Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The outstretched leg

Over the last decade I’ve noticed a dangerous trend devolving in football. More and more you see defenders attacking the offensive player’s pass by getting closer and closer to the outstretched leg. This is career ending dangerous, and difficult to police.

Examples of this abound. I think there is a combination of reasons for this problem. There is an ever intensifying, big money pressure on players and managers to produce results. There is a carelessness evolving towards opponents (which is agitated thru retribution), skilled defending is dying, and it’s a way to intimidate opponents.

Referees, match commentators and the footballing press are not giving this situation any voice but I think it’s worth mentioning. Referees should be paying more attention to this growing problem and consider more yellow cards when contact is made.

Often these situations arise when it’s really too late to do anything really useful defensively. Sometimes pressured to defend, players are often bad or halfhearted defenders by nature. A well executed block of a pass or tackle starts with anticipation and poses very little risk to either player using good technique. When you are late it’s often an easy out to strike at the ball as its leaving the opponents foot. This is dangerous.

Defending among most professional sports is a dying art. America’s NBA is now loaded with 18 year old kids with very few fundamental skills. The defending is laughable. It’s forgiven because it’s a high scoring game. Football is not. One mistake in football can turn a game much faster which makes quality defending even more important. As players get younger and younger these techniques don’t have the time to be perfected and you get what you have now: players putting each other at risk because they don’t have the skills to match their will.

I was interviewed recently for sportolysis.com about England’s World Cup hopes. Check it out. Pratuyush has the noble ambition to interview someone from all 32 countries before the cup begins so if you are interested, mail him (email at bottom of interview) and give him a hand.


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Anonymous Pratyush said...

In the Barca-Milan first leg, Ronldinho experienced what you are describing. I was deeply concerned. there was thelook of grimace (from the obvious pain) as he fell.

Now imagine the harm world football would have if Ronaldinho went into a 4 month injury just before the Champions League ending stages and World Cup.

Why Ronaldinho, it can be career threatening for any player. A defender using such a career threatening measure should be suspended for a long period. Yellow/red cards aren't the answer. I will probably blog on this some time later. I am glad you brought it up.

4/20/2006 4:52 AM  

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