Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Don't Call It Football

The Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer have signed David Beckham for $250 million in hopes of boosting the game’s popularity in the U. S. But, like the signing of Brazilian star Pelé by the New York Cosmos in the 1970s, I suspect the Beckham acquisition will also turn out to be a colossal waste of money.

Think for a minute. What names do you recognize in that first sentence? If you’re like me, not likely the Los Angeles Galaxy or Major League Soccer. And the only reason you’re probably familiar with David Beckham at all is because he’s married to Posh Spice. And why? Because soccer is boring.

If Major League Soccer wants to attract American fans to the game, it can easily do so and for a lot less money than Mr. Beckham is getting. League officials just have to make a few minor changes to accommodate the fans.

First of all, stop calling it football. It’s not football. Football is the Cowboys versus the Giants and Florida versus Ohio State. This game is soccer.

Next, they might want to consider putting more lines on the field so everyone can tell where the players are. Horizontal, parallel lines every five yards or so would definitely help pinpoint the action.

Personally, I’d like to see the players get some helmets and padding. From the few video replay clips of soccer collisions I’ve seen, some of these guys appear to be in excruciating pain.

Another suggestion is to let one team have the ball for more than twenty seconds. Just a thought but why not let each team have four tries to make ten yards? If they do then they get four more tries. Then at least there’s some continuity in the game.

Stop the clock once in a while and let the players have a rest. And TV fans at home would definitely appreciate the chance for a snack or washroom break. The league could even split each half into two quarters to allow for more TV ad time.

One thing that definitely has to change is the offsides rule. No one here understands it. Why not let both teams line up and call that the offsides line or, say, the line of scrimmage?

Finally, let the players use their hands. It would sure open up the game if they could pass and catch the ball. And if they have to kick it, how about some posts at either end they could kick the ball through for a point or three?

Now if Major League Soccer could implement these minor changes, I’m sure Americans would come out to the games in droves. And at that point, I doubt anyone would even care if they still called it football.

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