1966 was a long time ago.

The teaching load in history was 300 students a year then! Eight preparations spread over three terms! Two courses in summer school, and later a winter mini-term.

After 1968 add coaching soccer, advising ZBT, and in 1970 the duties of departmental chair.

1864 is even more distant.

That is when his house was constructed by Barzillai Beckwood. View from the Birdseye drawing of 1869.

Almost an acre of flowers, grass and weeds. But great for dogs, children, and the occasional game of cut-throat croquet.

Soccer Rule Changes Necessary

William Urban

The World Cup debacle of 2002 for favored teams France, Italy and Argentina demonstrate the urgent need for a fundamental change in two of soccerís oldest rules: offsides and carding.

The off-side rule was created in days of offensive-minded soccer to slow down scoring. And did it succeed! In recent decades astute coaches have reduced the number of strikers and concentrated on defense, often utilizing one or even two players to roam the field, assisting the defense wherever the attacks became too strong. Scores sank to 1-0, 2-1. Fans hated it. But, hey, a winís a win.

Whatever the fans thought, the most serious impact came on refereeing: there is a real reluctance to call a foul in the penalty area, because one penalty kick might well decide the game. Consequently, almost everything short of assault is overlooked. In the 2002 World Cup shirt-pulling became so common that it might as well have been legal.

With the increase in "minor" fouls came an increase in retaliatory fouls: the swift elbow, the trip, and, of course, the "dive." Although referees were supposed to award yellow yards to player who faked being fouled, the players were more likely to get an Oscar.

The increasing brutality on the field has been exceeded only by the brutality of the fans. Outraged at calls for fouls that were hardly worse than others, or fouls that were not called, fans threaten referees and assault supporters of the other teams.

What is the best way out of this box? Obviously, more scoring. If games are decided by several goals, referees will no longer hesitate to call them as the rules see them. What the best way to increase scoring? To eliminate the off-sides rule.

What would have happened in the 2002 World Cup without the off-sides rule? Probably France, Italy and maybe Argentine would have advanced. Each of these teams has superb ball-handling skills, and each maneuvered the ball effectively until encountering the massed defensive line at the penalty area. Imagine basketball if the ball could not be passed forward. That is soccerís situation. If these teams could have passed to an open man, there would have been goals instead of the linesmanís flag. (The linesmen could even have helped effectively on calling fouls if they werenít running up and down trying to keep their eyes on potential off-side players.)

Coaches who hear this proposal say that offensive players would just hang around the goalie. So? There are rules about interfering with a goalie, and if some coaches want to give the goalie someone to talk with while the ball is eighty yards away, thatís his choice. (Or herís, in countries where womenís soccer is popular, and where there is more scoring, typically because the goalies are shorter and donít have wings like eagles.) Then the coaches object that there would be more scoring! Duh.

A second rule change would be to adopt a hockey practice: letting the player committing the foul sit out several minutes. If the team with the advantage knew that it only had fifteen minutes or five to exploit its opportunity, it would no longer sit back and leisurely draw out the game. Referees would be more willing to pull out red and yellow cards, and players would presumably become more cautious. Carding practices date back to the era when there was one referee and one watch. Today even kiddie games are taken more seriously than sanity suggests is wise. The best way to tame an overenthusiastic parent is to give him (or her) something to do.

Do these rule changes stand a chance? Probably not. Teams in the US have experimented with no-offsides (and senior leagues often ignore the rule), with good results. Usually the rest of the world resents the US pushing its weight around, but this year the teams that would have benefited are considered the best in the world. If France would call for reforms, the world could only ask "Can forty million Frenchmen be wrong?"

William Urban coached club and varsity soccer 1968-1981 at Monmouth College in Illinois.

Essay on Coaching 2005

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