Leading Off

Leading Off: Is it time for soccer to modify offside rule?

It’s Game 7 of the 2015 NBA Finals, and the Cavaliers’ LeBron James has beaten the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard down the floor with time running out.

James gathers in a long pass from Kyrie Irving and dunks the ball. The Cavaliers take a one-point lead with one second left on the clock, and the fans at Quicken Loans Arena are delirious.

Wait, what was that?

Yep, a whistle. The crowd groans as James is called offside and the Spurs get not only the ball but the victory and their second consecutive NBA championship.

That’s how different the NBA would be with a version of offside.

So many times during the World Cup, an official could be seen holding the offside flag, negating a dramatic breakaway by an aggressive offensive team.

We know offside is a tradition of the “beautiful game,” and soccer purists are aghast at the idea of abolishing it.

The rule keeps players from parking themselves around the opponent’s goal, playing just the offensive end of the pitch, and allows defenders to move up and apply pressure on the opponent.

But the rule also allows defenses to employ offside traps, where the defensive line moves up quickly, causing an opponent to be offside and possibly winning a free kick. And a quick-thinking defender who figures he will be beaten by a quicker opponent might slow enough to allow the opponent to run past him, knowing offside will be called to negate a possible goal.

Perhaps it’s time for another modification of the offside rule so aggressive offensive attacks aren’t penalized.

– Tom Couzens


Today’s poll

Should soccer modify the offside rule?

• No, it’s fine as it is.

• Yes, it penalizes aggressive offenses.

• Who cares; it’s soccer.

To vote, go to sacbee.com/sports

Monday’s results

Of the division leaders at the break, which team will win the World Series?

• A’s: 69%

• Dodgers: 13%

• Tigers: 12%

• Brewers: 2%

• Orioles: 2%

• Nationals (tied): 1%

• Braves (tied): 1%

Total votes: 129

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