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Inside the Mind of Swag

Maybe the group stage needs to go?

It's getting more and more difficult to defend soccer around here, as after 14 matches in the group stage of the World Cup Finals there have been six draws. Also, only one team, Germany, has scored more than two goals in a match. Now, I understand competition at this level puts goals at a premium, however there is no incentive to risk winning the opening matches as you have less to gain than what you risk actually losing a match to open up the World Cup. With a draw not only do you earn a point, but you keep your opponent from getting three points. There is no urgency and after two and a half years of qualification stages, and six months of hype since the matches were announced it's more than a bit of a letdown. The reason the NCAA Tournament is such a phenomenon is that some good teams are going home on the first night, and if there is an upset early on, it actually means you advance. It takes the NCAA to cut 64 teams down to 16. It takes the World Cup 15 days to cut the field from 32 to 16. I see no reason FIFA can't have the final stage of the World Cup be a 32 team single elimination tournament. You want to hold people's attention, how about Italy down 1-0 in the second half knowing if they don't score they are out and unable to defend their title after just 90 minutes. Now that's urgency! I understand FIFA would prefer not to have too many games decided by penalty kicks, but that's drama and entertainment, and that is what the world sports is becoming. Too many people who don't enjoy soccer the way I do have been wondering what these draws mean, is it good or bad. When you put on a show for the world of this magnitude it needs to be a little easier to consume without having the product suffer. If the Pac-10 can figure that out after 30 plus years of staying the course then so can FIFA. Other random thoughts from the first week of the World Cup... Can someone get Diego Maradona a suit that fits... Does John Harkes sound like Mary Carillo... On the biggest field on most of the sports we play in the US, why does FIFA still only have a single referee on the playing surface... Ghana v. Serbia has been the most entertaining match I have seen so far... ESPN has gone to far with all the British announcers. I need me some J.P. Dellacamera. Can't they give Gary Thorne a crash course in the beautiful game?

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06/15/2010 1:47PM
Maybe the group stage needs to go?
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