By Lewis Grizzard
I don't want to sound flippant about all those people getting killed in European soccer riots, but I honestly think I know part of the reason for the violence that surrounds the sport in other parts of the world.
It's because soccer is boring to watch. If I had to watch a soccer match or a bowling match, I would take bowling every time.
At least in bowling, you always can laugh at those silly bowling shirts and shoes the bowlers wear. The only thing uglier than a bowling shoe is Gloria Vanderbilt.
Nothing ever happens in one soccer game to set it apart from another. The two teams run up and down the field for a couple of hours and then maybe - just maybe - one of the teams will score a goal.
I can give you the soccer scores for an entire season right here. They will be 0-0, 1-0 or 1-1 most of the time, and occasionally there will be a real slugfest that ends 2-1.
What happens in Europe is, all those people get together for a soccer match and they start drinking and they become bored with what's happening on the field, so they riot.
Bet, don't riot
Imagine a riot breaking out in the middle of a close American football game. There is too much head-knocking on the field for such a thing to take place, and since most of the people in the stands have a bet down on the game, they aren't going to get involved in a fight because they might have a week's salary wagered on the outcome.
I've never seen a soccer match in person. I avoid soccer matches with the same intensity that I avoid the dentist.
However, I did see a match on television once. I was in London and I turned on the set in my hotel room and the BBC was televising the English soccer version of the Super Bowl.
You don't have a lot of choices when it comes to watching the telly in London, so, fool that I was, I sat there and watched the soccer match.
The crowd sang.
The two teams kicked the ball up and down the field for an entire afternoon, but nobody could get the ball past the goalkeepers and the match ended 0-0.
No problem. They decided to try again in a couple of days. I found myself in front of the television in my hotel room watching the second stanza of this yawner. I had to see if anybody would ever score.
Late in the second match, somebody kicked the ball and it hit a player in the back of his head and accidentally went into the goal. Team A took the championship 1-0. I've seen more excitement at a K mart tire sale.
What the crowds at the two matches did most is sing. There was nothing to watch on the field, so they sang - which, of course, is better than rioting, but some of the best fights I've ever seen started with a bunch of drunks trying to sing at a bar.
What comes off the top of my head as a means of making soccer more exciting is to give the players baseball bats and if the match happens to end in a tie, then let the respective goalies fight it out in a bare knuckles tie-breaker.
As we have proved with many of our popular American sports, it is better to have the violence on the field than in the bleachers.
- This and other Lewis Grizzard articles can be found at www.lewisgrizzard.com