Can We Even Call it Soccer?

by Yau-Meng Wong

New MIAA COVID rules restrict the game beyond recognition

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Amid the coronavirus pandemic, many Massachusetts high schools have decided to continue with the Fall sports season, but with some modifications. These new rules are game changing to say the least, especially for sports that usually call for physical contact between players like soccer. The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletics Association (MIAA), who control high school sports in MA, introduced rule modifications such as no headers, throw-ins are now kick-ins, corners must be on the ground, and no intentional physical contact between players. If you’ve played a game of soccer in your life, you know how ridiculous these modifications sound. It’s truly a different game. Teams will no doubt have to change their strategies to accommodate the new rules. For one, corners are now essentially short passes, so pinging it over the defenders to find a teammate’s head or foot isn’t an option. The no physical contact aspect will be a huge disadvantage to defenders, especially those who rely on aggressive shoulder to shoulder or slide tackles. The MIAA states that “incidental contact on attempted toe-poke tackles may be permitted at the discretion of the referee”. Basically, you have to play like you’re scared of the opponent. Just pray you have an understanding referee, especially considering now if you’re within 6 feet of them they can issue a yellow or red card.

The only positive aspect to these new modifications is the possible increase in bicycle kick attempts, now that headers are off the table. That would definitely make the game more interesting to watch AND play. Coaches should even consider backflip training for their squads. One other, less game changing modification is that handshake lines at the end of the game have been changed to nod/wave lines. Salty players who refuse to shake hands at the end of a lost game rejoice! Now you can just sneer from 6 feet away.