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November 21, 2009 7:15 AM

A hands-on fix to boring soccer

henry.jpgOK, enough already about this Ireland-France soccer match that everybody's so worked up about over here. It is my fondest hope that close to nobody's worked up about it over there.

Here we are staring down the barrel of a big weekend of football, and we got a couple of lads in here last night arguing about whether this French dude, Henry (pronounced, on-ree, and pictured above)  should be drawn and quartered, or simply castrated for touching the soccer ball with his hand.

If you haven't heard about all this, bless you. Your path in life is obviously all wine and roses. It's an honor to meet you, but what the heck are you doing in a place like the Grill Room?!

So here's the play that is slowly leading to a march-up to war between the two nations. We have learned this morning, though, that France already has its surrender strategy in place should all this come to anything more than just big words.

Look, one of the things that makes the United States the greatest country on earth, is that we haven't fallen for this charade that soccer is the greatest game on earth.
Admittedly, we can't seem to elect a president worth a damn, but we are pretty good at entertaining ourselves properly.

More than that, when one national pastime, baseball, wasn't cutting it anymore, we simply put another, football, in its rightful place. Survival of the fittest, baby -- except, of course, where American's body-fat is concerned, but that's another story, too...

Soccer's boring, and everybody, including its hard-core fans, know it. They also know that admitting that publicly would make them some sort of heretic. So they live in their heads, quaff their pints, and feign interest in a game played to the droning beat of 1-0.

And you wonder why there is more violence and deaths blamed on raucous soccer fans than even the NRA? Watch enough 1-0 games over the course of your lifetime, and see what it does to you. Trust me, it isn't pretty.

I'd argue, and did last night with the chaps, that the game would be far better if players were allowed to use their hands.
That could lead to, God forbid, 5-4 games...7-6 games...why you might even witness a game in which 10 goals are scored by one team!
It might even start resembling American football, of which there are millions of closet fans over here.

But since the rest of the world is bound and determined to live in their closets and the 12th century where this awful game is concerned, we'll offer a simple fix to avoid controversy like this in the future: use replay when, and only when, a goal is in question.

This might might mean replay is used once every seventh game or so. Nobody, and I mean nobody, could argue that if replay had been in place in the France-Ireland tilt, the goal would have been disallowed, and you have no controversy.

But controversy, not goals, is what this broken game is really about, isn't it? Just keep 'em talking good, bad or otherwise about the broken sport. Do that, and there's no time to focus on those subtle on-field nuances that collaborate to produce that sleep-inducing 1-0 beat.     

While washing beer glasses last night, I heard some authoritative chap with a proper British accent on ESPN getting all wound up, and arguing, get this... are you ready?
He argued that replay would slow the game down if implemented!

I only heard him, so I can't tell if he actually said that with a straight face.
You do see what we're dealing with here, though.

(Associated Press photo)

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