Monday, August 6, 2007

Sam's Blog - Numbers - August 6

Sam’s Blog will be a weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. Sam Snow is the Director of Coaching Education for US Youth Soccer.

What’s up with that?

While walking around a soccer park this weekend watching youth and adult amateur matches I noticed again a goalkeeper wearing 00. OK, I’ll admit up front that I am a soccer traditionalist in some ways. I think that soccer shoes should be black, that coaches should tuck in their shirt and that jersey numbers should be traditional whenever possible. With apologies to Jaime Moreno, but 99 is not a soccer number. Yes I know I don’t have a leg to stand on with this argument since even in the Mexican first division players have jersey numbers like 142 for crying out loud. Perhaps it was their try-out number from ODP.

Maybe I’m hung up on the traditional jersey number thing because of fighting the battles for years to get soccer accepted as a “real” sport. One small aspect of that fight was that soccer numbers were 1-18. Goalkeepers wore numbers 1 and 18 and field players wore numbers 2-17. Now that college teams and even professional teams have rosters in the twenties stopping the numbering at 18 does not make sense. However 00 is not even a number. Mathematicians take it easy I know that 0 is a number, but we’re talking about people here. You’re a zero is a slander. Why on Earth would a coach let a player be less than zero? Come on give the kid a number.

We can call it a soccer field instead of a pitch or we can call it a baseball field instead of a diamond. We can call it a soccer ball instead of a football, despite the obvious reason why it really is a football. We can call it a soccer game instead of a match. We can call it practice even though when it’s done correctly it becomes a training session. We can even call it recreational when in fact it is all competitive. But we must give the player who is already somewhat separated from the rest of the team a number.


Anonymous said...

while I agree that it would be nice to see some of the traditions remain, I would be willing to bet that this keeper picked his own jersey number. in that case, it would be more separating to tell this kid he can't have 00. I would also bet that most kids and coaches especially in the rec programs don't even understand the numbering traditions.

i'd settle for just letting Beckham call it football when he does an interview instead of having him feel like he needs to call it soccer. :)

Old Soccer Guy said...

I grew up in the U.S. where we played soccer with a soccer ball on a field and in games instead of matches.

I also grew up in a time where we were starting to be proud of American soccer. We tried to push the sport into the mainstream by making it less mysterious.

And during that time, we viewed Americans who played the sport with a football in matches on a pitch with pretend accents as phonies trying to act European -- much like the non-soccer players who wore Sambas to school.

Today, I understand that the approcah got us nowhere. We have more important issues to address in this country.