Curry Wouldn’t Take Shaq’s Free Throws

Not even going to lie - I took this take from a friend who doesn’t watch much soccer. I’m not sure how I never thought of it before, but the second he said it I backed it. Now I’m backing it enough to warrant an entire post be written about it.

A designated penalty kick taker should not exist. No matter the team, each team has a dedicated taker. And whether it’s a foul on a player or a handball, it doesn’t matter who takes the kick. The goalkeeper - about 100 yards away from wherever the incident occurred, could be called upon to run down the entire field just to take the penalty. The penalty kick should be taken by the player who was fouled or last touched the ball, not whoever the manager assigns.

Piggybacking on the point above - every player on the field is capable of taking a penalty kick. Hell, I was an average (at best) soccer player in high school and I’d be confident against the world’s best keepers right now. I’m not saying I’d score, but the mere fact that I can aim a ball gives me a great chance no matter the keeper. In that case, why not switch the rule to whoever was fouled must take the kick? A last-second penalty kick is already exciting - what about a center back without a single career goal taking it? Even more fun.

If I missed one, someone please let me know. In other sports, you do not get to choose who takes the foul shot. Hockey sees klutzy defenders take penalty shots, while an NBA player was so notoriously bad for missing his free throws teams would intentionally foul him because they knew he would miss (Thankfully you can’t intentionally foul anyone in soccer). But in the sport where goals come so infrequently, the rules allow for an even easier chance to score with a designated taker. I get the point that the defending team shouldn’t have committed a foul in the first place - that doesn’t mean that the goal still shouldn’t be earned, and it should be taken by the player that earned the chance.

What I believe to be the hidden perk of this rule change: A level golden boot race. Designated penalty kick takers are always going to be towards the top of golden boot races. Heung Min-Son could run the entire length of the field, cross it to Dele who goes down in the box. Harry Kane has nothing to do with the play, but he is almost certainly going to take the penalty and score it. I don’t blame the decision - Harry Kane is the best penalty kick taker and the rules allow for him to take it. It is Spurs’ best interest for Kane to take the penalty. However, he doesn’t deserve a goal for the play. If it were as simple as bragging rights this might be okay, but there are significant financial implications that come with meeting goal thresholds (like commission you’d receive for excelling in any job).

Finally, I would only propose this rule for penalties. While the player fouled would be right at the center of action/free kick, there are many scenarios where this could go against the flow of the game. It is much more challenging and impressive to score a free kick. If you have any reasons why the rule should stay the same, please comment. I genuinely can’t think of a single reason other than not wanting to change the game, but I wouldn’t mind being proven wrong.

Author: Living in Southern California, Robert Sweeney has been a fan of soccer since he played as a young child. Since then, he’s become a diehard Tottenham and US National Team fan. Rob enjoys writing about the impact soccer has had on his life in hopes that it betters others as well. Twitter: @robsweeney11