The Corner

The Offside Rule — a Commie Plot

“Mr. Derbyshire—I know you have indicated that you did not wish to hear an

explanation of the off-sides rule in soccer. But I must share this as the

off-sides call completely flummoxed me when I attended my sons’ soccer games

(excuse me) matches. But after much discussion with referees (after the

matches) and coaches, I now understand.

“Off-sides is called whenever the offense (the team in control of the ball)

uses its speed, dexterity, or cunning to gain advantage over the defense. As

soon as this occurs, the whistle blows, off-sides is gravely intoned, the

ball is taken away (from the team that has just accomplished what you try to

do in all other sports), and given to the other side.

“My oldest son, who still enjoys playing soccer, still gets mad at me when I

call soccer a communist game but it is. First, you have off-sides, which is

simply wealth redistribution: you take from the successful and give to the

less able. Next, if the referees are successful and the game ends in a tie

because no one could gain enough advantage to score, you end the game with a

shoot-out. Remaining ancestors of the kulaks would understand this only too


I am not the least bit surprised, Sir. My own theory, aired in the pages of

National Review a few years ago, is that “the game [i.e. soccer] was brought

into the world by Satan to drive the human race mad.”


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