I know a ton of soccer enthusiasts (myself included) but I don’t know anyone who is happy with the World Cup Quadrennial championship being decided by a shoot-out. That is exactly what happened last Sunday with Italy taking the 2006 trophy from France due to one better penalty kick while 20 of the 22 players on the field stood at midline watching. It’s like deciding the NFL’s Super Bowl winner with a pass, punt and kick competition rather than from the line of scrimmage.
I have a suggestion for FIFA. There are 23 players on a World Cup roster. Eleven start the game and substitutions are limited to three. That means that a maximum of only 14 of 23 World Cup soccer players can see action on game day; nine are glued to the bench. In the future, FIFA should continue the status quo 90 minutes of regulation play and if still tied, 30 minutes of additional play. If still tied (as happened last Sunday in Berlin), continue playing but with free substitutions – each team has nine fresh players to help decide the winner and sooner or later someone will score. Make the first goal scored in “unlimited substitution extended overtime” a “golden goal” so everyone goes home after a soccer team wins by actually playing soccer.
Stateside there is a another giant sport that needs help. I cannot think of a more macho group of men than the drivers of NASCAR who muscle their two-ton machines around the super speedways. Yet these brawny men are afraid of nature’s little tiny rain drops – NASCAR refuses to race in the rain. Are we talking about the elephant and the mouse? NASCAR’s embarrassment is exacerbated by the fact that the Formula One circuit does race in the rain, snow, sleet and hail. Is safety the issue? In Formula One, everyone dons rain tires and like the rest of us, slows down to adjust for road conditions. The same should become the standard for NASCAR. Since NASCAR tracks are banked they must have great drainage. And slower speeds means that the safety equipment margins would be increased by rain racing, not decreased.
The sports world would be a better place if soccer players kept playing soccer and NASCAR racers kept racing.