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Monday, February 28, 2011

FIFA Improving the World Cup: A Matter of Thinking Outside the Goal

Two things stood out for me in the wake of the World Cup of 2010: the sheer number of low-scoring games and the number of bad calls. The latter is the easier to fix. FIFA can relax its opposition to instant replay even though it is not feasible technologically or financially for every game in the world.  FIFA could simply state that every game in the World Cup is subject to instant replay. The problem of low-scoring games is seemingly more intractable, but actually quite easy to solve.  One possible solution would be to elongate the goal area so it is more difficult to defend.  If that doesn’t work, the area could be heightened—then it would be a matter of skill in kicking the ball in the added area above the defending players’ reach.  The problem lies in the status quo. Even though low-scoring games are more boring, some people would object that too much scoring would get to be boring as well.  There would be a solution for that too, as the goal area could be retracted a bit. In fact, a twenty-first century way of approaching the problem would be to have the goal parameters movable according to a computer program that enlarges the area if there is little or no scoring and retracts it if there has been too much.  Such changes would presumably only be made when the score is tied so not to disadvantage the losing side.  My main point is that we are woefully slow in thinking in terms of the twenty-first century.

 Of course, the stats-oriented fans would object to the problems terms of the consistency of records. To be sure, there is a downside to every improvement.  I contend that improving the enjoyment of the game is worth the interference with comparisons with prior years.  Particularly with regard to sports as a past-time, the primary concern should be the present time. Sadly, the forces of the status quo give today short thrift.  Moreover, change itself, even to improve something, often faces and up-hill battle.  Perhaps this is partly because most people in a position to make changes are old, and thus too used to the way things have been.  The road for change seems to be uphill, with the status quo enjoying hegemony.  My reaction to this is: life is too short. We ought to do what we can to enjoy it more.  With its constant action, soccer, or football, could become a very exciting game.

Related on the World Cup: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/38190556/ns/sports-world_cup/