Are Soccer Fans Socialist?
By Arnold Kling
My complaint about soccer rules creating too much room for luck drew many comments. People can argue that I am a philistine who does not appreciate the beauty of the sport, and that is fine. The only sport I claim to know anything about is baseball. I dislike sports where you never find professional players whose height or weight is somewhat below average for the population. The only period where I avidly followed football was 1968-70, when the Kansas City Chiefs had a kick returner who was 64 inches tall and weighed about 135 pounds. (I don’t count placekickers.)
When it comes to baseball, tradition matters, but some tinkering with the rules is acceptable. I understand why they had to lower the mound and reduce the strike zone after the 1968 season, for example. So I doubt that soccer is so traditional that it is optimal never to change the rules, although I gladly admit that my opinions should not count, since I know nothing about the sport.
But what surprised me was the reason that many fans defended rules that make it hard to score goals in soccer. Several commenters said that soccer would be boring if the best team always won, which makes the luck factor a good thing.
I agree that it is important for the underdog to have a chance. However, in the sport that I like, the underdog wins by playing better in that particular game or series. The Orioles did not upset the favored Dodgers in 1966 because of an arbitrary call or a bizarre mishap. The O’s outplayed the Dodgers. Clearly.
I have my doubts about the case for giving the better team a high probability of losing due to bad luck just for the sake of making the games more interesting. That seems to me like wanting to tax rich people because you don’t like people to be too successful. It sounds to me like soccer is the road to serfdom.