Sports Illustrated Kids
Kip Answers Your Letters
Asher writes: Hey, Kip! When I was watching the World Cup, I realized that not many people were taking shots from outside the penalty area. I think it would make the slow games that ended as 1–1 more interesting if goals scored from outside the penalty area were worth two points! Make sure to say “Hi” to Buzz for me! Dear Asher,
As an American cartoon columnist, I have to be careful about endorsing any rule changes to make soccer more exciting. I don’t want European cartoon heavyweights like Peppa Pig or Tintin coming after me for disrespecting the beautiful game.
Just between you, me, and the other people reading this sentence, however, I say go for it. One disappointing aspect of top-level soccer is the importance of penalty kicks, given how difficult they are for the goalkeeper to stop. Players, understandably, try to draw fouls inside the box so they can get an easy goal.
One nice aspect of the Asher System™ is players would sooner shoot from farther out than dribble into a potential tackle. Even if it doesn’t reduce the total number of penalties, I’d rather watch someone score on a perfectly curved free kick over a wall of defenders than fake out a helpless keeper.
Carter writes: I read that whenever James Naismith invented basketball, you couldn’t dribble the basketball at all! Another thing that surprised me was that even whenever someone made a shot, the game was paused to get a pole to push it out of the hoop. Why didn’t they go straight for the net? When was the net actually invented? And whose idea was it to do it? Carter—In defense of Dr. Naismith, he invented the sport one night in 1891 to be played the next day, because he needed a game for students to try indoors. He had to use what he had available to him. The synthetic materials that make up modern-day basketball hoops, like nylon and polyester, hadn’t even been invented yet! Unless James Naismith had been a serious fisherman, nets probably weren’t an option.
As far as the identity of the person who hung the first basketball net . . . it’s unclear. But the first metal hoops and backboards went up in 1906, ensuring that “ball retriever” didn’t become a permanent position.
Banks writes: Why does everyone hate baseball players who just try to have fun? Why do they hate bat flips? Let the players have fun.
For some reason, baseball has the most “unwritten rules” about what makes for an appropriate celebration. I’m not sure why. The excuse that the sport is old and has its traditions doesn’t really fly. Soccer is old, and its players really know how to celebrate a goal. I mean, there are more than 100 different celebrations you can do in FIFA depending on which combination of buttons you press!
Maybe it has to do with baseball’s quirk that the defense controls the ball. Pitchers can try to plunk a hitter who showed them up next at bat. But they shouldn’t. Let the bats fly—and just throw a better pitch next time.