus a couple of subs.  I can’t imagine the masses filling up a stadium or a worldwide television audience clamoring to see five split-second shots that pit two players against one another while the rest of the team prays for each outcome.  Why not give soccer fans what they want?–Goals!

There are probably a number of fixes to this problem, but I’m an advocate of a bigger goal area.  Professional, male goalies are so big, they can cover a huge portion of the goal.  Make the goal a lot larger than their height and reach, and more balls are sure to blast into the back of the net.  Barring that fix, take the goalies out of the game at the end of regulation and don’t let a defender in the penalty area until the ball gets there.  More offense, more excitement!

I never made it to the (women’s) World Cup, but I would sure hate to put in all that work and lose on penalty kicks.  10 players deserve to determine the outcome of a World Cup match a lot more than one goalie guarding a tiny goal.






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