Tag Archives: football

Soccer in American Football Terms: Offside

It has come to that time of year where many American football* fans are without a team to root for until the Super Bowl when they hope for good commercials.  If you are a soccer fan and have a football fan in your life who is interested in learning about soccer, then I have some tips below.  (NOTE: Do not try to convert the unwilling football fan.  Save your energy for the father-in-law who has grand-kids that play.  Trying to convert the uninterested usually backfires.)

The most incomprehensible thing about soccer to most football fans that I’ve spoken to is the offside rule.  Luckily there is a pretty easy way to convey the concept using football terms.  The key is to take the rule that they already understand and tweak it to help them understand the soccer equivalent.  If you’re not a football person, you might first need to brush up your understanding of the carrying game first.

Offside in football is a foul in which a player is on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. This foul occurs simultaneously with the snap. Unlike offensive players, defensive players are not compelled to come to a set position before the snap.

FootballOverheadScrimmage

In soccer there is no line of scrimmage nor a “snap” of the ball.  Since the ball is almost continuously in play, the rule is a bit harder to police but understanding is all that we’re aiming for now.  First of all, only offensive players can be called offside and only in their offensive half of the field (nearest the goal they intend to score on).  The line for offside is not a fixed yard line but rather it moves with the last defender** equivalent to the defensive position of safety. (See Below)

FootballOverheadSafety

So since the ball is almost always in play, offensive players are moving around and can even cross the offside line.  A call of offside is made when an offensive player is in an offside position and the ball is played toward him or her.  In football terms, the wide receiver cannot run past the invisible yard line of the safety until the ball is thrown by the quarterback.  So the timing of streak (go), post and corner routes need to be timed very well.  If the ball is not passed before the intended receiver gets by the “safety”, he’ll be offside.  Curl and comeback routes can be effective in keeping a player onside.  But if he is offside at the time of the pass, receiving the ball in an offside position doesn’t matter (like a defensive lineman who tries to jump back as the ball is snapped).

FootballOnside
The Receiver on the 15 yard line is onside at the time of the pass.
FootballOffside
The player in the end-zone is offside because he’s beyond the last defender at the time of the pass.

The player possessing the ball cannot be offside.  So a player can dribble through the offside line.  Therefore if the quarterback or running back carry the ball forward, they are not offside.

 

That pretty much sums it up.  If I’ve missed anything, please leave it in the comments below and I’ll adjust it.  Pass this information along to a football fan that cares to learn.

* I don’t like using the term American football but I do it to avoid confusion.  I also dislike using one sport to explain another but have done this

**This statement is partially false.  The last defender needs to have the goalkeeper behind them.  This is something that soccer fans and even referees get wrong from time to time.  Two defenders (one usually being the goalkeeper) need to be between the offender and the goal line.  If the goalkeeper goes out of the goal a far distance, one defender is not enough to keep an offensive player onside.

The Championship Photo

ChampionshipPhotoIn this country and around the world Champions are lauded for their accomplishments.  Usually the scene of victory is filled with a trophy to be kissed, confetti falling, champagne popping and players/fans rejoicing.  The reason that this scene is so easy to recreate in one’s mind is that it is pervasive throughout sport.  Depending on the particular sport, one could be even more specific about the scene.  Regardless of which championship is one there is an invisible specter that is ever-present but has seemingly been forgotten by many who are watching.  The fruits of the labor are on full display but the labor often gets overlooked.  In a world where instant gratification is becoming more of the norm will we be seduced by the empty triumph of getting the small reward now or choose the labor that creates real results?  The answer is that both will happen.

There will be many people who get swept up in the power of the “Now Economy”.  They will take the short term rewards and overlook some of the long term consequences.  It is not a surprising phenomena that people take the easier path.  On a biochemical level, our reward system is easily seduced by the immediate regardless of its hollowness.  It takes time and training to override this system.

The greatest of all time were able to train themselves to be long term greedy.  Rather than giving in to the temptation of the moment, they put in the work now in order to reap the benefits later.  Often that was months or even years later.  The prize at the end may have been what drove them but the process of attaining greatness is won daily.

Each of us has the power within to choose.  There probably won’t be a championship trophy at the end for most of us.  Our accomplishments won’t be on ESPN.  It will almost all happen on the inside.  The triumph will be over self and circumstance with only a few fans (friends and family) there to celebrate.  Will you be able to hold your head high based on what you have done?  Or will you be looking down at the path of shortcuts that you took to run yourself in circles?  You have the power to choose and you’re choosing right now.  Choose wisely!

Pete

 

An American Soccer Manifesto (Part 1)

lukesoccerSoccer in the United States is gaining undeniable momentum in American culture.  While the progress of the sport in this country has been slow, its impact is becoming more widespread.  Through the various parts of this “Manifesto”, I will plead a case for the reasons for the proliferation of the sport and the impacts on the country at large.  Physical, social, psychological and philosophical outcomes can be reaped through the more widespread acceptance of soccer as a national force.  It may be a difficult argument to the general public because as Tom Weir of USA Today wrote in 1993, “Hating soccer is more American that apple pie.”  While this sentiment may be changing, a deep dive into the facets of a transition is in order.

History

The history of the kicking game has been chronicled at length by others.  Therefore my historical narrative will not be about the development of the game in the country but rather a juxtaposition of our historically American sports’ positive impacts on the country at large.

Despite baseball being considered the “National Pass Time”, American football has largely been the dominant sport of the past century.  This is due in large part to the sport developing during the emergence of the US as a world power while also sharing the American ethos of progress.  Football (American Football)* served the country well in the 20th century as it ingrained ideals that were instrumental during the manufacturing age.  The ideals of teamwork, coordination and positional hierarchy ran deep within the factory system and football.  Plans and decisions were centralized to management and passed down for execution by the line.  Statistics are used to track progress, performance and predict the emergence of talent.  The school, industrial and sports models of the 20th century complimented each other in structure and values.  Therefore football, baseball and basketball became dominating forces in the sports landscape of the United States.  Their appeal was compounded because of the community component and inherent aspiration of the team.  Professional sports teams created a sense of belonging to cities or regions.  High schools fed players and students into colleges.  Colleges fed players into professional leagues and students into jobs.  The systems worked almost seamlessly for a long time.

Identity Crisis (My independent film about soccer’s place in the US)

Times Change

Nostalgia is a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.  While nostalgia may feel good and there may be good reason to long for times past, the present is the only place where we truly exist.  The past cannot be recreated.  While this may seem sad due to things that are perceived as “lost”, there are many gains that have come from that passage of time.  So where are we now?

factoryAs we progress even further into a new century and millennium, several of the rigid systems of the past are crumbling under the pressure of technology and the democratization of information.  The old systems are being replaced for the very same reasons that they thrived a century ago.  Cheap/efficient labor, mechanization, standardization and a consumer culture brought forth prosperity to the US.  Now, cheap labor is found elsewhere or replaced entirely by machines.  Standardizing of products has made many of them generic where cost and convenience become the most sought features rather than quality and craftsmanship.  The model of consumerism has left many bankrupt financially, depressed emotionally and weighed down physically.  The mantra “that’s the way we’ve always done it!” is the calling card of those primed for a fall to irrelevance or extinction.

The new economy of the United States is a connection economy that no longer depends on exclusively on commodity production but rather the unification of resources with opportunity.  Entrepreneurship is not a buzzword of the silicon valley.  It is an integral component of the new American economy that requires a more nimble approach to business.  Bigger is not particularly better.  Growth is not particularly the marker of success as people are often creating lifestyle businesses to balance work and life.

entreprenThe traditional American sports do not fit as effectively into this new economic paradigm.  The industrial model of tracking productivity in order to become more efficient in the name of progress does not hold.  The measure of a good worker in the new economy is not a mindless cog that produces more than the other cogs.  It requires a mixture of technical ability mixed with the emotional intelligence to make decisions based on varying factors.  In the traditional American sports, these decisions were made solely by the coach, quarterback or point guard.  Most other players were doing their assigned job as a part of an orchestrated unit.  Divergence from the rules of the system was not desirable.  The new economy needs more decision makers rather than rule followers.

This new system is more in line with the processes of soccer.  Eleven people working toward a common goal with principles in mind rather than plays.  Each individual must analyze what they see in front of them and decide what to do next.  Although there are statistics available in soccer, they do not particularly indicate good or poor performance.  The intricacies of the game are human.  There is a balance between pushing toward a goal while not overextending to the point of being exposed defensively.  While there is a coach with a certain amount of control, the players and their decisions are the key components to the performance of the team.

The individual has greater power to impact the world than ever before in history.  Our games, systems and education should be centered around the improvement of the decision making faculty while maintaining an empathetic compass.  Realizing how our individual decisions impact the rest of our team, community and world is a skill that needs to be developed in the generations to come.  Although soccer is implicitly a sport, there are components to its play that can have a greater societal impact.  This is not at the exclusion of the other sports but in addition to them.  The 20th century American ethos has a place in the amalgamation of our future as a nation.  It is through our diversity that much of our strength comes.

*From here on, I will refer to American Football as Football and International Football as soccer.  I’m sure this will upset someone somewhere but it is not my intention to please everyone but be as clear to as many people as possible.

Soccer for the 21st Century

The 20th Century of the United States was largely dominated by an industrial economy.  The US rode the wave of the industrial revolution into prominence on the world stage.  Factories flourished thanks to interchangeable parts and largely interchangeable people.  Most workers in the 20th Century were able to earn a substantial living by doing simple repetitive tasks under the orders of their bosses.

In this system, it is no wonder that the sport of the century was Football.  In so many ways, football was representative of the American way.  It was progressive.  Moving forward was success and moving backward was failure.  It mirrored our historical land acquisition with its own “land acquisition”.  The decisions were made by a few bosses and executed by largely  interchangeable people.  The sport was the perfect corollary for the industrial age and both served the country well in their time.

Now that the industrial age has passed and we have moved into what many are calling the “Connection Economy”.  The people who create value in the market place are not interchangeable cogs in a vast machinery.  Cogs can be replaced, automated or outsourced to other countries.  True value in the modern economy is created by an individual whose contributions are irreplaceable and unique.

This change begs for a different representation in sport.  The football model of “run the play” holds little value when the rules of the game change so quickly.  Soccer’s flexibility and subjectivity require that players deal with complex problems and must make individual decisions for the betterment of the collective.  Since each player is a decision maker, principles rather than directives are the dictating forces.  No one person is in control.  Therefore players must learn to control themselves and direct themselves in an uncertain environment.

The beautiful game will become “America’s Game”.  It is just a matter of time.