Posted by: thebylog | July 1, 2010

Why a 0-0 World Cup Match is More Exciting than 90% of “American” Games

Americans like to bang on soccer. It’s boring, too low-scoring, overrun by boorish hooligan-fanatics, yada yada yada.

But here’s the thing, World Cup games more often pass my “heart-pounding test” than NFL games or NBA playoff games.

I usually use my “heart-pounding test” to assess how much I like certain board games, like Settlers of Catan or Acquire. When my heart pounds like crazy at some point during the course of the contest, I know I really like it.

And when I apply the same test to sporting events, the World Cup beats the socks off of the NBA playoffs.

People say that the lack of scoring in soccer is a weakness. But I actually find the opposite to be true. In what other sport is there such tension for so much of the game? Since so much of the game is spent with the score so close, excitement is generated by the fact that at any moment, a game-changing play might occur.

In the NBA or NFL, scoring happens so frequently that only at the end of a tight game is the same level of competitive interest reached.

World Cup soccer works because the muted scoring rate a) results in more close games, and b) heightens the drama throughout the whole game since a game-changer could happen anytime.



  1. Oh Byran, I know you pry figured you could get a rise out of me with this post, and if that was your intent you certainly succeeded. First off, I think that the World Cup is fairly entertaining going by the hand full of matches I have watched. However, I think that the Wold Cup and soccer in general are sort of different. If soccer is such heart-pounding entertainment, why do you only watch it every four years when the would cup rolls around. Second, while the low scoring does create tension throughout the entire game, the fact that ties can be a good thing leads to teams just playing keep away when the game is tied so they can advance out of group play. Seriously, any time a big time tournament has games that regularly end in ties is downright ridiculous. Go to penalty kicks for the entire tournament. Those are the most exciting anyway. I do agree that it is a shame that so many NBA playoff games are anti-climactic, but when you do have a good basketball game that goes back and forth and is decided in the last few seconds. Not even your bicycle kick in extra time is beating that.

  2. Stu gives us a few good reasons why soccer is incredibly lame:

  3. I will only press my argument with respect to the World Cup, not soccer in general.

    From my observation, teams in the group stage of the World Cup play keepaway much less often than basketball or football teams do when they have a lead to preserve. Unless it is the final game of the group stage and a tie will move you through, everyone wants the 3 points for a win instead of a tie.

    Ties in the World Cup are very exciting up to the final second, though I would agree that the end result is not completely satisfying.

    Since I prefer basketball and American football to soccer purely as competitive constructions, I would agree that if there is a back-and-forth tight game, I would prefer the basketball or American football. However, World Cup games are more consistently exciting.

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