Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Offside Rule

One curious thing I've noticed is how often we know so little about what we do.

The past month I've been helping out coaching the kid soccer (U-8) team on which a friend's son plays defense. I don't pretend to be a good coach of the game in general but I do know goalkeeping and defense tactics, so I've been helping out with the 'keepers. Goaltending is tenuous at the kid level - it requires a level of concentration you just don't have at seven or eight. I'm pleased when my little goalies just remember to focus on stopping shots, never mind the game tactics.But as a bye-the-bye I tend to get volunteered to run the line at the kiddo games.

Linesman (I despise the "referee's assistant" term that FIFA now insists on. You judge the sideline, you're a linesman) is really a simple job about 95% of the time. You watch the play and assess who was last in contact with the ball when it goes into touch (i.e. over the side line).

It's the final 5% that seems to give most soccer parents and volunteer coaches trouble, and that's calling Offside.Soccer "offside" is a VERY judgement call. But the fundamentals of running the line aren't. You need to be level with the last defender, you need to watch both the lead attacker AND the player with the ball. You need to know the Laws of the Game.

I'm always amazed at the number of volunteer linesmen who loiter about the midfield stripe, who fail to make the call when one of the kiddos is clearly offside, or who don't know the simple facets of the rule, like the fact that there is no offside on a throw-in or a corner kick.It has always seemed to me (at least since I got old enough to understand the connection) incumbent on a person interested in anything, whether it be sport or politics or lovemaking, to learn all that he or she can about the thing in order to be the most adept, the most creative, the best informed about it, and the best - in terms of satisfying themselves and those involved with them - at whatever it is.That often doesn't seem to be the case. And it makes me wonder; why?


Lisa said...

Why don't we "learn ... to be the most adept, the most creative, the best informed about it, and the best - in terms of satisfying themselves and those involved with them - at whatever it is."

That is a big question. Why are some calls not made? Perhaps we don't wish to offend, or we hope that we'll be cut the same slack because we might be ineffective, or inclined to cheat.

But why not commit to something with full force? "Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it" (Scottish Himalaya Expedition, Murray). Why do we know so little about what we do? Well, we have a built-in eject if things don't work out. Humans don't like to be embarrassed, and failure often causes this.

Perhaps it is the pot of gold phenomenon: One day, I will be presented with an opportunity which is just-so, and it will bring out all my innate excellence. It involves projection and anticipation, with an ever-receding future. This is why religion is such a balm, for we all be made whole and perfect one day, presto chango.

I am still open to thoughts on the matter ...

FDChief said...

Lisa: I think you have the right of it. We are monkeys, and as such always tempted by the slothful, easy fruit hanging from the lowest branch. Whether that fruit is the ripest and the best? Enh...good enough for government work.

Plus, as you say, there is the fear of failure. And the siren call of popular culture that tells us that to work too hard and to know too much is to be a nerd, a grind, a swot, a sellout and a brownnoser. So much better to just slide easily into whatever half-assed means of half-succeeding and run with it.

God forbid that we should ever choose to do one or two things REALLY well...

Lisa said...

Commitment -- it seems so difficult for some people. I cannot help but think it is ego and the fear of failure, but nothing really excellent will come of dilettantism. It seems the rush of the moment is good enough for most, as they hop like happy chimps off to the next thrill du jour.

It makes me said when I think on it -- the potential vs. the reality,

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
--The Hollow Men, Eliot