Monday, June 8, 2015

Will Water Breaks Make Their Way to MLS Permanently?

Originally published August of 2011.

In Mexico's First Division and throughout all of its leagues, water breaks at the 25 and 70 minute marks are becoming more common.  These breaks are decided by the weather.  If officials see the weather as very hot, they are allowing for these breaks to occur, so players can hydrate and play on effectively.

These water breaks are causing quite a stir in staunch Soccer circles in Mexico because there are many who believe the breaks are being manipulated by television stations to interject commercials and what started off as the perceived right thing to do for the players, has turned into a marketing ploy by those in positions of power.

There is debate as to whether these water breaks (really, rest breaks-because FIFA allows players to go to end lines and get water during play or any stoppage) should be allowed in the first place, but evidently they've been happening for a number of years.  Those who support the game in the most legalistic of principles believe the breaks should not be allowed because they go against FIFA edict. Then, there is the group who doesn't mind the breaks, but not for TV purposes and then there are those who don't care either way.

Water breaks have occurred on the most rarest of occasions in MLS, too.  How hot is too hot and will this become a factor in American Soccer?

Video:  Water breaks are not shown (they are indicated on MLS website), but announcer describes heat from the first seconds and then again, 30-seconds later.

Ideally, as a fan, seeing the best possible skill is the point of watching in the first place, so American fans may not be turned off by these breaks in action.  Providing players a chance to rest a minute and reload with nutrients for the rest of the half could benefit the overall competitive flow of the game. Others, purists especially, will take a different perspective and say these breaks completely change everything and Soccer is not supposed to be played this way.

Certainly, if the breaks are being utilized to capitalize on commercial time, skeptics and purists will cry out and object.  Anything beyond the purpose of hydrating players will come off as placating sponsors and changing the game entirely.

One of the disputes heard from in the Soccer circles of Mexico regards the length of the break.  They are claiming the breaks are 5 minutes long.  The length of the break may be where there is room to compromise.  Possibly, all sides of the argument can reach agreement to accommodate the health of the players.  A solution could involve 2 minutes only.

Depending on who you believe and how fast global warming is making an effect on the atmosphere, this point of contention among water breaks may become a bigger hot-button topic in coming years for the MLS.

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