by FAIZ NAQIB AMIRUL RAMLI

“Player A with the ball. Passes to player B. Nice footwork there. Had a glance. B crosses. C is there … and GOAL!! A sensational effort from C to give Team X the lead!!”

Football, or soccer as it is called in America, has been a cultural norm among many communities for ages, with many regarding it as the number one sport. In fact, if teenage boys were asked what kind of sport they would want to play, many would provide the same answer – football. For some, it is a life-changing experience – think legends Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo who came from streets to become some of the highest paid athletes in the world. To others, it is a fun recreational activity which serves as a platform to a healthier and well-shaped body. Not to mention also as an anti-depressant which people ‘take’ during the weekends after a tiring week of work! On that note, there is also another angle, although uncommon, from which football shapes or influences aspects of a person’s life. Every detail of the game, from the players to its rules, is relatable to a common man’s journey in his life. This includes the most miniscule part of football – the offside rule.

For those who are not familiar with the footballing world, offside, known more as Law 11 in the codified Law of The Game, denotes an offence made by an attacking team where the attacker is in an offside position. Commonly, an attacking player is in an offside position if he or she is beyond the second last opponent, or the ball, whilst the ball is played through to him by a teammate. When such offence is made, the referee would reward a free kick to the defending team. Such a rule went on to become a prominent feature of the game, with every offside decision always coming under scrutiny, especially in this age of videography. As offside offences are determined by second and third referees, commonly known as the linesmen, there were times when the wrong call was made which eventually costed a team the match, the latest ones involving two controversial goals scored by Ronaldo in Real Madrid’s match versus Bayern Munich in the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League.

Making life simpler

“He only stole RM10”

“They are only late for 10 minutes”

“She only slapped him once”

These are examples of comments that you hear whenever there is any issue that involves what seems like petty offences. You‘ve probably made similar comments in your lifetime!

This is where the offside rule may benefit you in understanding the situation, or even perhaps make you consider your own actions after this. The rule clearly designates the second last defending player’s position as a benchmark to determine whether there is any offside offence. Regardless of the distance of the offside position to the benchmark, the linesman would raise his flags and stop the match.

The operative word here is ‘benchmark’. And the easiest way to identify such benchmarks is based on the basic understanding of an action. For example, in a case where a person is late for five minutes to class, the benchmark here would be ‘late’, which means ‘doing something after the expected time’. So, if that person is refused entry into the class, he or she cannot object to the punishment on the basis of the small time gap. Even if it is only one minute, they are still considered late.

Society has always tried to discuss the repercussions or punishment of any crime which it views as ‘tolerable’ and ‘should not happen’. Sometimes, the discussion goes on for too long that it hits a dead-end. Sometimes, people invest too much time digging a hole to recover the right answer when it had been above ground all the time, waiting for them to lift their heads from down below. Our overthinking society loves to look too much into the details that it forgets that there are laws regulating such actions. Laws, just like the offside rule, have a fixed benchmark that they use to determine whether a crime is committed or not. In most cases, as petty as it seems, a crime is, in the end, still a crime.

Of course, not everything is black and white, and it is the fact that we humans have moral beliefs and emotions which makes decision-making tough. Even so, we do need to recognise the very basis of an issue, not keep questioning more complicated values such as how wrong the wrong is, which we could never settle due to the fact that everyone has different perspectives. Much complexity in life could be removed if we practice the offside rule in our lives, whether in evaluating an action or undertaking one. Do some basic thinking before trying to go deep into an issue. In short, be the linesman of our lives and know when a decision or an action is ‘offside’.