Like many children in my America, I played organized soccer, but not beyond the age of eight. I make an effort to watch the World Cup when it occurs, but do not watch soccer at all beyond that one event. When I do watch the sport, I enjoy it to a reasonable extent. I don't have as great a problem with the lack of scoring as most Americans, but there is one rule that constantly frustrates me whenever I watch, and seems to serve no purpose but to curb scoring and prevent the game from becoming more exciting. That rule is the offsides rule. My question is this:

What's the point of the offsides rule?

I understand what it's meant to prevent, and how the rule is enforced, but I don't understand why. From a philosophical perspective, why does it hamper the game if an offensive player puts himself in a position where there is less than two defenders between him and the goal? I don't mean to sound like a typical American who can do nothing but criticize the sport, but such a rule makes no sense to me. An elimination of it would not give one team an advantage over the other, but would encourage more scoring (or at least more exciting plays) and force the defense to better strategize and keep tabs on where all the members of the opposing team are positioning themselves. Am I making sense, or is there something I'm overlooking?
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I haven't a clue. ~The offside rule is notoriously complex and hard for 'outsiders' (like me. Football? Ugh! Boring!) to understand.
Trust me... Football wouldn't be more exciting without the offside rule... There would be just too many scores and the excitement would end too early...
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Well, the whole point in eliminating the offsides rule would be to increase scoring. If you consider that a bad thing, then I can understand why you would not want to see a rule change. However, I don't see how more scoring would lead to a less exciting game. I think that more scoring would almost surely make the game much more exciting. The first World Cup soccer game I watched in its entirety ended in a 0-0 tie. I felt very unsatisfied. Personally, I would much rather watch a game that ended in a score of 6-6 than 0-0 any day of the week.
I'm afraid I can't agree with you, though you might be just as right as me... Nevertheless I think that the offside rule is to be kept...

Best wishes,

=YoHf=
The purpose of this rule is to prevent forwards from hanging around in front of the opposing goal all day, just waiting for a long pass to collect and then be in a sweet position to make a goal. This rule keeps forwards even with defenders, which is obviously a big help to defenders. I think it's more exciting when it's hard to score. If there wasn't offsides rule then a normal team can win easily from a pro team don't you think so too?!
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Without the offside rule, you'd have ten goalhangers in each penalty area, and the goalkeepers kicking the ball from end to end.

Besides, you don't watch football for the goals. They're just an interesting by-product...

MrP
I agree to the point of views of MrP and Cyber, and I'd like to add that, without that rule, football players, especially strikers, won't improve their performance by looking for new ways to get around the defensive barriers, and defenders won't get any smart.
Nowadays, nearly all the famous strikers have good dribbling capabilities, and defenders use their head more than their feet, to mark the strikers and defend.
Have you ever heard about the famous Italian "Cadenaccio"? Well, my guess is, had the offside rule never existed, Italians would have never bothered coming up with that. I bet YoHf can tell us more about it.
Besides, the offside rule also protects strikers. Think about it. If a striker is allowed to hang the entire game around the posts, why would a defender be worried of chasing him as a predator chases his prey, kicking his legs, and worst, breaking few bones? Football will turn into wrestling, with a different name.
Without the offside rule, you'd have ten goalhangers in each penalty area, and the goalkeepers kicking the ball from end to end.

Besides, you don't watch football for the goals. They're just an interesting by-product...

As I mentioned before, I haven't played soccer in a very long time, and never at a very high level. I did, however, play organized water polo for four years throughout high school. While the two games are obviously not the same, the basics are similar. You have two teams whose objective is to shoot the ball past the opposing goalkeeper and into the net. In water polo though, there is no offsides rule as there is in soccer (although it's true that players on offense are not allowed within two meters of the goal unless they possess the ball). Even without an offsides rule, one rarely sees a player hanging around the opposing goal while the rest of his teammates are at the opposite side of the pool on defense. The reason it doesn't happen very often is because it gives his team an obvious disadvantage on defense. When it does happen (we called it "cherry-picking"), the other team has a choice to make. They can send a defender to hang around and guard him in order to prevent a one-on-one matchup between that player and their goalie, or they can take a risk and attempt to score on offense against an undermanned defense.

The point in my saying this is that the teams never resorted to blocking out the entire goal with their bodies, while having the actual goalkeepers toss the ball back-and-forth, fruitlessly trying to score long-distance goals. To assume that such a thing would happen to the game of soccer, were the offsides rule to be repealed, is downright silly. It works in a sport that's very similar in principle. Lastly, I don't know how many of you are familiar with water polo, but it is not a particularly high-scoring game, a typical score would be something like 6-4.

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