Explaining a draw to the non-soccer crowd

Every once in a while I have to be reminded that not everyone understands soccer. And oftentimes I find myself teaching people about the laws of the game. It is, after all, to them a foreign sport, a growing one at that.

During the past two weeks, I’ve been reminded how many people in the United States find one very common aspect of soccer very peculiar. It is the draw. Yes, a draw when two teams score the same number goals in a 90 minute goal — whether it’s 0-0, 1-1, 2-2 and so forth.

As a soccer fan, a draw seems such a natural part of the game. I enjoy draws because they often represent a fair result of what happened on the pitch during the 90 minutes. Why penalize one team over another if both teams were equally as good (or bad) for the entire game?

I’ve been reminded about draws in the past two weeks because of the World Cup. That’s because the same question comes up every four years. “Why are there draws in soccer?” For most people outside of soccer, a draw seems like a foreign concept. Most American sports (maybe all?) have a winner and a loser. Seeing a winner and a loser in US sports seems more, well, American. Those who work hardest are rewarded. There is no place for a draw. Draws are for foreigners, not Americans.


One of the reasons I have to explain draws is when people ask me about the World Cup. And how the first round works. And what happens in the second round where if both teams are still at a draw after 90 minutes, the game goes into extra time. And then, if it’s still a draw, to penalty kicks. It’s a concept that a lot of people don’t know very well, those outside of soccer. I have to remind them that soccer games are very close scores and then often it’s the slimmest of margins that separates teams.

The best example of how the foreign concept of a draw has influenced American soccer was the early days of Major League Soccer where if the score of a game was still a draw after 90 minutes, the game would proceed to a shoot-out. As a season ticket holder to the Miami Fusion, I remember laughing out loud on several occasions in the stadium whenever games would go to shoot-out. Both teams had often battled so hard during the entire match and now a winner and a loser had to be chosen over something that was so silly to watch.

What about you? Do you like draws or would you prefer there to be a winner and a loser in each game, no matter what league or competition around the world? Share your feedback in the comments section below.

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