As expected, this summer's World Cup sparked a lot of interest among Americans, but perhaps at least as importantly, it compelled untold numbers of us to at least respect the sport for what it is, rather than retreat to the ill-conceived tropes we have a history of bandying about.
One of the most common criticisms we make about soccer is that there are too many draws. Well, now FIFA president Sepp Blatter is saying that ties may be scrapped in future World Cup group stage matches. This is disastrous news for non-World Cup fans, as they may end up with one less weapon in their arsenal of complaints.
Let's visit the list and see what there still is to complain about.
There are too many ties! If it's a game, then there has to be a winner!
As noted, FIFA is discussing the possibility of adding sudden death and/or shootouts to ensure there will be no more ties in group matches.
It's on the other side of the world? How am I supposed to get up at 6 in the dang-damn morning to watch the matches?
Just for you, FIFA is holding the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which is only one-to-two-hour difference from Eastern time.
Why can't you use your hands? It isn't natural!
Consider all the two-goal sports. Soccer, in a sense, is the most "natural," since the in-game rules that have a major impact on the sport are largely limited to handballs, offside calls, and dangerous plays. Stack this up against football, where linemen must touch their fingers to a very particular spot on the field before the snap, and the quarterback cannot pass the ball forward if he passes an invisible line, or a punt can only be recovered by Team A once Team B touches it. Or basketball, in which fouls are called a billion times more frequently than in soccer, and phantom fouls aren't uncommon. Which of these is more natural? What do we mean by "natural," anyway? It's something worth considering, at least.
There isn't enough scoring!
Whatever floats your boat, really. It's worth noting that goals are rare in soccer because scoring a goal is very, very hard to do against a world-class team, just as it can be very, very hard to score a run against the likes of, say, Roy Halladay.
My finger hurts!
FIFA is sorry. You may want to take some over-the-counter pain relief medication or, if appropriate, apply an antiseptic and loosely wrap it in gauze. If trouble persists, please consult a medical professional.
Vuvuzelas are annoying!