Last weekend I watched Hull City unsuccessfully battle against relegation following a 0-0 draw against Manchester United. I found the game intriguing despite witnessing no goals. A friend of mine finds this bizarre and questions how I could possibly watch a sport where games can have few, if any, scores. Fans of basketball, rugby or Gaelic Games often find these sports far more entertaining as the objective is to outscore your opponent, rather than defend and hope to sneak a goal. Enter Gaelic football. Followers of the game will be at this stage all too familiar with criticism of the sport, which many are suggesting has become overly cynical and defensive. While attacking an opponent is essential, is seems to becoming less of a priority, with teams happy to defend and soak up pressure.
For those unfamiliar with the game, the 2014 All-Ireland Final was slammed as being one of the worst, if not the worst, in history due to the negative, defensive tactics on display.
Since then, a number of high profile parties have come forward to express their views as to how Gaelic Football might be changed for the better. One such proposal was a reduction in the number of players from 15 to 13 to create greater space and more scoring opportunities, particularly goal scoring chances.
Last week I spoke to a colleague on the matter. I asked him if organisers wanted more goals, why not increase the return for a goal, from say 3 points to 5? Rugby has successfully done this for decades with try scores. He laughed and said it would make the problem worse. I deferred to his GAA knowledge. The argument he made was that teams would not be more incentivised to score goals but more fearful of conceding, leading to even greater defensive play.
So how do you get players to move away from their own goal? We both suggested a scoring line, let’s say beyond the 45 yard line, where any point from outside this would count for double. The best comparison is the 3 point score in basketball. This would reward accurate kicking from long distances and force teams to defend higher up. Furthermore, higher defences would allow for more space between the 45 yard line and the goal and should create more goal chances.