Arsene is right; the EPL should stop trying to sacrifice virgins

"Really, it's this big!"

Watching Arsene battle with the English press and culture about protecting players sounds like someone trying to explain to a Hollywood movie tribe that sacrificing a virgin will not make it rain. The response by a bunch of second rate managers is stupefying. Their defense is classic, if absurd: “[soccer] is a contact sport.” Sounds like: “If burn her, rain come.” Or in reality, the EPL must sacrifice a player’s career, ideally a young one, to appease the football gods. This is life. This is the law. There is no other truth. Since when did the EPL become a cult? And why is England putting up with this nonsense?

As an American this is funny to hear. I love soccer. I played it growing up and play today. But I don’t consider it a real contact sport. American football is a contact sport. Rugby is a contact sport. Even hockey and basketball, to some extent, are contact sports. Football, proper football that is, is not a contact sport. Is it any shock England hasn’t won anything since ‘66? The cult of the contact sport shadows all!!!

Football as a contact sport.

Arsenal's new wall against free kicks???

First let’s put to pasture the idea that football is a contact sport. Yes, of course contact can occur. But contact is not part and parcel of the game like it is in American football, rugby or even hockey and basketball.

Please don't hurt me!

Why? Because you don’t practice hitting people in soccer. Or at least you shouldn’t. American football and rugby practice hitting players. Contact is what they do; it’s a state of play. It’s not just a tactic to go out and be physical with a team, and pretend your tough. Sure sometimes when you sacrifice a virgin (end a career) it rains (people pay money). But it’s not good for the community (sport).

People fake getting hurt in soccer, just from being touched, not hurt, just touched!

The tears, the cursing, the hair pulling. It’s like a soft-core porn for sadists. Could you imagine that in an American football match or rugby? People would just be confused.

Come off it lads. Soccer played the right way, that is, the proper way, is not a contact sport. The contact is secondary. Even the best tackles are those that are inch perfect and don’t even touch a player.

The Beautiful Game.

I suppose it's not so bad...

Worship doesn’t require another person to be potentially injured. And, it’s interesting that English fans keep yearning for a bangers and mash play when such a mentality hasn’t won them anything but the world’s greatest disappointments on the big stage. No offense intended, but this is a big issue for Americans now. We’re trying to decide what country to model our youth training on. Here’s a thought: Brazil.

Brazil is the football player producing factory of the world. If aliens came to visit Earth today, with no prior knowledge of the game, they would know, unquestionably, that football originated in Brazil. Even though it didn’t. But, well, it sort of did. At least the proper way to play.

Why? Because the Brazilians play the game right. Deft dribbling, sublime passing, a courtesan’s sensitive touch, and a fortune teller’s vision of 5 minutes into the future, the Brazilian way has it all. Overly physical games that harm the play are criticized. Dunga tried that approach for the Brazil team and it failed and he looked bad. I’m not sure he’s even allowed in the country anymore. Even better, you never hear any sane person say the Brazilians can’t handle physical teams. They can, but they know that’s not how you play the game proper like. They just hate the English weather, way of life, food, people and just about everything else. Hey, don’t blame the messenger, I love London.

karate chop!

No. The physical nature of the English game or “physicality” as the Brits like to say is not necessary. In fact, it appeals to quite another another desire: bloodsport. The issue Arsene is really trying to rid the game of.

Bloodsport

Recently, I was in a conversation with an English Gooner visiting SF. In the middle of our conversation about possible rule changes, I asked him,

“Why haven’t the FA made the necessary changes to the game? They aren’t that complicated.”

His response?

“Because the papers run the sport.”

I thought about it. And he’s right. The priests, i.e. the newspapers, run the sport. Nothing else makes any sense. Blood sells. And not just blood, but blood when blood doesn’t always happen. There’s not risk of blood in American football or rugby. It’s expected; it’s part of the game; fans are desensitized to it. Nobody watches a true contact sport and goes: “oh wow, there’s blood.” We see it; register it; wonder how it might affect our fantasy leagues; then move on. But not in non-contact sports.

For better and largely worse, the risk of violence increases fan interest where blood is not expected. For race care driving, it’s the risk of death. In hockey, ratings always go down when the fights go down. Unfortunately for the English, soccer has come to embody this risk.

Instead of pushing for technique and skill like the Brazilians, Spaniards or Argentines. The English are pushing for boxing and high-impact. And all jokes, aside, it’s too bad. Because the only way this will come to an end is if a young promising English player loses their leg. A tragedy that can and should be avoided. The English may not care so much about foreigners, unless it’s a member of one’s Club, but some poor English lad will have to sacrifice his career to finally satiate the English football gods at this rate.

Arsene’s Vision can change that

Arsene is pushing for something beyond Arsenal. He’s pushing for a cultural change for the EPL, for an end of the virginal sacrifice. With the money in the EPL right now, a cultural shift could take the league into the next stratosphere. Games would be glorious to behold because the best football would be played all season, against every team, not just the Arsenals, but the Boltons and Stoke Cities too.

But until that time comes: prepare to sacrifice a new virgin (young career) unnecessarily every year.

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