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Shooting and Scoring — Soccer (1925)


Soccer
Cause: Pre-1925 goals were even rarer than they are today and players were being whistled for being offside at a rate more than double today's competition. Back then the Laws of the Game stated it was illegal for a player to be nearer his opponent's goal line at the moment the ball is kicked unless there were three of his opponents between him and their goal (including the goalie).

Rule: A simple one-word change proposed by the Scottish Football Association from "three" to "two-player offside rule", re-invented soccer strategy for the next three decades.

Effect: By changing it to "two", the sport blossomed offensively and defensive strategy was refocused. According to The World Encyclopedia of Soccer, goals went up 33 percent in England after the change, and "all tactical innovations since 1925 have revolved around the two-opponent offside rule. Indeed, the whole history of the game would have been vastly different if the concept of offside were not at its core." Herbert Chapman's Arsenal FC of the 1930's used the rule to dominate English soccer with a new formation called W-M. It essentially created a set of defensive positions that resembled a "W" from above and an offensive set that looked like a "M." It remained a soccer standard for the next two decades and set the example for years to come.

A Goalie's Worst Nightmare — Hockey (1929)

AP/Wide World Photos

NHL fans who think Buffalo goalie Dominik Hasek's nickname, "the Dominator", is accurate should have seen Montreal's George Hainsworth in 1928.

Cause: Goalies were dominating ice hockey in the mid 1920's. The rules, after all, were in their favor. Players were prohibited from passing the puck forward anywhere on the ice, limiting the number of shots the goalie would face in a game to a measly few. Before the 1927-28 season the National Hockey League changed the rule to allow forward passing in the defensive third and the center third of the ice. But the average number of goals scored during a game still dropped from 3.67 to an all-time low of 2.80 during the 1928-29 season.

Rule: The league voted before the 1929-30 season to allow forward passing into the attacking zone, or the third of the ice where the opposition's goal is.

Effect: The number of goals scored per game rocketed to 6.91 partway through the 1929-30. Only "partway", because that's when the league amended the rule to include mention of an offside rule similar to the one used in hockey today. Without the amendment teams were stationing players in the attacking zone waiting for a pass well in back of the other team's defense, setting up an easy breakaway. Even with the new offside rule, scoring doubled in the NHL, and seasons like the one Montreal goalie George Hainsworth had in 1928-29 when he recorded 22 shutouts in 44 games, were made nearly impossible to duplicate. In fact, Cooney Weiland's league-leading 43 goals in 1929-30 was 10 more than the entire Chicago Blackhawks team had scored the year before. The rule changed NHL offensive strategy forever and made the goalie's job one of the most difficult in sports.







Did you know?  Belva Ann Lockwood became the first woman admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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