What's wrong with the game clock and ref clock being in sync?

Discussion in 'MLS: General' started by BassNFool, Jan 2, 2006.

  1. BassNFool

    BassNFool Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    Virginia
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    What are the pros and cons of the game clock being accurate, i.e. in sync with the refs official clock?
     
  2. Onionsack

    Onionsack BigSoccer Yellow Card

    Jul 21, 2003
    New York City
    Club:
    FC Girondins de Bordeaux
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    i smell a Justin Timberlake joke brewing.....
     
  3. TomEaton

    TomEaton Member

    Mar 5, 2000
    Champaign, IL
    When you say the clocks are synchronized, do you mean that the referee hits a button on his watch to stop the clock and the scoreboard clock would stop too? Because I'm not sure referees really do it that way (I'm not a ref, though, maybe they'd like to chime in). I think what they do is they subjectively make some determination that an injury or whatever took about two minutes, so they decide two minutes will be added on at the end, and when about two minutes of injury time have passed, they end the game at some moment when a goal is not about to be scored. Maybe some refs are more accurate about it than that, but I doubt that they all are.

    For the first few years of MLS, when the clock counted backward and the scoreboard clock was the official time, the referees could make a signal to stop the clock when players were faking injuries and stuff to waste time at the end. In general, what happened was that they simply never signalled. I can remember a few games that ended when a team behind by a goal would be awarded a free kick in a dangerous position, but the defensive wall wouldn't move back and the referee wouldn't stop the clock. The game then ended before the free kick was ever taken. A related problem at the time was that the players, knowing the scoreboard clock showed the official time remaining, once there were only a few seconds to go would just kick the ball aimlessly up into the stands or simply leave the ball and start walking off the field.

    Before seeing the way it worked out, I thought that having everybody know exactly how much time remained in the match would be great, and that it would eliminate manipulation by refs who consciously or otherwise wanted to give one team an advantage. Instead all that happened was that the players manipulated the time instead (more than they could under the traditional system). So I guess transparency in one sense would be a pro and in another a con.

    I personally like the fact that when a half is about to end, the ref can allow a play to continue if there's a scoring chance to see how it works out. Some people I guess would rather have timekeeping strictly enforced, although I have difficulty understanding that attitude in a game where the time continues to run when the ball is not in play.
     
  4. SYoshonis

    SYoshonis Member+

    Jun 8, 2000
    Manistee, Michigan
    Club:
    Michigan Bucks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I agree 100%. I like the fact that the clock is subject to human judgment, not the other way around.

    I also liked it better before they started announcing how much stoppage time would be added on to every half. Having the exact time of the end of the half be a nearly complete mystery add an element of anxiety that was unique to soccer. It still is, although much watered down by having a better idea of the approximate time left in the half.

    All in all, it's better to not have the scoreboard clock be official. I guess the better question would be, why screw around with a good thing?
     
  5. BassNFool

    BassNFool Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    Virginia
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I was just curious to read a discusion on the issue. I currently have no opinion on the subject and have not suggested that MLS change how they manage the clock. I always found it interesting that stoppage time was usually in 1 minute increments. That it is totally subjective is not a surprise. However, it does seem to give the Ref alot of leeway to either favor the team in the lead or give the down side more time than they should have to even things up.
     
  6. Michael CM1

    Michael CM1 New Member

    Jun 5, 2002
    Atlanta, Georgia: US
    That would be a good question. I'm gonna pull the "If we can put a man on the moon" card...

    If we can put a man on the moon, why can't we give a soccer referee a small remote that controls the game clock?
     
  7. morrissey

    morrissey Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 18, 2000
    West Los Angeles, Calif
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    FIFA requires that a match consist of equal halves, this requires lost time (time that the ball is not in play) be made up for so that each half is 45 minutes. Some referees will wear two watches, one counting up to 45 and one counting down. The one counting up will be the one that is like a stop watch and the one counting down will run without stopping. That way when the countdown stops a ref can quickly look at the counting up watch and calculate how much time needs to be added.

    I don't know how exactly it is done in the pros. They have all sorts of gadgets and the 4th official is a luxury that most of us will never have. But that is basically the theory behind putting the time in the refs hands. It cannot be accurate any other way.

    james
     
  8. spejic

    spejic Cautionary example

    Mar 1, 1999
    San Rafael, CA
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Good. This way we can see when the refs screw up instead of it remaining hidden.
    That is the way it is supposed to be. The game is supposed to be 90 minutes. By making the game longer and giving the down team more chances, you are just being unfair to the leading team.
     
  9. sephjnr

    sephjnr Member

    Apr 19, 2004
    Bristol, England
    Club:
    Bristol City FC
    Nat'l Team:
    England
    He already has one. It's called a 'whistle'.
     
  10. jkdd77

    jkdd77 New Member

    Jul 16, 2005
    England
    This would reward and encourage cynical fouling by the team in the lead. Is this really what you want?
     
  11. chapulincolorado

    Jul 14, 1999
    McAllen, Texas
    Club:
    FC Dallas
    Nat'l Team:
    Mexico
    Damn! Does it come with an iPod?
    Daaamn this new fangled technology!!!! :D
     
  12. spejic

    spejic Cautionary example

    Mar 1, 1999
    San Rafael, CA
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Cynical fouling goes on right now and is rewarded as well. I don't want a change in the time rules, I only want everyone to see the accurate time.
     
  13. KCbus

    KCbus Moderator
    Staff Member

    United States
    Nov 26, 2000
    Reynoldsburg, OH
    Club:
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Not true. The team that's refusing to back up and allow the free kick to be taken is WASTING TIME. And that's precisely one of the reasons a referee is supposed to add time back on in the first place.
     
  14. Khansingh

    Khansingh New Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    The Luton Palace
    They should really crack down on that. If a team doesn't back up the ten yards, give the GK a caution. If they persist, eject him.
     
  15. spejic

    spejic Cautionary example

    Mar 1, 1999
    San Rafael, CA
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    So the ref stops his clock, which is the same thing he does now. Why is this concept so hard to grasp?
     
  16. SYoshonis

    SYoshonis Member+

    Jun 8, 2000
    Manistee, Michigan
    Club:
    Michigan Bucks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    But why? The fact that nobody knows exactly when the game or half will end adds an element of mystery that no other sport has. The fact that other sports do not do this matters not in the slightest to me. In fact, I think that it would make hockey and basketball better not to know.
     
  17. Khansingh

    Khansingh New Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    The Luton Palace
    Aussie Rules and rugby have that same mystery, though not to the extent that it exists in soccer.
     
  18. spejic

    spejic Cautionary example

    Mar 1, 1999
    San Rafael, CA
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Then why is it good only for the time? Why not erase the field lines? Why have real goals? The ref knows where those things should be - isn't that good enough for you?
     
  19. SYoshonis

    SYoshonis Member+

    Jun 8, 2000
    Manistee, Michigan
    Club:
    Michigan Bucks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Nope. Are you seriously saying that knowing when a goal is scored is exactly, let alone nearly, as important as knowing precisely how much time is left in the half? Seriously?

    If so, A) you're insane, and B) I disagree.

    Not knowing exactly when the time expires enhances enjoyment of the game, in my opinion. Not knowing when a goal is scored, or when the ball is out of play would not. Disagree if you will but please stop pretending that your opinion is the same as objective fact, because it is not. The time on the clock is not the same as the lines on the field or the goals, and I defy you to show otherwise.
     
  20. spejic

    spejic Cautionary example

    Mar 1, 1999
    San Rafael, CA
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    It is exactly the same thing. They are both information that could be supplied to the players and fans, but it is not strictly needed. You are just not being consistent.
    It is a rare opinion. There is a reason people count down the seconds to New Year. There is a reason that movie bombs always have visible timers on them. There is a reason the USS Voyager computer always knows how many seconds there are to a warp core breach. There is a reason just about every timed sport moved to public official time.
    People will know when a goal is scored or when the ball goes out by when the refs signal. Don't you trust the ref to be right in these cases? Wouldn't it be exciting when a player is dribbling close to the sideline and you can't tell if he is in the line or not? Wouldn't it be better to reward a brilliant bicycle kick that might had just missed the goal posts?

    Why is having public, objective information good in one case and not in the other?
     
  21. ToMhIlL

    ToMhIlL Member+

    Feb 18, 1999
    Boxborough, MA
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Spejic, let me ask you a totally serious question... Did you follow MLS at all before 1999? I assume you didn't, but just ask anyone who was around then, and they will tell you just what a mess it was with taking the clock out of the referee's hands.

    In a normal game, the ref will make a mental note to add 30 seconds here, a minute there, etc. for injuries, substitutions, time wasting, etc. and total that for the half to 3 minutes or whatever. Fair enough, even if it is not precisely how much time was wasted, and even if the whistle blows a few seconds before or after the exact 3 minute mark. I'm OK with him making that judgment call, just as I'm OK with him making a call on a possible PK, red card or any other call he might make during the game.

    In the early MLS years, even though in theory, a ref could have stopped the clock for 15 seconds of time-wasting or during the 30 seconds it took for the sub to run on the field, I can assure you that he rarely did. In fact, if there was an injury, usually it would take a minute or so before they'd realize it was "serious" enough to stop the clock. In reality, they should have started play, and started up the clock a minute later to make up for the lost time, but they never did. And it would inevitably take at least 10-15 seconds for the guy running the scoreboard to even realize the ref was telling him to stop the clock.

    I remember a Univision game in 1996 when Tampa had a chance to equalize in the waning seconds of the game. DC was delaying and standing over the ball, not moving back, etc. Normally, a ref would just add on whatever time needed to make sure Tampa had enough time to set up and take the kick. In this situation, time expired, even though there was 15 seconds left when the foul was committed. You might argue that the ref should have stopped the clock right then and there, which is true. He also had spent his entire career refereeing non-MLS games and was more concerned with getting the defensive wall back far enough, etc. If there is no provision whatsoever to add on time in a situation like this, the game as a whole will suffer. I remember Valderrama screaming at the ref and a whole rhubarb errupting when the game ended and Tampa couldn't take the kick that they had earned. They at least deserved a chance to make it "el dramatico finale." (Of course, all that would have done was force a shootout :eek: ) I don't speak much Spanish, but I recall Norberto Longo going crazy about what a farce it was. How much do you think that incident had to do with eroding the fan base from people who were at least willing to give MLS a shot?

    Please, let's not go back to the Dark Ages. MLS has made changes in the last several years to more "normalize" the game with the way it is played everywhere else on planet Earth. There may still be things that need to be fixed, but this ain't one of them. They should have just not broken it to begin with,a nd they wouldn't have had to fix these things.

    Tom
     
  22. spejic

    spejic Cautionary example

    Mar 1, 1999
    San Rafael, CA
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Yes I did.
    The clock was never out of the ref's hands.
    It's great that we can see the mistakes that the ref is making. The ref could be making the exact same mistakes now, you just don't know about them.
     
  23. yellowbismark

    yellowbismark Member+

    Nov 7, 2000
    San Diego, CA
    Club:
    Club Tijuana
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Agree with everything Tom Hill said. The refs (or the scoreboard operators) were very poor at keeping the scoreboard clock in sync with the stoppages. It was just impractical. In the end, it resulted in less soccer action for the fans to watch.

    As others have mentioned, it also led to more intentional time wasting (not moving the wall, feigning injuries, kicking the ball out of play), it led to more cynical play as well (there was a strong tendency toward heaving the ball down field). I don't know about you, but I don't want to spend the last two minutes of the game watching the defending team blast the ball 50 yards downfield every chance they get.

    At least with the time kept the way it is, the last few minutes of a game seem a little more fluid and functional...
     
  24. Pablo Chicago

    Pablo Chicago Member+

    Sep 7, 2005
    Sweet Home Chicago
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Interesting discussion.

    I think we've all seen games where the stoppage time is put up by the 4th official and everyone including the announcers wonder how the ref managed to come up with that figure, or 3 minutes of stoppage time is added and the game runs for another 5 minutes (even though there were not injuries or substitutions) while fans howl and whistle for the ref to stop the match.

    One could argue that it is too easy for the ref to manipulate time which could have the potential to change the outcome of a game.

    However, is the alternative of taking the clock out of the refs hands any better? It appears that has been tried and failed miserably. What would happen if a shot was taken on goal as time expired? Would the ref have to go to instant replay to see if time ran out before the ball crossed the goal line? Would there be situations where the ref have to make a public announcement to add time back on the clock, etc., etc.?

    Soccer is a simple game. IMO, its simplicity is one of the key factors that make it the beautiful game. There are too many issues associated with taking the clock out of the refs hands, some of which would make the game more complicated than it needs to be.
     
  25. ToMhIlL

    ToMhIlL Member+

    Feb 18, 1999
    Boxborough, MA
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    So you honestly believe the game was better the way the clock was managed from 1996-99?

    But we don't see the same mistakes. If a guy is lining up a shot near the end of the game, the result should count, even if it's a half-second later than the allotted added time. If he can score a goal in that situation, more power to him. A travesty would be if time expired as the ball was in the air and the whole debate errupted over whether the goal should count. It is a non-issue with the ref keeping time.

    Added time is set up as a minimum of 3 (or whatever) minutes, not exactly 3 minutes. What happens most of the time is that if the guy's shot goes wide, the keeper takes the ball for the goal kick. Once he kicks it, the ref will usually blow the whistle then. What is the problem with the extra 20 seconds?

    There is a very good reason that the clock is managed the way that it is. FIFA laws of the game have the ref with a stopwatch, a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment--hell, even a regular watch will do. This means the game can be played the same way at any level, in any part of the world, from a remote village in Africa to a mega-stadium in Europe. No fancy-schmantzy remotes to work a stadium scoreboard clock.

    There is no sense in making something more complicated simply for the sake of making it more complicated. It's easy to rag on refs being incompetent, blind, reee-tahds, especially when they screw up a call against your team, but that stuff evens out in the long run. If you will allow the Blind Bastard to use his judgment when it comes to a possible PK, you should certainly allow him enough leeway with the stopwatch to end the game at a time when it makes sense.

    Tom
     

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