Thursday, February 12, 2009


My uncle recently attended and wrote about the US-Mexico world cup qualifier:

I wrote this email in response, and am reposting it here.

While I certainly hope that soccer replaces American football as the
game to watch, I am not optimistic. Part of that lack of optimism may
be related to the fact that your article made no mention of anything
that actually happened in the game, aside from the 2-0 score.

Maybe that was because you expected everyone reading to know the
game's events, but I suspect that one of the following is true:

1) There was no major, exciting, game-changing event.
2) It is hard to write about or describe the action on the field.

Football and baseball are easy to write about and talk about because
the action is divided into discrete chunks, any of which could cause
an exciting reversal. The state of the game at the beginning of the
play is easily and succinctly described. Soccer is more fluid, and
the state of the game at the beginning of an event can only be fully
described by giving the location, velocity, and direction of the ball
and every player on the field.

While this dynamism makes soccer a superior sport to play, and to
watch with the eye of an expert, it makes it very hard to watch
casually or talk about. The depth of tactics and strategy makes
communication more difficult, even for a sports writer. That
communication difficulty will make it very hard for soccer to reach
the 'tipping point' where it becomes the main social event.

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