Speaking of footy…
Often it’s considered that association football (soccer) is not a big deal in Canada. But I remember even as a kid in the Montreal suburb of Beaconsfield that there were 100 organized teams in a population of 20,000. I think though that once kids reached a certain age opportunities vanished for growth, or interest went elsewhere. Hence the fact that Canada has only once made the World Cup (1986) and was eliminated in the first round.
So what is there about soccer that appeals/does not appeal here?
The lack of scoring
I don’t think this is a big factor, the superb ball-handling, er ball-footling, skills of the players are amazing, as is the playmaking.
It’s almost impossible for even a good referee with his assistants to see the details of every move, especially with the rampant theatrics (see cheating, below). But there’s a danger of assuming that a fair outcome is what is intended. Questionning calls adds an element of spice and controversy that I’m sure inspires much post-game discussion. With such a low-scoring game, a single bad call can determine the outcome. So perhaps the emphasis in the sport is more on adding excitement than having the best team win. If fairness was important, they’d have replay reviews, even if it did slow the pace of the game somewhat. So, if it’s the dynamic discussions after the game and in-game arguments at the pub you like, give a bonus to the game for this. If you prefer a more meaningful outcome, the game misses the ball on this one.
All sports have fakery, but the blatant and transparent trickery of so many of the players is hardly sportsmanlike, and makes the players look like pansies. This I’d guess is a big turnoff here for anyone new to the game. The commentor’s lame excuses of “it’s all part of the game” and “all teams do it” are just a further turnoff. Big minus for the game.
Compared to the anal retentive pseudo accuracy of the timing for games like hockey and basketball (where tenths are second are meaninglessly counted towards the end), the playful and vague way the game is timed, with the referee throwing a mental die to determine added/stoppage/injury time is a refreshingly relaxed approach. And I like the fact that they don’t whistle down a play in mid-flight, the referee will blow his whistle at a lull at whim. Add that to the almost continous play, and you can score points for footy on this one.
Commercial interruption in broadcasts
The playing time is not interrupted with TV commercials in Canada and the US. Yum.
In Canada, our version of football, hockey and baseball (and to a lesser degree basketball and a myriad of other sports) are well entrenched. And when that’s what Canadians grow up with, that’s likely what’s familiar and comfortable.
But if that’s the case then since so many kids play soccer here, why isn’t it more popular? The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation thinks it is, carrying as many as 16 World Cup-related programs per day, including up to five games on two networks.
But I wouldn’t expect to see Canada winning the World Cup soon.