What Soccer Can Give and Take from Other Sports

I’ve never been a soccer fan, as you know, but I do love consuming massive quantities of televised sports every year. From the NFL to the NBA to following the Red Sox and the PGA Tour all summer, I’m a sports junkie.

As I’ve consumed World Cup soccer this past month, I’ve picked up on a few things that soccer could be better at, and also a few things other sports could learn from the beautiful game. That’s why I’d like to propose the first ever set of trades between sports. And no, I’m not talking about trading players, I’m talking about trading ideas and concepts.

Sounds crazy? More like crazy awesome. Without further ado, here are five hypothetical trades that would make the sports world a better place.

TRADE #1 – Soccer trades yellow and red cards to basketball in exchange for proper inbounding.

I’ve never understood the “fouling out” rule in basketball. Whether it’s the five you get in college or the six in the NBA, it’s one of the worst rules in all of sports. No one watches games to see referees keep star players off the court! Basketball needs to take a page from soccer and have no limit to the amount of fouls a player can receive. Implement yellow and red cards for egregious fouls, but let players keep playing for the minor infractions. The free throws awarded the other team are penalty enough.

Soccer is a game played exclusively without your arms and hands (unless you’re the keeper) and yet when a ball goes out of bounds, you’re allowed to picked it up and throw it? This is the equivalent of having basketball players kick the ball inbounds instead of passing it like they currently do. Makes zero sense. Kick-ins would line up better with the way the game is played, and as an added bonus, it would essentially turn a throw-in into a valuable set piece from the sideline. Who wouldn’t want this?

TRADE #2 – Soccer trades better celebrations to (American) football in exchange for better fields.

Soccer celebrations are fantastic because anything goes. You want to grab the ball out of the net, go grab that ball. Want to dance with your teammates, slide across the field on your knees, or do a cartwheel? Have at it. Goal celebrations truly do feel like a mini-party. They are a quick two-minute break where these guys, who have been killing themselves to try and score a goal, get to bask in their achievement. Football is slowly making strides in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go before we get to the free-for-all of the soccer goal celebration..

Can we do something to spruce these soccer fields up? I can turn on an American football game and instantly know who the home team is because of how the end zone and center of the field are painted. I turn on a soccer game and the pitch looks EXACTLY like every other pitch in existence. How about some logos inside the center circle? How about treating the penalty area like an end zone and splashing some color in there? There’s literally nothing on the field except for a few white painted lines. Make your fields as colorful and exciting as your celebrations, soccer!

TRADE #3 – Soccer trades better dressed managers to baseball in exchange for a prime time game.

Can we all agree that baseball managers wearing baseball uniforms is one of the silliest things in all of sports? Even the German team’s manager in his form fitting navy tee looked better than these baseball clowns. Time to put the costumes away fellas. Put on your big boy pants (literally) and maybe a dress shirt and jacket while you’re at it.

The Premier League is trying to take over Saturday mornings and early afternoon, but we Americans love a good 8 pm ET tilt to watch as we unwind from a long day. Sunday Night baseball has been a staple on ESPN for decades, so how about Tuesday night soccer? I realize that asking for this means asking for a Premier League game to be played at 2 am local time, but they’re grown men. They can sleep in on Wednesday.

TRADE #4 – Soccer trades comfy bench seats to hockey in exchange for penalty boxes.

Have you seen the benches these soccer players sit on? They look like leather seats ripped out of a BMW M-series. And why shouldn’t they? These are highly-paid, elite athletes. In America, hockey players on the bench are sitting on…a literal wooden bench. (Other sports aren’t much better. Yes, I’m looking at you basketball, with your padded folding chairs.) These athletes are coddled and pampered in every other area of their lives, let’s treat them like kings on the bench too!

The yellow and red card system is nearly perfect, but what would make it just a touch better would be borrowing hockey’s penalty box system. If each yellow card came with 5-minute stint in the the penalty box, it might create more offensive attacks as teams try capitalize on having a short man advantage. As an added bonus, it would also give the sideline ref with the digital clock / substitution board something else to do. I feel bad for that guy.

TRADE #5 – Soccer trades relegation to every sports league in exchange for acting tougher.

Relegation is, by far, the best thing about the Premier League (and most other major soccer leagues around the world). Finish in the bottom three out of the twenty teams and you are moved down to a lower league. Every sports league in the U.S. should figure out a way to make this happen, especially the NBA, which has a major tanking problem right now that they are scrambling to address. And it would help the NFL too—Cleveland Browns fans, you’ve been put on notice.

Flopping is, by far, the thing that annoys American non-soccer fans the most about the beautiful game. Neymar has not helped the case in this World Cup, providing enough footage for a thousand memes of him rolling around on the ground like he’s been shot. Baseball players that take a 98-mph heater in the small of the back walk to first like nothing has happened. Hockey players lose teeth and stay in the game. Football players literally crush each other on every play and pop right back up. If soccer players dropped the act, a lot more Americans would find the game more palatable.

What do you think? Would these trades make the sports world a better place?

If you have your own idea for sports trades that need to happen, share them here!

“Statistics are like miniskirts: They give you good ideas but hide the important things”

Ebbe Skovdahl, Former Dutch manager

Bryan Allain has spent 41 years of his life ignoring soccer in favor of the Red Sox and golf, the REAL beautiful game. (His words not ours). This is the account of his 30-day, all in, deep dive on the premier showcase of the most popular sport on earth, the 2018 World Cup.