A lovely little brouhaha is building in England about the half-a-million new commemorative fifty-pence pieces in circulation, with an explanation of offside on the backside of the queen's image. According to a story in this morning's Guardian, a well-known referee (called "expert" in the story) has complained that the coin (get the story here) will cause confusion because, in his words, the information on it is totally out of date.
It's fun to read, even though the writer (David Hills) botched the story, revealing that he knew neither the history of Law 11 nor the fifteen-year-old changes in how we emphasize involvement by players. Here in the United States, we had the law figured out and widely taught by the end of the eighties, and I always smile when I see examples of how far ahead we were of the originators of football. What then is the problem?
If you look back at my post about the late goal scored in the Sunderland/Manchester City match, I wrote that as soon as the pass was made that resulted in the goal, I said "He's offside!" To be absolutely correct and fastidious, I should have said "He's in an offside position, and if he plays the ball or interferes with an opponent, he should be penalized."
But the only person listening to me was a cat, and he can't handle a sentence with three clauses in it. The best he can do is "Food?" or "Want out?" or "Get off me, you needle-clawed little bugger; I'm not ready to get up yet!" That last sentence never gets beyond the word "me", because he knows that once he has pricked adrenaline into my system with his claws, I'll be getting out of bed and he's going to get breakfast. He's off the bed like a jackrabbit, so he never hears the final two clauses (or is it "clawses"?)
So despite the fuss, the coin is fine. It shows "offside position"; nothing more. I can't count the number of times I've had to explain offside position to wives, sisters and kids, using a convenient table complete with salt-shaker (attacker), matching pepper-mill (attacker), ketchup-bottle (defender), cup (fat goalkeeper) and a spilled pea for the ball. I got tired of carrying them around all the time, and I'll soon be ordering a 50p coin for myself.