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Speaking of footy…

Monday, June 28th, 2010

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. 

The refereeing

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.

The cheating

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.

The timing

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. 

The competition

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.

Categories: Entertainment, Sports
  1. victor yancovitch
    Monday, June 28th, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    maybe our legs are too short and it would be embarrassing to watch our team run around with short legs….sorry i couldn’t help it…
    ps…look at those graceful africans!…with those legs they could compete with the dancers at the bolshoi ballet

  2. Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Yup, that must be it: our stubby little legs!

  3. victor yancovitch
    Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    guess i was never a sports fan…but….if i was, i think soccer would be my choice, highlighting skill, opposed to brute force….i love teamwork, which turns a sport into an art…i sometimes enjoyed watching hockey on tv in montreal when i was a kid,(..maurice richard….dicky moore, who i knew…etc.) it was not so violent then…i don’t like the bashing….and it seems that soccer seems more user friendly in that area…anyways, it’s just a thought….and from another ignorant perspective…those super tall basketball players….not fair….they should raise the net :):)
    something to do while were waiting for this great scenery to manifest itself………

  4. Mike (aka Lotus)
    Wednesday, June 30th, 2010 at 9:35 am

    The points you brought up in this blog post are something I’ve wondered about for awhile. As a kid growing up in Vancouver, soccer was always on the go, with lots of leagues and teams, but the climate doesn’t allow for grass fields to be used. The only surface that can survive the constant thrashing from rain (it always rains when you play) and feet was gravel. I’ll tell you, after 4 years of play you get pretty damn tired of coming home with bleeding knees and shins every saturday morning! I don’t really like any sports, but I figure the reason soccer never catches on here is, as you said, a lack of opportunity for growth past the age of 15 or so. I don’t see that growth ever happening actually, for two reasons. One, Canadians generally suck at soccer, and nobody is interested in watching a game we suck at. A chicken and egg problem. Two, it just looks incredibly slow and imprecise compared to hockey, almost lethargic really due to the slower speed of the ball compared to a puck, and the massive field and nets. It’s one of those games that’s fun to play, but not quite as fun to watch I think. After hearing that vuvuzela garbage in South Africa though I have to say that I’m mighty pleased the game isn’t popular here. What an annoying racket! At least “white towel fever” is silent. 😉

  5. victor yancovitch
    Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    yea! for spain……

  6. yancovitch
    Friday, July 30th, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    hope you weren’t away because of work, and rather had a bashing good time! ……signed …patience galore

  7. yancovitch
    Monday, August 9th, 2010 at 6:29 am

    there it was….the patch residence…..i moved silently from tree to tree in the fading lite for fear of betraying my presence if i decided i didn’t have the courage to go through with it…..all was silent…i was safe so far….i stood and stared at the house for a few moments…girded up my loins…took a deep breath, and walked up to the door, and knocked gently, with the knuckle of my index finger….and waited…..sweat started trickling down my forehead and my legs started shaking, but i held my ground…..then i heard footsteps walking to the door, which opened…and there he was…full of confidence and authority as i humbly stuttered…….”do you think it will come out before christmas?”

    • yancovitch
      Monday, August 9th, 2010 at 3:49 pm

      got yer reply thanks….ok…will just forget about it for now…and wait for the surprise when it comes………no expectations…….cheers to you….

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